The Best Protest Signs from Michigan’s “Vaginagate” Scandal

On Monday night, more than 2,500 people joined eleven state legislators and playwright Eve Ensler for a special performance of Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues on the steps of the Michigan state capitol. It was a fitting culmination to “Vaginagate“—the scandal that’s brought national attention to an anti-abortion bill passed by the Michigan House last week.

Here’s the backstory: Last Wednesday, during debate on a slew of anti-abortion provisions, Democratic state Rep. Lisa Brown was reprimanded by the Republican Majority Floor Leader for violating the decorum of the House and banned from speaking the next day. Her offense? After saying that the legislation would go against her Jewish religious beliefs and that abortions should be allowed when required to save the life of the mother, Brown ended with, “Finally, Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no.'”

Another Democrat, Rep. Barb Byrum, was also silenced when she proposed an amendment that would apply the same regulations required by the bill to vasectomies as well—which, as MoJo has reported, is a popular new tactic by cheeky state lawmakers who support abortion rights.

House GOP spokesman Ari Adler eventually claimed that the kerfuffle “has nothing to do with the word vagina.” Instead, Brown was deemed out of order for implicitly comparing the legislation to rape by saying “no means no.”

But by that point, there was no walking back the social-media friendly scandal. Abortion-rights supporters were all too happy to capitalize on the symbolism of banning a woman lawmaker for talking about female anatomy while speaking against a bill related to reproductive health. (“Can’t say it? Don’t legislate it,” advised the ACLU of Michigan.) And nothing invites ridicule like male lawmakers who seem squeamish about discussing lady parts. (Just ask Virginia state Rep. Dave Albo.) Plus, the word “vagina” makes for some popular Twitter hashtags.

And you’ve gotta love the signs. Here’s a short video, courtesy of the Michigan House Democrats, featuring some of the best ones from Monday night’s event—which was, rather aptly, dubbed political theater by the bill’s supporters.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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