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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

April-17-13

NH State Representative Reduces Women to Vaginas

New Hampshire State Rep. Peter Hansen (R) is being critized for an e-mail he sent to fellow representative Steve Vaillancourt (R) in which he used the word "vaginas" to refer to women. In an email conversation among the state legislators about a controversial "Stand Your Ground" law, Vaillancourt had been advocating retreating when a physical threat is posed, and resorting to deadly force only when pursued after that point. Hansen countered his argument by saying "What could possibly be missing from those factual tales of successful retreat in VT, Germany, and the bowels of Amsterdam? Why children and vagina's of course. While the tales relate the actions of a solitary male the outcome cannot relate to similar situations where children and women and mothers are the potential victims," emphasis added.

Multiple representatives who viewed the e-mail responded angrily, admonishing Hansen for his terminology. State Rep. Rick Watrous(D-Concord) replied "Are you really using 'vaginas' as a crude catch-all for women? Really? Please think before you send out such offensive language on the legislative listserve."

A speaker from NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire made the comment "[Women] are daughters, sisters, mothers, students, professionals, and community leaders. We deserve more than being referenced by our body parts."

Hansen's initially defended his wording: "Having a fairly well educated mind I do not need self appointed wardens to A: try to put words in my mouth for political gain and B: Turn a well founded strategy in communication into an insulting accusation, and finally if you find the noun vagina insulting or in some way offensive then perhaps a better exercise might be for you to re-examine your psyche." He later issued an apology "to those who took offense."

Media Resources: ThinkProgress 4/17/2013; The Raw Story 4/16/2013; Huffington Post 4/16/2013


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