After offending Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas by using the offensively medically accurate word "vagina" in an impassioned floor speech opposing Michigan's draconian new abortion law, State Representative Lisa Brown was banned indefinitely from speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives. Her colleague Barb Byrum, another passionate pro-choice elected official, was also served with an indefinite Shut The Fuck Up order from the the male-lead body. Apparently, during Michigan's War on Women, ladies aren't even allowed to serve in combat.
Byrum and Brown joined several of their female colleagues in voicing their vehement opposition to Michigan's anti-abortion bill, a steaming pile of misogyny that would criminalize all abortions after 20 weeks' gestation in all cases (so, if you had some terribly severe birth defects, too bad, sister — you carry that dead baby until that dead baby decides to be born) and contains no exceptions for the woman's health. It also straps abortion providing facilities with new burdens designed solely to make it a pain in the ass for them to operate.
As you might expect, debate's been heated. Hundreds of women have flooded the capitol to protest the bill's careless fast tracking, ham-fisted paternalism, and disingenuous concern mongering. Yesterday, before the bill was passed by the House, several female state representatives stood up to voice their opposition to the proposal. And two of them got a little too uppity for the male Speaker's taste. Want to get mad? Of course you do. Anger is the only way you know how to feel feelings anymore. Read on; it gets worse.
Rather than be a manly man and tell the women to their face that they had upset the Speaker, Bolger acted like a mincing, spineless ninny and relayed the women's speaking ban through their party's House leader. He gave no explanation as to why the women were banned, so both are left guessing (and fuming) today.
Byrum's silencing is a little more cut and dry than Brown's; she spoke out of turn (after trying, unsuccessfully, to be recognized to speak), which is technically a violation of House rules, which means that the Speaker was within his rights to reprimand her. But legislators speak out of turn fairly regularly, and only rarely are they told to sit down and shut up, officially.
I spoke with Rep. Lisa Brown, who was on the floor of the Michigan State House when we talked (because it's not like she was allowed to participate in any debates today, right!? Cry.). She's confused about what she did to offend the Man-Gods who want to run Michigan's uteruses, but she's got a couple of theories. During yesterday's speech, she mentioned her Jewish faith, which she thought might have irked Republicans. But more plausible is the explanation that it was her use of the medically accurate, anatomically correct word "vagina" during the debate ("I'm flattered that you're all so interested in my vagina, but no means no.") grossed her male colleagues out. "What word should I have said?" she asked. Apparently, "vagina" is another v-word that Must Not Be Named. Like Voldemort.
Brown's looking into her post-ban legal options, as her inability to speak on the floor of the House means that her constituents are effectively unable to have their Representative weigh in. Both women have been told (through their party leader because Michigan Republicans are trying to break the douchebaggery land speed record) that the ban is indefinite.
Women have been absent from the debate around a bill that seeks to govern their bodies from Day 1. During committee, no pro-choice women were allowed to speak. Planned Parenthood was barred from testifying. And now this — two pro-choice female legislators all-out banned from voicing an opinion on the state's role in their anatomy. This is un-fucking-believable, and inexcusable. To borrow a phrase from my grandmother, Michigan Republicans should be ashamed of themselves.
Let this be a lesson to you, women: shut up and let men do all the deciding about your bodies.