Vagina Monologues at the Michigan State Capitol

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Thousands of people filled the lawn of the Michigan state capitol in Lansing this past Monday to watch female members of the state's house and senate perform The Vagina Monologues. The performance/rally was a response to a ruckus in Michigan House of Representatives days earlier. Representative Lisa Brown was banned from speaking on any bill after her speech about a bill putting certain limits on abortion. It concluded, "Mr. Speaker, I'm flattered that you're all so interested in my vagina, but 'no' means 'no.'" The Speaker condemned her lack of decorum, video of the speech went viral, and female politicians quickly organized the Vagina Monologues protest.

Eve Ensler, the women's-rights activist who wrote and first performed the play in 1998, flew to Michigan for the occasion. While the Monologues have been enormously popular at colleges and in theaters, Ensler says that elected officials are also coming to embrace the play. "Nine members of the European parliament performed The Vagina Monologues inside the parliament,” she tells Kurt Andersen. “We're really seeing this new trend of women in political office doing the show as a way of raising the issue of violence against women, but also as a way of empowerment for themselves and their constituents." Ensler is optimistic that the incident in Michigan is an opportunity to raise awareness, though she says her best hope for a blockbuster success is that it will one day be irrelevant. "I've been fighting for the liberation of women since I can remember," Ensler says, "and I don't want to be doing this when I'm 85."

→ What was so offensive about Representative Brown’s remarks? Was it that she used the word “vagina” or the way she framed the issue? Tell us in a comment below.


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