Saturday, May 21, 2022

Crowd chants "Vagina" at Capitol rally

June 18, 2012
Thousands of supporters come to the Lansing State Capitol Building to watch a performance of "The Vagina Monologues" Monday, June 18, 2012.  State representative Lisa Brown was silenced after using the word “vagina” during a House of Representatives session last week. Adam Toolin/The State News
Thousands of supporters come to the Lansing State Capitol Building to watch a performance of "The Vagina Monologues" Monday, June 18, 2012. State representative Lisa Brown was silenced after using the word “vagina” during a House of Representatives session last week. Adam Toolin/The State News —
Photo by Adam Toolin | and Adam Toolin The State News

Most days, thousands of people standing on the Capitol lawn shouting “vagina” would be an unusual encounter.

But on Monday night, not only was it accepted, it was encouraged during a special performance of “The Vagina Monologues,” Eve Ensler’s 1996 episodic play celebrating the female anatomy.

Thousands of people gathered for the performance in the aftermath of the House of Representatives’ passage of an anti-abortion bill and subsequent silencing of two female legislators who spoke out against it.

State Rep. Lisa Brown, D-West Bloomfield, who used the word “vagina” when speaking against the bill last week, said she hardly could believe the support she had received since she was silenced.

“I’m so overwhelmed,” Brown said. “Who would have thought one little floor speech would end in this?”

Brown said she learned she would be silenced from speaking about a separate bill after the abortion bill passed on Wednesday, and she was upset that she had been “deprived” of her rights to speak.

The legislators received the loudest applause from the audience during the performance, along with the play’s creator Ensler, who flew in from Berkeley, Calif., on her day off for the performance and ended the play asking the crowd to chant “vagina.”

Ensler said Brown and Byrum deserve speaking rights on the House floor again and an apology for silencing them at all.

“No one can put the genie back in the bottle,” Ensler said about the public response to Brown’s and Byrum’s statements.

Byrum, who was silenced for interrupting the speaker when asking to speak, said she was honored and humbled by the crowd that came to the performance.

“It is so humbling, for a woman like me, to make me speechless, which is very hard to do,” Byrum said.

Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, said Ensler contacted her after hearing about the legislation and asked to arrange something in Lansing. Within the few days afterwards, Warren said she contacted many more female legislators to perform on the Capitol steps.

Warren said when Brown first joined the House, she was assigned to Warren as a mentee.

“I have never been prouder of my mentee, state Rep. Lisa Brown, than the day she stood up on the house floor and would not be silenced,” Warren said.

Brown said she is outraged that women across the state were not heard during the committee process before the bill was passed and on the House floor.

“We shouldn’t be legislating vaginas if you can’t say vagina.”

Support student media! Please consider donating to The State News and help fund the future of journalism.

Discussion

Share and discuss “Crowd chants "Vagina" at Capitol rally” on social media.