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Posted on Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 3:28 p.m.

Rebekah Warren says tonight's 'Vaginas Take Back The Capitol' rally is about freedom of speech

By Ryan J. Stanton

State Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, says tonight's "Vaginas Take Back the Capitol" rally in Lansing is about freedom of speech.

"Nowhere is freedom of speech more essential than in our legislative bodies," Warren said in a statement. "What we are facing is not simply a question of pro-choice or anti-choice policy — this is about whether women will be allowed to freely participate in the debate. It is an issue that should disturb and engage Michiganders from every corner of our state."

Michigan senators and representatives are expected to be joined by playwright and V-Day founder Eve Ensler, as well as local activists and actors, for a special performance of Ensler’s award-winning play "The Vagina Monologues" on the Michigan Capitol steps.


Rebekah Warren

The performance, which takes place between 6and 8 p.m., is part of an organized response to the recent banning of state Rep. Lisa Brown, D-West Bloomfield, from publicly speaking in the House after she uttered the word "vagina" during a speech.

Brown was banned by Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas and House Republicans after she told supporters of a controversial piece of anti-abortion legislation, "I'm flattered that you're all so interested in my vagina, but no means no."

GOP leaders have said Brown was gaveled out of order not for using the word "vagina," but for saying "no means no," because it suggested Brown was comparing the abortion legislation to rape.

In addition to Warren, Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D- East Lansing, and several other lawmakers, including Brown, are expected to perform along with Ensler and local actors tonight. In a news release announcing the event, Ensler spoke of the power of simply saying the word "vagina."

"We’ve seen how it's freed women from their shame and empowered them to break the silence and become leaders in their communities," she said. "By saying the word 'vagina' and making it OK to say the word 'vagina,' we take away the humiliation, and fear, and myths that often surround it. Censoring a woman for saying a word that is a body part that 51 percent of their constituents have is a repression that we have not and should not ever witness in this country." is reporting that what started as a debate over anti-abortion legislation has turned into a platform for women's rights and a boost for Democratic fundraising in this election year.

Whitmer, the highest-ranking woman in Michigan government, said she looks forward to joining other powerful women in sending a message that they're proud of themselves, proud of their bodies and proud of the message they have to offer.

"I want my two daughters to know that their mom and countless other women stood up for them as they grow into the next generation of strong women," she said.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 5:35 a.m.


Jay Thomas

Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 10:30 p.m.

Big to do about nothing. Deliberately arranged to coincide with the democrat election year theme that there is a "war on women." Funny how it turns out the Obama admin and Nancy Pelosi's house democrats were found to be paying women less than men after making a campaign issue out of it....

martini man

Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

In my humble opinion, I don't believe this rally or whatever they want to call it , has much to do with freedom of speech. What these feminists want, is the right to kill their babies by abortion. Under current law, they have the right to kill their babies by abortion. And they do it by the thousands each year. They do NOT want to lose that legal right . They can hum and haw and spin and ridicule but ABORTION is the issue. It's the Holy Grail of feminism. Now I'll be attacked and called names and berated by liberals, for what I have posted ..BUT what I said is true and no amount of diverting the issue or name calling can change that fact.


Wed, Jun 20, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

Everyone should have the right to CHOOSE and no, women should not lose that choice. What may be immoral and wrong to you, may not be for others.


Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 12:37 p.m.

Not sure how to interpret the rally's title...

David Paris

Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 3:19 a.m.

Thank you Rebekah Warren and Eve Ensler for standing strong with our Female Representatives in Lansing!

Linda Peck

Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 2:38 a.m.

This is the funniest stuff I have read on in a long time. I am still laughing, out loud.


Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 2:35 a.m.

This whole discussion has been very refreshing. I think all women should be able to talk about their vaginas without fear of being silenced. I just wish I was single and young enough to take advantage of this new wave in Michigan politics.

The Black Stallion3

Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 2:55 a.m.

Obviously born by c-section

The Black Stallion3

Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 1:14 a.m.

These ladies talking about their vaginas are really making Michigan proud......The whole country is laughing at you.

Unusual Suspect

Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

BS3 is right. Of course, you won't hear anybody from Ann Arbor agree with him, they all think the rest of the country it like Ann Arbor. But outside the borders of Moscow On The Huron, the real world is having a good chuckle at these liberal stooges.


Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

At this point...I think most people are laughing at the republicans for this nonsense they are trying to cram down our throats...


Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 12:52 a.m.

What an embarrassing farce.


Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

Yes...the republican party has been an embarrassing farce ever since coming to power in worries, the tide will be changing soon

The Black Stallion3

Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 1:37 a.m.

But not for ones with no morals......right !


Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 1:21 a.m.

It's only embarrassing for people who think vagina is a dirty word.


Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 12:50 a.m.

As a mangina, I am all for vagina rallies. The more vagina the better!


Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 12:46 a.m.

And then there was Eldridge Cleaver and his, "For Men Only" Penis Pants: "Cleaver's pants are constructed with two types of eye-catching pouches: one is shaped like a football player's jockey cup, and the other features a tubular extension for the man's penis, and an adjoining smaller pouch for his testicles" "They're bad, they're mad, they're up front (but never out of sight)... and, of course, they're for men only… REAL men… the three-fisted variety. 'There's no mistaking they are men's pants,' says M. Cleaver (seen here modeling a high-waisted two-tone pair of 'Cleavers' with side zipper and matching 'appurtenance.'  'The pants that men wear now will be seen as girls' pants after my models are sold.  And don't forget…heavy on the starch!" ******** Now that's what I'm talkin' about! Puts the current vaginaphobia a bit more into perspective, doesn't it?

The Black Stallion3

Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 1:58 a.m.



Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 12:42 a.m.

Some interesting quotes by a couple of the above commenters: "Imagine if a bunch of men... kept using the word "Penis" to get attention..." "Men should get encouraged and talk about their penises in public and around women" Imagine! Boy, that's sure a stretch! Next thing you know, guys will be walking around grabbing their crotches, and asking their buddies, "How's it hanging?" or something. Pretty silly to think that grown men would ever act like that, right?

Jaime Magiera

Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 2:26 a.m.

The analogy would only work if a man said something like... "I realize you are all interested in my penis, but...", to his male and female co-workers, which would cause all kinds of commotion. That's the irony here. So many comments are incorrectly focusing on the word "vagina" and not the other words on either side, and the phrase's implication.


Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 12:05 a.m.

Who is Jim Stamas to tell legislators of either gender they are not allowed to speak? Are you kidding me? Aren't we all adults? So, someone says the word vagina, big deal, get over it. It is the proper name for that body part. I wonder what would have happened if a male legislator would have said the word penis. Most likely, nothing.

David Paris

Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 3:15 a.m.

Gloria, Your point is really the only point that matters in this argument, and all citizens in this state should be incensed by Jim Stamas actions, regardless of party, thank you.

Jaime Magiera

Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 2:22 a.m.

The rules tell him so. See my post above.


Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 11:22 p.m.

I'm so proud of my representative and the way she is fighting on the frontlines in the war against women.............they are helping to empower women to not be so prudish and modest and to be able to openly discuss their vaginas in public. Men should get encouraged and talk about their penises in public and around women, we can take away the humiliation, fear, and myths that often surround our anatomical parts. This is a cause that is important to all women obviously since they are so repressed in this country, I'm surprised there aren't more women writing on this subject..........


Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 11:52 p.m.

Didnt know they were at war? Kinda taking this whole thing out of context. Thats the problem instead of being equal, they want to be better than men. Thats fine and all, but ultimatly they are mothers and need to teach their offspring, morals, the right place and time for certain words and phrases. Does your mom openly talk about her vagina? Doubt it and if she doesnt, well then shes a classy lady.

The Black Stallion3

Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 11:28 p.m.

Your right............They are so oppressed.........reminds me of the Muslim women and how much freedom they have in their native country's


Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 11:17 p.m.

My continued thanks and gratitude to Gretchen Whitmer and Rebekah Warren for their continued support of women. Keep up the good work!


Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 10:22 p.m.

Really!!!! How do you expect to be taken seriously? Thanks for making it worse for women! Gain some class!

Ron Granger

Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 10:15 p.m.

Several of these comments are a great reminder that some people would not allow women to vote, if they could get away with it.


Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 1:09 a.m.


The Black Stallion3

Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 9:42 p.m.

Looks like I am not allowed to say Vagina even if it is in Ryans headline.....Why?

Ron Granger

Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 9:39 p.m.

What about the other representative who was prohibited from speaking because she dared to introduce an amendment to require counseling to protect men seeking Vasectomies? We need to make certain they are not being coerced. She said vasectomies.

Linda Peck

Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 8:56 p.m.

I agree with mohomed above here. Also, if Ms Brown had not been so obnoxious in her use of the word vagina, this would not be happening. It was inflammatory and meant to get a "rise" out of people and it worked. I found it offensive and I am a woman.


Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 1:58 a.m.

Loopy, Everyone knows that women have two nostrils.


Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 10:27 p.m.

Loopy, I agree with Linda. It is not the word itself, it is the way it is used.


Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 8:45 p.m.

Here come the vaginaphobes!

G. Orwell

Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

I agree 100% that freedom of speech should NEVER be compromised. Therefore, Ms. Warren, please ask the Obama admin. to stop censoring free speech. We have "free speech zones (what a joke)," and anyone protesting against our government can now be arrested (H.R. 347). Our overlords in DC want to stifle descent. We are rapidly headed toward tyranny. Next they will come for our Second Amendment. Quote, "Under H.R. 347, a federal law will formally be applied to such instances, but will also allow the government to bring charges to protesters, demonstrators and activists at political events and other outings across America."


Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

In order to be fair and truthful Mr. Orwell, you should include the full intent of the bill, which seeks to limit unlawful behavior. It has nothing to do with protesting or descent. You can protest and descent all you want, but not in anyplace you want, particularly if you are so disruptive and disorderly regular business cannot be conducted. Did you even read HR 347.


Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 8:40 p.m.

freedom of speech is dead,more people seem offended just at the delivery of said speech and expect all to be polite even when being walked on.


Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.

You need to study up on freedom of speech U812. One simply cannot say whatever they want whenever they want. There have been many rulings on this. Rep Brown's outburst was juvenile and out of place in a session of the legislature.

Jaime Magiera

Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

By the rules? Yes, you have to be respectful in session. To be clear, there *is not* free speech in the (any) session of political debate in the U.S.. Every session has rules and regulations about what can be said/implied/etc. You're welcome to say whatever you want outside of session. Also, pretty much every job (make no mistake, they are working at a job) has rules for conduct.

Jaime Magiera

Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

I'm totally against the legislation. However, I am incredibly disappointed at the lack of foresight folks are showing on the topic. Lets try a social experiment today. In the course of conversation with co-workers, insert language that implies they are trying to sexually assault you. Please let me know how the rest of your day goes. The fact of the matter is that a level of decorum needs to be maintained in any political arena to prevent it from turning into Jerry Springer. There are rules about decorum for the Michigan House of Representatives. Rule 6. (1) Rule 28 Rule 34 (1f) Rule 74 (1a, 3) Ironically, the people focusing on the word "vagina" are the same ones who would be offended if sexual assault or sexuality were implied by any other reps during session. It's also ironic that in a state where the House and Senate are overwhelmingly Republican/Conservative, people believe such comments are going to help prevent the legislation from being passed. However, that will only been done by respectfully interacting with philosophical opponents. (as an aside, the comment was anatomically incorrect, and a mis-representation of what the majority of the Right To Life folks are working towards. I don't think just because they have a different perspective, that they should be misrepresented).

Top Cat

Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 8:21 p.m.

It certainly is NOT about dignity.


Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 8:43 p.m.

You're describing politics in general, right?


Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 7:52 p.m.

Well, if you're looking for a liberal female Lansing sure would be the place to be tonight. I'm just afraid there won't be enough cameras and microphones for all of the publicity hogs that are going to show up.

Dog Guy

Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 11:38 p.m.

I have avoided female liberals ever since I learned what they make for dinner . . . which is reservations. That and their many cats of course.

Unusual Suspect

Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 9:25 p.m.

I haven't gone looking for a liberal female since before I grew up.


Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 7:50 p.m.

Imagine if a bunch of men held a "Penis" rally to support their rights and kept using the word "Penis" to get attention getting the media to go crazy for their "right" to say the word. This post will probably get removed for using the word "Penis" knowing how the double standard AAnews runs things.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 10:20 p.m.

Imagine if you were banned from speaking in a house of governance you belong to for using the word penis...


Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 9:41 p.m.

Who has to imagine? For men, every day is penis day.


Mon, Jun 18, 2012 : 8:34 p.m.

Well if the Republikans decide to make a few laws about vasectomies, you might have your chance. I can hear the lilting strains of "Every Sperm is Sacred" by Monty Python.