Ms. Milarch (and Her Vagina) Go to Lansing
So, if you’ve come in late, here’s what happened in Act One: The Michigan State legislature put so many restrictions on women’s healthcare choices, including requiring physicians who perform abortions to carry $1 million in liability insurance, that some clinics say they may have to close, leaving women, especially poor women, with few options. The New York Times called the measure sweeping and urged Michigan’s governor not to sign it.
When a state representative, Lisa Brown, spoke out against this, she was banned from speaking on the floor for two days. She noted that she didn’t expect anyone to follow the tenants of her religion and asked that nobody impose their religion on her. “Finally, Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no.’”
She’s been banned for using the phrase “my vagina,” not her protest against the bill apparently, but most wonder exactly how a word in science texts became so disturbing. Certainly, the word and the issue drew more attention than either has for a time. Vaginas noticed the ban. Even penises noticed. “Vagina” may have been the most tweeted word in America in the last few days.
While most of us kvetched, Carla Milarch, associate artistic director of the Performance Network Theatre in Ann Arbor, mobilized Michigan artists and citizens to protest. Her work began with a series of Facebook posts on Friday morning. Milarch asked if her friends–she has 1,237 of them, and many are performers–would join her on the steps of the capital to read from Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. Most reposted her invitation and the number of participants grew throughout the day. By Friday evening, Ensler had gotten a plane ticket to Michigan to join the reading, too. A gaggle of state senators and representatives, all of them Democrats, have signed on to join the thespians.
The participating actors included: Q’Amara Black, Jan Blixt, Barb Christine, Ruth Crawford, Mary Jo Cuppone, Madison Deadman, Courtney J Dempsey-Burkett, Naz Edwards, Cecillia Fierro, Lindsey Ford, Julia Glander, Jennifer Graham, Lynn Lammers, Carla Milarch, Elitza Nicolauo, Sally Pesetsky, Suzi Regan, Jasmine Rivera, Eva Rosenwald, Chelsea Sadler, Dana Sutton, Emily Sutton-Smith.
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Top two photos by Mary Jo Cuppone.
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