COMMENTARY | Michigan Democratic State Representative Lisa Brown was silenced recently by state Republicans during her statements against proposed anti-abortion legislation. She ended her comments with, "and finally, Mr. Speaker, I'm flattered that you're all so interested in my vagina, but 'no' means 'no'." Republicans are now trying to say they took offense with the part about no meaning no, saying it was a rape reference rather than with the word "vagina," according to MSNBC. That might be the stupidest move they could have made.
Republicans committed two major errors. By objecting to the phrase "no' means no" Republicans are against an affirmative stance that rape is wrong. It makes them seem insensitive to rape victims. The objection can easily be spun into an attack against the right wing as not caring about women. The bigger error is in what can be inferred from their objection to Brown's comments.
By objecting to comments about rape they implicitly declare consensual sex not objectionable. By claiming the word "vagina" was not the source of their objection, they explicitly declare the word not objectionable. This hands Brown an incredibly powerful political weapon. She can use their statements against the Republicans as a filibuster tool.
Whenever speaking about legislation to which she objects, all Brown needs to do is relate it to how it will affect women. She can keep up the cringe-worthy chant it for as long as it takes to run a session out of time.
If Republicans object they immediately admit they lied about their objection to her recent comments and declare themselves as against women. They would be stuck between a rock and a hard place with no easy way out.
It was a mistake for Republicans to silence her. The smart move would have been admitting their error and apologizing so they could put the episode behind them. Their continued attempts to spin the story are just digging them deeper into a hole. It's only a matter of time before it collapses in on them.