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The Vagina Monologues Ungagged

| June 24, 2012

It could be a vagina. With apologies to Magritte.

By Mary Jo Melone

Vagina. Vagina. Vagina.

Uterus. Uterus. Uterus.

There. I’ve said those dirty words, and boy, did it feel good. It’s curious what a little free speech will do. It clears the mind.

So here’s the truth about what happened in Michigan to State Rep. Lisa Brown, a Democrat, when she dared to use the word “vagina” during a debate last week about bills that would make an abortion ridiculously hard to get.

florida voices columnists flaglerlive

The Republicans don’t just want to control what women can do with—for delicate readers—their lady parts. The Republicans want to dictate what comes out of women’s mouths.

During the debate, Brown told her colleagues, “I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina. But no means no.”

Brown was then barred from speaking in the House. So was Rep. Barb Byrum, who introduced a bill banning vasectomies unless performed to save a man’s life.

Their words were deemed to violate the decorum of the House. They were accused of being immature – like fifth graders who tell fart jokes.

This isn’t the first time somebody has been lectured to for naming a thing what it is. Like all trends, this one started in Florida. Last year, Rep Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, said that since the GOP was so gung-ho about lifting regulations on business, it would be smart if his wife incorporated her uterus. Then the Republicans would let her do anything she wanted.


Randolph was chastised for violating the decorum of the House. Decorum–the same word that was used against Brown and Byrum. Is this another Republican talking point?

Censorship does not work, of course. It provokes more rebellion. So last February, in Oklahoma, state Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre borrowed a sign from a woman protesting proposed personhood bills. The sign read: “If I wanted the government in my womb, I’d f— a senator.”

God bless the woman who made that sign, and God bless McIntyre. You have to maintain a sense of humor when somebody is trying to take away your most basic right as a woman.

To borrow, sort of, from Mitt Romney, what’s good for the goose is apparently not good for the gander. Republicans use the word vagina all the time, but as part of an adjective, not a noun. They’re all for trans-vaginal ultrasounds, whether women want them or not.

Now I’ll borrow from a wise man, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart. If he were alive today, he’d see right through what the GOP is doing.

Censorship, he said, “is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.”

Not democratic, with a lower-case d. Authoritarian.

Like vagina, like uterus, the use of this word makes this battle over abortion plain. I’ll say it loud, say it proud. Authoritarian.

Mary Jo Melone, former columnist with the Tampa Bay Times, is a writer in Tampa.

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12 Responses for “The Vagina Monologues Ungagged”

  1. lefty loon says:

    “Like vagina, like uterus, the use of this word makes this battle over abortion plain. I’ll say it loud, say it proud. ”

    Perhaps human beings object to the lack of dignity towards the office which elected people hold. It’s Ok with me if you use the words honey, it defines who you are and how you degrade yourself and your office. Perhaps the children who preyed on that lady on the bus listened to those words at home or in school and this helped them hone their verbal slash and bash skills.

    • Nancy N. says:

      Would you feel it degraded a doctor to use those terms? Would you prefer that your (or your wife’s if it is more appropriate) doctor use pretty fluffy terms like “happy valley” instead of vagina when discussing serious medical issues? I bet not. That would be degrading to the doctor. So why can’t legislators use correct medical terms when discussing medical issues?

      Or maybe we should start having Knocker Cancer Awareness month because “breast” is a degrading word?

  2. Magnolia says:

    Abortion should be up to each, but please don’t ask me to pay for it.

  3. PCer says:

    I wish someone in Flagler County would put on a performance of the Vagina Monologues!! I have read it, seen it on video, but would love to see it live!!!

  4. Dorothea says:

    @ Magnolia,

    Many years ago a law passed that contained an amendment that takes away any fears that you have about paying for other people’s abortions. It’s called the Hyde Amendment and it was passed in 1976. Anyway, this article about the use of words defining a woman’s body parts, not about abortion.

  5. NortonSmitty says:

    I hate the word. It makes my Wee-Wee hurt!

  6. lefty loon says:

    “Would you feel it degraded a doctor to use those terms? Would you prefer that your (or your wife’s if it is more appropriate) doctor use pretty fluffy terms like “happy valley” instead of vagina when discussing serious medical issues? I bet not.”

    Context and timing are everything. You bet wrong. Why not just go into more graphic slang term common to most people? Why not go on prime time TV with this stuff? Dignity is what defines us as human beings. You are free to be a monkey in the monkey house and see how much you can throw against the wall while the crowd cheers you on. When the public forum becomes a cesspool then it becomes impossible to act with civility. In private, I don’t care what your doctor says to you or your husband about your happy valley. I don’t want to pay for it. I want you to work and pay for my ……..???? I want all of you to work and give me your money. That’s what this is all about.

    • Nancy N. says:

      What exactly is uncivil about using medical terms to discuss a medical procedure?

      “I don’t want to pay for it. I want you to work and pay for my ……..???? I want all of you to work and give me your money. That’s what this is all about.” – Who started talking about money? This is a discussion of free speech – or rather, un-American limitations being placed on it because some people don’t agree politically with what is being said – and nothing more.

      • lefty loon says:

        “Who started talking about money? This is a discussion of free speech – or rather, un-American limitations being placed on it because some people don’t agree politically with what is being said – and nothing more. ”

        Lets have free speech starting right here

  7. question says:

    I say ‘keep it up’…body part issues. 2 reasons:

    Hear the door creaking open that there are both men & women in State houses all across America. You go girl…State Rep. Lisa Brown! Kinda like the theory…as soon as men can get pregnant and have children, then they can spout off an opinion on what women can and can not do with their own body. Till then butt out.

    Reason 2. Keep it up counting down the clock til Nov 6 on ‘social’ issues…they turn off independents [if there really are such people]. President Obama thanks you.

    p.s. dear god, slipping into Norton-dom world of humor. “No don’t laugh. Stop it. But it’s funny”

  8. Will says:

    @ PCer

    Ditto…

    A local live performance of the Vagina Monologues is a great idea.

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