Republican Rep Peter Hansen (New Hampshire) recently sent out an email to his fellow congress people (persons ???) defending a “stand your ground” policy versus a “retreat and get the hell outta there” policy and referred to women as “vagina’s” (his spelling).
There were two critical ingredients missing in the illustrious stories purporting to demonstrate the practical side of retreat. Not that retreat may not be possible mind you. What could possibly be missing from those factual tales of successful retreat in VT, Germany, and the bowels of Amsterdam? Why children and vagina’s [sic] of course. While the tales relate the actions of a solitary male the outcome cannot relate to similar situations where children and women and mothers are the potential victims. The presence of one or both ingredients demands that a potential totally different outcome might have prevailed and that is the factor which I believe was dismissed in the HB 135 debate and vote
Um, excuse me?
I don’t care how informal your email to coworkers is, reducing half of the population to a body part … is just … just …….. aaaagggggghh. (picture me apoplectic, shaking my head and clenching my hands around an invisible neck)
This is so telling. So telling. Even though they deny it, anybody with a brain can see there is absolutely a War on Women going on. They’re obsessed with the lady bits. We’re just “vaginas”, and they wanna get all up in that. To legislate it. Control it. Because we don’t have brains, we can’t think for ourselves. We’re not people.
So when the backlash came what was his response? He went on the offensive:
“Having a fairly well educated mind I do not need self appointed wardens to A: try to put words in my mouth for political gain and B: Turn a well founded strategy in communication into an insulting accusation, and finally if you find the noun vagina insulting or in some way offensive then perhaps a better exercise might be for you to re-examine your psyche.”
And then he came up with the standard non-apology apology:
“It was not, and is not, my intention to demean women at any time. It is apparent that the intent of my remarks has been misinterpreted, the true goal of the message lost and for that I apologize to those who took offense.“
Riiiiiiiiiiight. He’s not the problem, it’s everybody else. Your bad, not mine. Basically – why ya’ll get so butt hurt?
Um, maybe because it’s cheap, it’s demeaning and reduces a woman to less than a whole person with rights and feelings and valid viewpoints and ideas and sensibilities and intelligence.
Now some of you might be saying the uproar against him using “vagina’s” (let’s not even go into the apostrophe okay?) is hypocritical considering that when Michigan lawmaker, Lisa Brown used the word “vagina” on the floor of the House, people disagreed with her being censured for it.
Apples and oranges, people. Peaches and star fruit. Or penises and vagina’s, maybe? No, but seriously. Rep Brown was debating on an abortion bill. A reproductive rights issue. Now, it’s been a while since I’ve taken sex ed but I’m pretty sure a vagina comes into play, somehow, in reproduction. I mean, I could be wrong, you know, with all this new-fangled technology and such. Test tubes and 3D laser printers and all. But I think some people still manage to do it old-school.
So – Rep. Brown’s use of the word? Totally appropriate. Rep Hansen’s use? Totally insulting. It’s all about context. And intent.
Oh and one more thing. Maybe we should just start calling Rep. Hansen Senior Rectum.
No? Just a thought.
“Why does it matter? Because when girls and women are culturally dehumanized we lose our personhood and our rights are not assured, if we even had them in the first place.”
Soraya Chemaly, on why women’s stories must be told, honestly and repeatedly