During a so-called SlutWalk in Detroit on Saturday, protesters mocked the Michigan legislature for silencing a female representative who said the word “vagina” while debating bills that would restrict reproductive rights.
“If you can’t say it, don’t legislate it,” hundreds of protesters shouted as they marched down the street.
On Wednesday, State Rep. Lisa Brown (D) took to the House floor to protest Michigan’s new, draconian anti-abortion law. “I have not asked you to adopt and adhere to my religious beliefs,” she said. “Why are you asking me to adopt yours? And finally, Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but no means no.”
The mostly male Republican caucus banned Brown and another Democratic legislator, Rep. Barb Byrum (D) from speaking on the House floor.
“What she said was offensive,” said state Rep. Mike Callton (R), “It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.”
The duration of the ban is unclear. When asked, Brown told the Detroit Free Press, “I have no idea. I have never even heard officially why I can’t speak.”
The main focus of the protest, however, was on sexually assault. SlutWalks began in Toronto in 2011 after a police officer informed women they needed to “stop dressing like sluts” to avoid being raped.
“We hope to just draw attention to these issues and the way victim-blaming happens in our culture,” one protester explained to the The Detroit News. “Sexual violence prevention is targeted at telling women what not to do and what not to wear instead of teaching men not to commit these assaults, so we’d really like to shift that.”
Watch video, uploaded to YouTube by the ACLU of Michigan, below:
With prior reporting by David Ferguson