Michigan House Democrats made some impassioned speeches on behalf of women’s rights recently when restrictive abortion legislation was being debated. One bill passed and will be taken up by the Senate in September and one was tabled. But during those impassioned speeches, two things happened that put Michigan and the general fight for women’s health care rights into sharp focus. One was when Rep. Barb Byrum, who had had added an amendment to the bill that would require proof of a medical emergency or that a man’s life was in dangers before a vasectomy could be performed, was not allowed to speak on her own amendment.
But the show stopper was Rep. Lisa Brown who told the house “I’m flattered you’re all so interested in my vagina, but no means no.” She was also told she wouldn’t be recognized to speak before the House because she (supposedly) violated the decorum of the House.
“Freedom of speech has it’s limits – at least in the State House of Representatives,” wrote Kathleen Grey in the Detroit Free Press.
It was only for a day but it has echoed ever since, firing up women’s rights supporters and hitting a fantastic peak when a dozen female legislators took part in a reading of the acclaimed play The Vagina Monologues on the Capitol steps on June 18. The show has become an iconic piece, an episodic play by Eve Ensler (who attended the Michigan performance) in which an all-female cast performs monologues, all of which are related to the vagina. (Ensler interviewed 200 women to write the show, asking questions like “What would your vagina say if it could talk?”) The show spawned the global activist movement V-Day which works to end violence against women and girls.
When you look at the video (on the link) of the Capitol performance it’s pretty freeing and really makes you think about people being bold enough to legislate about women’s health when they can’t even bear to hear anatomical terms associated with it.
As for Brown and Byrum both are leaving the House to run for county clerk in their home bases and both have reported huge donations coming in since that fateful day.
So in this case we see that money talks, even if you try to stop women from doing so.