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Rep. Lisa Brown, Eve Ensler, Michigan State Sen. & Reps Perform "The Vagina Monologues" on Steps of Michigan Capitol

06/18/2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:

Robert McCann / Michigan Senate Democrats
rmccann@senatedems.org; 517.980.3494
Susan Celia Swan / V-Day
susan@vday.org; 917.865.6603

REP. LISA BROWN, TONY AWARD WINNER EVE ENSLER,
MICHIGAN STATE SENATORS AND RERESENTATIVES,
AND LOCAL ACTORS TO PERFORM THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES
ON THE STEPS OF THE MICHIGAN CAPITOL TONIGHT

June 18, 2012 - This evening, Michigan Senators and Representatives will be joined by Tony Award winning playwright and V-Day Founder/Artistic Director Eve Ensler as well as local activists and actors for a special performance of Ensler's award winning play The Vagina Monologues on the Michigan Capitol Steps.

The grounds will open to the public at 5pm, with the performance starting at 6pm. Limited seating will be available on a first come, first served basis. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets in case seating runs out.

The event, which has garnered worldwide media attention, is part of an organized response to the recent banning of Michigan State Rep. Lisa Brown from publicly speaking in the House. On June 14th, Rep. Brown was banned by Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas and House Republicans for using the word "vagina" during a debate on a bill that puts new restrictions on abortion providers. Brown, who voted against the legislation, told supporters of the bill, "I'm flattered you're all so concerned about my vagina. But no means no."

"For 14 years at V-Day, we've seen the power of saying the word 'vagina.' We've seen how it's freed women from their shame and empowered them to break the silence and become leaders in their communities. By saying the word 'vagina' and making it okay to say the word 'vagina,' we take away the humiliation, fear, and myths that often surround it," stated Ensler, who traveled in for the event from Berkeley, CA where she is world premiering her newest play, Emotional Creature at Berkeley Repertory Theater. "Censoring a woman for saying a word that is a body part that 51% of their constituents have is a repression that we have not and should not ever witness in this country."

Ensler has called on V-Day activists from around the region to attend the event. In 2012 over 5,800 V-Day benefit events took place produced by volunteer activists in the U.S. and around the world raising awareness and funds for grassroots anti-violence groups. V-Day has just launched its most ambitious campaign to date - One Billion Rising, a worldwide day of action calling on one billion women and those who love them to strike, dance, and rise to end violence against women and girls on 2.14.13, V-Day's 15th anniversary.

Sen. Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D- East Lansing), Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor), Rep. Barb Byrum (D- Onondaga), Rep. Stacy Erwin Oakes (D-Saginaw), Rep. Dian Slavens (D- Canton Township), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D- Detroit), Rep. Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield), Rep. Vicki Barnett (D-Farmington Hill), Rep. Joan Bauer (D-Lansing), Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton (D-MI 27th District), and Rep. Maureen Stapleton (D-Detroit), will perform along with Ensler and local actors including Q'Amara Black, Jan Blixt, Renee Chelian, Barb Christine, Ruth Crawford, Mary Jo Cuppone, Madison Deadman, Courtney Jo Dempsey-Burkett, Naz Edwards, Rana Elmir, Cecillia Fierro, Lindsey Ford, Julia Glander, Jennifer Graham, Holly Hughes, Lynn Lammers, Elitza Nicolaou, Sally Pesetsky, Suzi Regan, Jasmine Rivera, Eva Rosenwald, Chelsea Sadler, Dana Sutton, Emily Sutton-Smith.*

"I look forward to joining these powerful women from across the nation in sending a message that we are proud of ourselves, proud of our bodies and proud of the message that we have to offer," said Senator Whitmer, the highest-ranking woman in Michigan Government. "I want my two daughters to know that their Mom and countless other women stood up for them as they grow into the next generation of strong women."

"They banned me from speaking because I dared say vagina, the correct, medical name of apart of a woman's anatomy these lawmakers are trying to regulate," added Representative Brown. "I'm outraged that there are Michigan legislators that not only want to dictate what women can do, but what we can say."

Local and state activists as well as actors have also signed on to perform and protest on the Capital Steps on Monday. Over the past 14 years V-Day has mobilized activists from more than 140 countries and worked tirelessly on a grassroots level to demand an end to all forms of violence against women and girls. This latest action in Michigan will call on the many college and community V-Day organizers in the area to step up and let the House Republicans know that banning 'vagina' is not acceptable.

"Nowhere is freedom of speech more essential than in our legislative bodies," said Senator Warren. "What we are facing is not simply a question of pro-choice or anti-choice policy - this is about whether women will be allowed to freely participate in the debate. It is an issue that should disturb and engage Michiganders from every corner of our state."

Activists who would like to get involved can contact Valerie Keefe who will provide further information. Valerie can be reached at vkeefe@senatedems.org or by phone at (517) 316-6420.

There is also a Facebook event page for the event https://www.facebook.com/events/268583796582574

*Subject to change

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About V-Day
V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Playwright/Founder Eve Ensler's award winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works. In 2012, over 5,800 V-Day benefit events took place produced by volunteer activists in the U.S. and around the world, educating millions of people about the reality of violence against women and girls. To date, the V-Day movement has raised over $90 million and educated millions about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end it, crafted international educational, media and PSA campaigns, reopened shelters, and funded over 14,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, South Dakota, Egypt and Iraq. Over 300 million people have seen a V-Day benefit event in their community. V-Day has received numerous acknowledgements including Worth Magazine's 100 Best Charities, Marie Claire Magazine's Top Ten Charities, one of the Top-Rated organizations on Philanthropedia/Guidestar and Great Nonprofits. V-Day's newest campaign is ONE BILLION RISING which will culminate on 021413 with a global action worldwide. www.vday.org

About One Billion Rising
One in three women on the planet is raped or beaten in her lifetime. That is ONE BILLION WOMEN violated. One billion daughters, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, lovers and friends. On 14th February 2013, V-Day's 15th Anniversary, we are inviting ONE BILLION women and those who love them to WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to this violence. ONE BILLION RISING will move the earth, activating women and men to dance across every country. V-Day wants the world to see our collective strength, our numbers and our solidarity across borders. Join V-Day and ONE BILLION RISING today and SAY NO to violence against women and girls. To sign up and learn more, visit www.onebillionrising.org