Vagina? Vagina. Vagina vagina vagina.

I’m flattered that you’re all so concerned about my vagina.”

If I can’t say the word vagina, why are we legislating vaginas?

“At least nine female legislators, Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler and actresses from across the state will be assembling to perform Ensler’s play on Monday, June 18, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on the steps of the state capitol in Lansing.”

Vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina,vagina, VAGINA!!!!!!!

“This is my vagina. There are many like it, but this one is mine.”

“Abortion and contraception restrictions have a lot in common with rape apologies, especiallly when it comes back to the notion that a woman who voluntarily had sex with a man thereby loses her right forever to say no to what others would do with her body.”

“Every time this happens, more women get the message: speak up, and we will come for you.”

“After stumbling across yet another piece of alarmingly dangerous advice for abused women of faith titled, Surviving Emotional Abuse Six Steps, by Christian author, Darcy Ingraham, I am wishing I had more middle fingers with which to express my extreme irritation.”

“‘Different but complementary’: I cannot shake how similar that phrase is to, ‘separate but equal.’

This lie helps to keep women in the Christian Patriarchy movement, persuading them that they are not being treated as inferior, or being degraded or used.”

“Members of the Vatican hierarchy are using the word ‘feminist’ and even ‘radical feminist’ the way third-graders use the word ‘cooties.’

The problem is not radical feminism, it’s radical patriarchy.”

“Despite claims by Catholic bishops that the current administration is engaged in a war against them, federal funding to Catholic organizations has increased during the past two years. Groups getting more money include Catholic Relief services ($12.45 million in 2008 to $57.89 million in 2011), Catholic Charities USA ($440 million in 2008 to $554 million in 2010), the Catholic Medical Mission Board ($500,000 in 2008 to $7 million in 2011), and others.”

“An email today from FRC Action (a group affiliated with the right-wing Family Research Council) repeats the falsehood that emergency contraception drugs cause abortions.”

“I have not asked you to adopt and adhere to my religious beliefs. Why are you asking me to adopt yours?

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  • Will Peitzman

    As long as we’re talking about vaginas…. 

  • Amaryllis

     “Members of the Vatican hierarchy are using the word ‘feminist’ and even ‘radical feminist’ the way third-graders use the word ‘cooties.’”

    This is the truth.

    I can’t say it’s the gospel truth because, as Mae West might have put it, Gospel has nothing to do with it.

  • cyllan

    Oh good.  You saved me from having to go hunt for that. As soon as I saw the first three links, the song started playing in my head. :-)

  • Michael Pullmann

    Note to anyone who’s freaked out by vaginas: Where do you think you came from?

  • Vermic

    Michigan legislators have no idea of the whirlwind they’re about to reap. The Internet is the most potent force for saying “vagina” ever conceived by humankind.

  • JayemGriffin

    It’s true. We can quibble for days about the “real-life” effectiveness of Internet activism, but if you need a whole lot of people to repeat words for genitalia over and over again, you’ve come to the right place!

  • Lori


    Michigan legislators have no idea of the whirlwind they’re about to reap.  

    Oh, I think they have a pretty good idea by now. If nothing else, their Facebook pages have become very enlightening in the last couple days.  Vagina, vagina, vagina.

  • Julian M Elson

    Somehow, I’m reminded of this: 

  • JonathanPelikan

    My favorite thing about this vagina thing so far is probably the Professional Left referring to the area as the ‘place where you do the trans-vaginal ultrasounds.’

    I fucking hate Republicans.

  • Chunky Style

    Peggy Hill has something to say:

  • PJ Evans

     Apparently they forgot that all of their mothers and wives have (or had) vaginas. I hope they heard lots about it when they got home.

  • In light of Vaginagate, is anyone else having flashbacks to the Bloodhound Gang album “Hooray for Boobies”? (The one mostly known for the song “The Bad Touch”, which is mostly known as “that discovery channel song”)

    I’m specifically thinking of the spoken-word track “Mama’s Boy”, a phone conversation between the singer and his mother, trying to brainstorm rhymes for a song (The relevant song is the next track, the rather cleverly named “Three Point One Four”). It ends like this:

    Mom: What if you change the word “vagina” to something else?
    Singer: You mean like “box” or “pussy” or “cunt”?

  • Uzza

    To oppose the Republicans we should form The Vagina Party.
    For those who have them;
    For those who like them.

  • Nirrti

    ” I am wishing I had more middle fingers with which to express my extreme irritation.”

    This sentence right here is just….classic.

    As for these legislators who keep trying to get into mine’s and every other woman’s private business, I hope there’s such thing as reincarnation. May each of them come back as a poor minority lesbian woman….with endometriosis.

  • *edit* Woops, I didn’t mean that to be a reply to you specifically Nirrti >< sorry

    I have been alternately laughing my ass off/pissed-off beyond words over the whole thing.

    I mean on the one hand, the idea of grown adult men throwing a fit over the use of the word 'vagina' is just hilarious.  I mean when you think about it it's basically like the kind of thing you'd get in one of those forgettable summer comedies that come out every damn year.  Only, you know, for real.

    On the other hand – then I remember these aren't just ANY grown adult men… these are frigging state legislators.  That's when the horror sets in – we have people THAT terribly immature wielding the levers of power. 

    When you take the whole war on women thing as a whole,  it's easy to get the distinct impression that half the male populace of the country never got beyond the whole 'girls are icky' phase of childhood.

    Then again given some of their other behavior, maybe that's not such a shock – they certainly seem to throw a tantrum whenever they fail to get their way.  Oh sure it's a sophisticated multimedia tantrum that uses a fair number of polysyllabic words -but nevertheless that's precisely what happens.

  • Jenny Islander

    Oh, but the silly emotional lady legislator shouldn’t have gotten so personal. Or so vehement.  After all, the  bill (which passed, did it not?) wasn’t about strangers controlling her body, oh no.  It was about controlling those other women.  The irresponsible ones.  The ones with no faces.  What did she have to go and get so emotional for?  She’s in the state congress, so of course she is an honorary real live person.  Not like them.  She shouldn’t have gotten so mixed up, poor sentimental hysterical thing.

    Also, if I knew how to artist and could do voice acting, I would redub one of Yakko, Wakko and Dot’s musical numbers to “Vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina, vaginaaa . . . “

  • I’m sure something can be done with Eric Idle’s FCC song.

  • The sheer level of lemon-sucking prudery exhibited by those legislators, along with the way they overreacted to another woman trying to make a point by proposing the vasectomy ban amendment, makes me wonder just what they think they’re accomplishing by so obviously trying to restrict women’s available reproductive choices.

  • I get the impression that the source of the offense was not the word “vagina” itself, but the subtext of the quip “I’m flattered that you’re all so concerned about my vagina.  But no means no.”  

    It is kind of like an earlier discussion we had about how racists consider being called racist as being, somehow, more offensive than actually being racist.  She implied that they had an interest in bedding her (“I’m flattered that you’re all so concerned about my vagina,”) and she tacitly rejected any such interest (“But no means no.”)  

    It was a two-fold punch to their sense of honor.  First, calling them out on being more interested in what she did with her own reproductive organs than the theoretical children a woman might have (getting called on one’s shit tends to smart) and the rejection was an affront to their sense of virility (she not only rejected them, she did it in front of their peers.)  

    If anything, I think that their extreme reaction, while unjustified, is certainly telling.  She hit a sore spot for them, and their lashing out demonstrates that she really hit their issues on the nose.  

  • Lori


    I get the impression that the source of the offense was not the word
    “vagina” itself, but the subtext of the quip “I’m flattered that you’re
    all so concerned about my vagina.  But no means no.” 

    Jase Bloger, the asshat Speaker of the House that issued the gag orders to Brown & Byrum, claimed that he objected to Brown’s use of “rape imagery”.  So (supposedly) the word “vagina” doesn’t give him the creeps, he just doesn’t like for a woman to point out that he’s trying to get inside her body without her permission. AFAIK Bolger hasn’t offered any remotely plausible explanation of why he silenced Byrum in addition to Brown since Byrum’s “offense” contained no rape imagery, implied or otherwise.

    I don’t think there’s really any issues about sexual rejection working here, not even subconsiously. I think what’s going on is that the kind of men who want to legislate women’s bodies really, really don’t like to be thwarted by a woman.  While they were busy using their power to wage the war on women, two women stood up and A) reminded those men that they have some power too (gasp) and B) made valid points in an effective and mocking manner that might have interfered with Bolger & Co getting their way. That can’t be allowed to happen, so Bolger abused his power in order to silence them.

    May Bolger get a rash in an embarrassing place that just will not heal up.

  • I am wishing I had more middle fingers with which to express my extreme irritation.

    I am sure that there are millions of Internet users who are willing to lend her theirs.

  • Otrame

    This has nothing to do with those legislators being afraid of the word vagina. Don’t let them side track you. This is about not letting women speak to a bill THAT ONLY AFFECTS WOMEN. The “OMG she said vagina, eww, eww, ewwwww” is just an excuse. Don’t lose sight of that.

  • Otrame

    Here you go. One shiny new Internet, just for you.

  • That’s a fair point.  Sometimes it’s easy to get sidetracked with surface level stupidity and ignore the rather disgusting heart of the matter.

    These people really piss me off.

  • LL

    Was trying to write a joke about this and just can’t. It’s really not funny anymore.

    The Republican attack on all things female is beyond parody. And is fast approaching the point past which humor is possible. I’m glad we’ve paid so much money to (supposedly) get rid of the Taliban, only to see it springing up over here, running state legislatures and trying to dominate the U.S. Congress. 

  •  As I’m incredibly cynical in some ways, I honestly suspect a lot of them don’t think they’re trying to accomplish anything.  I think they just know if they do this, it’ll gin up the base for November (so they can keep their jobs/get their party further elected.)

  • Julian M Elson

    Fred’s blogging has been commended as strongly vaginal.

  • Maude Lebowski.  Modern Cassandra.

  • GDwarf

    Somewhat off-topic, I know, but I need a bit of a place to rant, so I hope y’all don’t mind overmuch.

    So, I ‘unno how many of you have heard of the, well, crap cascade around the website Feminist Frequency and their kickstarter campaign to do a video series on sexism in video games.

    They asked for a few thousand to get some decent equipment to do the series, and got quite a bit of support. They also got a hell of a lot of backlash including plenty of rape threats, accusations of being secret Jewish terrorists, and misogyny thick enough you could probably use it to build bunkers.

    The good news is that they made something like 10x their funding goals.

    Anyways, this got me discussing sexism in games and the gaming community on a forum I frequent, and ye gods was it a nightmare. The number of people who deny that there’s any sexism in gaming was surprisingly high, and even more said it didn’t count because the creators weren’t being deliberately misogynist or it was “just marketing” or it doesn’t matter because it’s fiction.

    I just cannot wrap my head around this: They all agree that women get the short end of the stick in games, but some argue that it isn’t sexism unless you deliberately refuse to give women NPCs good roles, instead of just happening to make all the leaders/protagonists men. I can almost follow them that far, but then they go on to say that since it isn’t deliberate it doesn’t hurt anyone and shouldn’t be changed, which just…ugh.

    Then the ones who argue that since it’s fiction only “weak-willed” people who are looking for someone else to blame for their self-induced problems would blame it are…blargh.

    How did society end up at this point? Some of these are people that I otherwise respect, though admittedly a few of them are also rape apologists, so no surprises there. But how can someone agree that there is sexism but it’s okay because the games are designed to appeal to men? As if the fact that men apparently find sexism appealing is good.

    Blargh, rant over.

  • Not really OT at all, the Kickstarter project was the subject of the 7th link.

    A little more OT: Extra Credits talks about gender/diversity in games in a few of their episodes, and it’s a really good show about gaming/games in general, so if the topic interests you, check them out:

    Slightly more On topic example:

  • PJ Evans

     Maybe they should check the ESA. It has a report from 2011 that says the average age of players is 37, and 42 percent of them are female. So if the developers haven’t gotten the word, it’s probably because they aren’t trying to find out that their audience isn’t all teenage/young adult males.

  • I wrote it up last night (and it was secondhand even then) so it’s definitely already well-known.

    EDIT to add: The numbers of men who seem to think that “the way things are” means the “natural” order of things is the correct order of things is pretty depressing.


  • Also, without knowing the methodology of the study, it could just as easily be that male teenagers asking their mothers/aunts/etc for games biases the statistics.

    But I also agree that the game dev companies are at fault too, for not really looking hard at their demographic data.

  • J_

    Ooh, I want in on this.


    “Bloody mary,
    Bloody mary,
    Bloody mary.”

    (picture of Mohammed)

  • The_L1985

    Demographics, schmemographics. When most of the media a young person is exposed to is sexist, that person is more likely to internalize sexism without even realizing it.

    This holds true regardless of that young person’s gender.

  • Your link is broken (takes us to the WP admin panel for your site)
    Edit: It should point to

  • Demographics is also a pretty big chicken/egg thing. Is it perhaps possible that women tend not to like “hardcore” games as much as men because they’re objectified all over the place in them? Seems a hell of a lot more likely to me than “oh women just don’t like hardcore games because reasons.”

    If you watch the EC vid I linked earlier, they mention this as one of the main problems game designers have when designing female characters, viewing things like “girls tend to like pink” as intrinsic to being female instead of a pressure exerted on women by society.

  • That kind of gender-essentialist thinking is a definite cart before the horse thing. Instead of wondering if the preferences exhibited by men and women are a result of social pressures, the social pressures are assumed and the preferences thus revealed are then taken to be some kind of statement about “intrinsic” gender differences.

  • Dash1

    Just did a little checking around, since the internet is good for that sort of thing when one is not typing “vagina, vagina, vagina” on Michigan legislators’ Facebook pages. Seems Jase “Vagina” Bolger has been married to his high school sweetheart for 19 years. (I would have hoped that she might have graduated from high school in that amount of time, but, well, people are different.) They have two children. Just two. Two and only two.

    And they are Roman Catholics.

    Someone has not been following Papa Ratzinger’s instructions on the right way to manage the marital relationship. 

    (Yes, as a general rule such things are not for outsiders to comment upon, and I don’t. But as Mr. Vagina-Bolger has invited himself to pry into private matters best left to those directly involved, I assume he considers it appropriate so to pry. And since his religion suggests that he believes in the Golden Rule, I am sure he does to others only what he wants done to himself, and I for one will not be so churlish as to refuse to pry right back.)

  • And another thing: lots of games successfully appeal to women too. Because we play games too. Certain gaming companies have woken up to this fact. 

    So now there are a lot of games that appeal either mostly to women or to women and men equally. And some men are absolutely freaking out about it. The amount of insults the romances in Bioware’s latest games have taken from those men is both infuriating and instructive. 

    First, there are a lot of straight men who are threatened by the fact that there are people with sexualities other than theirs and that we have fantasy lives and many of us like to play video and computer games. Second, smart game companies aren’t listening to those men any longer. Because those men are a loud but small and shrinking minority. This garbage is their last gasp.

  • JonathanPelikan

    AngryJoe, a game critic I immensely respect and tend to agree with more often than not, voiced a similar complaint in his Dragon Age 2 review, about Anders, I think. He made it seem like the developers were practically forcing M!Hawke to Be Ghey, whereas in reality it’s just one of many options, and I know he was just making a joke about it, but it reflected that sort of attitude so well.

    It’s just a different manifestation/form of the ‘I can’t believe I have to press 1 for English on my phone!’ sort of ‘I’m offended that your existence is acknowledged and respected.’ Which is sort of how I feel about those sort of people; what irony!

    Personally, I’m on the ‘let’s have tawdry appeals/’fictional exploitation’/seuxalization, etc. to every shape and type’ train when it comes to how we improve our media and gaming, so the hypersexualixation of women isn’t something I’m in the streets about (also privilege by the bucket-loads) but otherwise I’m onboard with feminist critiques of gaming. Particularly the blaringly-obvious ones. 

    Damnit, Bioware, I’m on my nerdrage boycott of you and the REApers for what you did to Mass Effect 3’s ending, but if you keep heading in the direction of tolerance and liberalism inch by inch…

    EDIT: My spell checker seemed unable to comprehend that I wanted to type ‘privilege’ or ‘sexualization’. I should get the Feminist Terminology 3.6 patch…

    EDIT 2: Okay what the fuck, it kept my paragraph breaks… except the ones in the middle? Fuck you, Disquis. This isn’t hard.

  • AnonymousSam

    Allow me to make it worse. Quoting Jim Stamas, Republican majority leader:

    “House Republicans often go beyond simply allowing debate by welcoming open and passionate discussion of the issues before this chamber,” he added. “The only way we can continue doing so, however, is to ensure that the proper level of maturity and civility are maintained on the House floor.”

  • Julian M Elson

    My kick a while ago was playing Medieval II: Total War. I’m not super mad about the fact that you can’t recruit armies of women, but it really does seem like they went further than historically justified in excluding women. The only women who appear at all in the game as anything other than ancillaries are princesses (and only princesses, i.e., daughters of the king or faction heir, not other women in the royal family like the king’s niece cousin or the like, who are pure husband-bait), and all they can do is negotiate treaties and snag a man.

    Jeanne d’Arc is an ancillary. She can’t even lead your French armies against the English. All she can do is hang out with one of your (male) generals and add to his piety, command, and morale.

    Women never become faction leaders. Your king has a bunch of daughters and no sons then dies? Maybe his younger brother becomes king. Your king doesn’t have any family members left but daughters? One of their husbands becomes king. Your king doesn’t have any family members left but unmarried daughters and dies? Your faction ends. No queens! Yup, the Middle Ages were a sexist time, so the game has to be sexist to be true to the time. What about Byzantine Empresses like Zoe Karbopsina or powerful Ladies like Eleanor of Aquitaine? Not historically accurate in a sexist age!

    That’s for Catholic and Orthodox factions. Muslim factions don’t even have princesses. Women are completely in the background for Muslim factions.

  •  So what they’re saying is the level of maturity and civility required on the House Floor is roughly equivelant to 4th grade?  >.<  Because that's what I'm getting from that quote.

    I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

  • We need some good slogans for this:  

    “Your right to religious liberty ends where my genitalia begins!”  

    “You do not have a monopoly on potential life!”  

    “Down with sexual counter-revolutionaries!”

  • Münchner Kindl

    “House Republicans often go beyond simply allowing debate by welcoming open and passionate discussion of the issues before this chamber,” he added. “The only way we can continue doing so, however, is to ensure that the proper level of maturity and civility are maintained on the House floor.”

    So the right to speak up in the House is not an automatic right for legislators, it’s a privilege graciously granted by the nice Old White Men in Power that can be taken away if those others aren’t nice and quiet enough about it?

    Yeah, that’s how democracy should work. Oh wait, you are a republic, not a democracy, because the only democratic system Americans know of is direct democracy, which doesn’t work.

    And too bad that you are bound by the 200+ year old rules laid down by the Holy Farseeing Founding Fathers and have no way to adapt the methods to modern circumstances. So women will have to civil or silent in legislature, as was normal back then.

  • Lori

    How did society end up at this point?

    Many strong, brave women fought and sacrificed to get us to it.

    We’re at a point where there are people like you who can recognize the injustice in video games and find it distressing and where women can publicly raise money, and far exceed their goal, to talk openly about it. The attitudes you encountered are ignorant and horrifying, but compared to most of human history they represent progress, and that’s both the worst and the best thing about them.

    I wish the folks at Feminist Frequency well with their project. May it teach a few things to the idiots who think that as long as one can claim that it’s not on purpose it’s A-OK.

    Side note: I used to work for the parent company of Blizzard and as a result was pretty well acquainted (in a co-worker way) with a number of game developers. I know for a fact that even then (10+ years ago) they were well aware of the issue of female roles, or the lack thereof, in games and made a conscious decision not to change anything because they didn’t want to upset guys by getting girl cooties all over their precious. By any reasonable standard that counts as “on purpose”. So even if it were true that as long as it’s not on purpose no harm, no foul (which is such a monumentally stupid notion that I can’t even) that would be irrelevant to a discussion of sexism in video games.

  • Lori

     I saw one sign from yesterday’s protest that said “I did not come from your rib. You came from my vagina.”

  • However, you can have Priests who are Secretly Female – they can even ascend to the Papacy!

  • Julian M Elson

    True. It’s a little weird, though, that they totally excluded women from positions of feudal power, while having this weird thing of cross-dressing women in the priesthood.

    Although maybe it’s just that the whole “ruling family” mechanic was too universal. It’s not too bad for a Salic Law country like France. It doesn’t work too well for England. It falls apart completely trying to represent, say, Venice. That’s a bit far afield of the issue of sexism in video games, though.