In the battle over abortion and contraception, activists have a new favorite word: Vagina. When Michigan state Representative Lisa Brown used this anatomical term in the debates over Michigan Republican’s sweepingly pro-life legislative moves, she probably had no idea she was inspiring women to join Even Ensler’s bandwagon and produce their own Vagina Monologues, but inspire she did as you can see here in the coverage of a Lansing, MI protest that included a staging of that play and in this popular image found all over the web:
Rep. Brown was banned for one day from speaking on the Michigan House floor for unprofessional language. Activists highlighted the absurdity found in silencing her for using a medical term when referencing a body part so intimately involved in the abortion procedures the legislature voted to further regulate (more on this here).
A story from Geoff Nunberg goes into detail about the fight over propreity in the use of body part terms in public discussion. His article reminded me that by controlling the (literal) terms of the debate, people in power can create the outcomes they choose. What are your favorite political and social movement fights over terminology?