This is why we can't have nice things:
It wasn't about body parts. It wasn't about dissent. It wasn't about anyone's religious beliefs. It was that last comment that took it a step too far, and that's what crossed the line about ... The 'no means no' comment. That went a step too far. As I said to someone up north here, it's like giving a kid a time out for a day, you know. Hey, time out.That is Republican state Rep. Wayne Schmidt of Michigan, explaining why his Democratic colleague, state Rep. Lisa Brown, was banned from speaking on the House floor after uttering the most offensive word in the English language: vagina.
Michigan Republicans have been desperately trying to come up with a good excuse for banning Rep. Brown that doesn't make them look like a bunch of pearl-clutching prudes who faint at the mention of a body part, even though it was made clear from the beginning that it was the word "vagina" that so incensed Republicans. As Rep. Mike Callton explained, "What she said was offensive ... It was so offensive, I don't even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company." That excuse didn't win Republicans any sympathy, however, so they pivoted to a new one. The spokesman for House Majority Leader Jase Bolger insisted that "it was not the words she used, but the way she used them that resulted in her being gaveled down." Shockingly, no one bought the "it's how she said it" explanation either.
So now we have yet another bogus excuse for the banning: it wasn't about saying vagina, or how she said vagina, at all. It was because Rep. Brown said "no means no." As in, women are saying "no" to draconian restrictions on their health care. It's women saying "no" that is now the problem, that is so very offensive that true gentlemen would never speak such words in the presence of ladies. For this offense, for saying "no," Rep. Brown deserves a "time out," as if she's been a naughty child—instead of a grown woman who has been elected to office and has the right and obligation to represent her constituents.
Is this really the argument Michigan Republicans want to make? A woman who says "no" to men is offensive. A woman who says "no" must be silenced "to ensure the proper level of maturity and civility are maintained on the House floor." A woman who says "no" needs a time out.
They should have stuck with the "vagina is offensive" argument.
Maybe Rep. Schmidt made the fatal error of telling the truth. This isn't about the scary "v" word. It's about women daring to say "no" to men, to their authority over women's bodies, to their insistence that only men have the right to make decisions for women. It's about telling those handful of lady legislators who've managed to work their way into the halls of power that okay, fine, they can hold office, but they'd better hold their tongues too. Speak up, ladies, and the men in charge will silence you, ban you, and give you a time out to teach you, and all women, that no matter how much progress women have made, they don't have the right to say "no."