Vagina: Say It With Me Now!
I’d just like to take a little time on this beautiful Friday to say vagina.
Vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina.
Because that’s what it’s called. And it’s 2012. And it’s always okay to talk about the parts of me some penis-having Troglodyte wants to legislate.
We’re reaching this point where every political story to come out of this country reads like something from The Onion, and frankly, I find it terrifying. The most recent story to invoke my outrage is the one where Michigan Republicans are barring two elected female representatives from speaking in the state House because one dared to be anatomically correct and the other—to illustrate her legislative point—dared to suggest state regulation of vasectomies.
When I first read the story, all I could think was, Really, America?
But then I remembered some things, and this creepy reality that is 21st Century America actually started to make sense in my mind.
In 1997, I was a junior in high school, and I took an American history class taught by a man we called Mr. Lackey. (Because that was his name.) Mr. Lackey gave off this 95%-of-you-teenagers-are-idiots vibe that seemed somehow unsuitable for a person in his position. However, a great deal of his students were idiots and never really caught on.
Anyway, Mr. Lackey was always testing us with what I considered to be these random, obtuse exercises. At the time, I thought it was to see if any of us had a lick of common sense. One morning, for one particular exercise, he informed us that we’d go around the room one at a time and each of us would recite all or part of a famous quote. My seat was in the middle of the room, so upon hearing this, I became a little nervous that all of the famous quotes I could conjure from the recesses of my memory would be used up by the time my turn came around.
The first student started with “Four score and seven years ago.” The next came up with, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” The third wavered for a while but finally came up with, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Student four was out. Just gave up. And then for two more rows, the students dropped like flies.
Mr. Lackey decided to prod the girl in front of me for a bit, just to make her sweat. “Really?” he said. “You can’t think of even three or four words of a famous quote.”
“No,” she kept replying. “I just don’t know.” She shook her head and looked down at her arms folded in her lap. Total defeat.
Mr. Lackey looked at me, and I said, “I have a dream…” And all the students who had previously given up without a fight exhaled together a collective “D’oh!”
A few weeks later, Mr. Lackey posited the following question to us: What would it take to make all abortion illegal?
You see, it’s common practice in the state of Indiana—and it has been for some time—for a great majority of citizens to elect politicians based solely on their stance on abortion. I know our fine state is not alone on that count.
At any rate, Mr. Lackey presented us with that question. I knew the answer immediately, but I always hated speaking out in class and decided to wait for someone else to raise a hand. Only no one did. There was only silence and the disapproving, hopeless look on Mr. Lackey’s face.
I couldn’t take it anymore, so I raised a hand. Mr. Lackey told me to go ahead.
“Well,” I said. “You’d have to get the Supreme Court to reverse their decision. And that would probably take some new justices. But the odds of them rehashing something like that in the first place…” I felt the eyes of my classmates on me, so I stopped talking.
Mr. Lackey smiled. He picked up where I left off, discussing the idea and all of its complexities.
Back then, I just thought of myself as smarter than most of my classmates, but that’s not really what was going on (much as I wish it were true). The thing is that I was just willing to use my brain in a different way than the rest of my peers. They were used to being spoon-fed information and then regurgitating it for a test. They lived their whole lives like that, actually.
Q: Who loves you?
Q: What does Jesus also love?
Q: So who should you vote for?
So when Mr. Lackey asked us to recite a quote or explain how to overturn Roe v. Wade, it’s no wonder his questions were frequently met with quiet drooling and blank stares. And here I am at 32, my peers and their parents are running stuff nowadays, and so many of them still have their heads filled with the Right Answers™ that they’ve forgotten how to think about questions.
So when these political parrots reach into their memory banks for the correct response to the word “vagina” being uttered in the House, they come up with nothing. Inside their heads a red light flashes and an alarm sounds. That must be one of the words we are not allowed to say. Profanity! Profanity!
In my mind’s eye, I can see Mr. Lackey standing in front of a room of high school juniors asking, “Can anyone tell me what the medical term for a hoochie is?”
If I were there, I hope I wouldn’t be too shy to shout, “VAGINA!”