Rep. Lisa Brown has found a new venue.
Brown, a Democrat who was barred from the floor of Michigan's Republican-controlled House of Representatives after saying the word vagina during an impassioned abortion debate, is planning to perform The Vagina Monologues on the steps of the state Capitol in Lansing.
She will be joined by Eve Ensler, the play's author, and at least eight other female legislators. Brown has charged that she was banned for a speech she gave criticizing proposed legislation that would impose tighter restrictions on abortion in Michigan. She finished the address by saying, Mr. Speaker, I'm flattered that you are all so interested in my vagina, but no means no.
The comment drew applause but also sparked a backlash from Republican lawmakers. Brown suggested a number of reasons for her being silenced, including her use of the word vagina and the fact that she is Jewish.
Maybe my message of religious freedom didn't sit well with the opposition, Brown said afterward. Or maybe they are banning me because I dare say 'vagina,' the correct medical name of a part of a woman's anatomy that these lawmakers are trying to regulate. Isn't that something?
First performed in 1996, The Vagina Monologues consists of a series of speeches that touch on topics including menstruation, rape and female sexuality. The play has become a symbol of female empowerment and led to the creation of V-Day, a global movement that combines performances of the play with teach-ins and workshops aimed at combating sexual violence.
Carla Milarch, an associate artistic director for an Ann Arbor theater who is organizing Monday's performance, told the Detroit Free Press that the event has a similar goal of raising awareness.
This word being deemed inappropriate to be said on the House floor is creating a stir, Milarch said. We want to get people thinking about it.
The Free Press reports that the following lawmakers are also planning on participating: Rep. Barb Byrum, D-Onondaga, who also was banned from making further speeches; Rep. Stacy Erwin Oakes, D-Saginaw; Rep. Dian Slavens, D-Canton; Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit; Rep. Vicki Barnett, D-Farmington Hills; Rep. Joan Bauer, D-Lansing, and Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing.