A few weeks ago Rep Lisa Brown, a Democrat in the Michigan State house, gave a speech defending abortion under the guise of religious freedom. An interesting approach but how she put it caused a bit of a stir.
NPR reported the comment:
“I have not asked you to adopt and adhere to my religious beliefs. Why are you asking me to adopt yours?” she said. But what came next is what got her in trouble: “And finally, Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no.’”
Zing. Obviously the Republican’s felt the need to retaliate in a petty manor so they prevented her from speaking about a completely unrelated bill.
The Detroit News reported on their rational.
“‘What she said was offensive,” said Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville. ‘It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.’
“Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas, R-Midland, determined Brown’s comments violated the decorum of the House, said Ari Adler, spokesman for the Republican majority.”
The fact that some old white dudes got their panties in a knot when a woman used “Mr. Speaker” and “vagina” in the same sentence is not terribly shocking. It’s clear that sexism is at the heart of this issue but you don’t usually get people to admit their bias so openly. Lets return to what Mike Callton said as evidence.
“It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.” [emphasis added]
The implication being that if he was getting cozy with his good ole buddies then he would be just fine saying vagina though lets be honest, he would probably use something less clinical. The fact that he openly admits to having double standards regarding what he would say in front of women is sexism at it’s most basic level. If you think I’m off my rocker lets try looking at this through a different lens. A good measure of whether or not a joke is racist is how willing you would be to tell it in “mixed company”. Would you tell that great joke you heard about Mexicans in front to your Hispanic maid? No, you wouldn’t. She is from Guatemala by the way, not that you care.
Lets stop considering the phrase “mixed company” to be quaint and start calling a spade a spade. It’s a sexist phrase that needs to die.
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