Two lawmakers, Lisa Brown and Barb Byrum, were recently banned from speaking in the Michigan House of Representatives after arguing against a piece of legislation that contained a bunch of essentially anti-woman program cuts and abortion restrictions. The legislation itself raised some concern in Michigan because it was being rushed through at the last legislative minute, but things really got kicked off when the news came out that these women had been silenced for speaking their minds. This spurred an event called, “Vaginas Take Back the Capitol!”
Since you don’t actually have to have a vagina to help vaginas take back the capitol, my son and I attended the event, and I discovered that babies make awesome activists.
Before I go on, I want to make one thing clear. I wouldn’t blink if these women had been banned for potty mouth or racist speech, but Rep. Byrum was banned for speaking out of order when she yelled “vasectomy” on the House floor – she was making the point that if the abortion debate is about reproductive health, then we might want to consider banning vasectomies as well as abortions – and Rep. Brown was banned for a speech that she gave.
Brown’s banning in particular was a rallying point for protestors, whose slogan was “VAGINA. If you can’t say it, don’t legislate it.” Since everyone in my family came out of a vagina, and since my wife actually owns one, we decided to attend the event as a family. The showcase of the event was a reading of the Vagina Monologues by local politicians (including the two banned representatives), actresses, and the author of the Vagina Monologues herself, Eve Ensler.
In the process of helping Vaginas Take Back the Capitol!, I learned that babies are the best activists in the business. Here’s why:
1) They work for breastmilk.
Believe me, when parents show up at a protest with a baby, they’re in it for the long haul. Diapers, toys, and a ready supply of breastmilk are all a little one needs to ride out a rally in style.
2) They’re too cute to pepper spray.
What could be cuter than babies wearing shirts bearing clever, and sometimes outright bawdy, puns about vaginas? Maybe cats in boxes or a clever pixelated 8bitdad photoshop job, but that’s about it. Out come the cameras and away goes the pepper spray.
3) They will clap for anything.
Look, politicians, activists, and organizers are dedicated, but no amount of dedication can get a crowd on its feet. Vaginas Take Back the Capitol! had a great crowd response because we were able to rally behind an award-winning play, but even before the performance started, my son was clapping like a maniac at the slightest provocation. Random unintelligible mumbling into the mike – clapping! Introduction of lawmakers – clapping! Darkly humorous yet heartrending excerpt from the Vagina Monologues – clapping! (Well, two out of three ain’t bad…)
Why did I show up to an event revolving around vaginas? Let me drop some science on you. Fathers are important, but giving women more money, education, and services is the most reliable way to consistently improve the quality of children’s lives in both developed and developing countries. So, we 8BitDads acknowledge (begrudgingly) that we wouldn’t be the fathers that we are today – or fathers at all – without a little help from vaginas.
Thanks to Eclectablog for the crowd shot and their friendly policy about sharing media.