Julia Gazdag
April 18, 2013 6:27 am

Here’s a tip, friends: when emailing colleagues in your work life, try to refrain from referring to groups of people based on their shared genitalia. I know that, instinctively, your first impulse is to email your fellow State Representative and refer to all women simply as, “vagina’s” [sic], but this may, in fact, be a less than professional move. Oh wait, no, that was just New Hampshire State Rep. Peter Hansen. That’s who that was. Everyone else, carry on with not calling all women “vagina’s” or misusing apostrophes.

Hansen was responding to a fellow NH State Representative’s floor speech on gun control, in which he talked about retreating being a better approach than using deadly force. Below, the gemiest gem of a paragraph from Hansen’s email, which he had sent to several colleagues as part of an email debate:

I guess someone ditched the State Capitol sexual harassment seminar (and English class) eternity years in a row. Or 9th grade bio where, among other revolutionary scientific principles, they teach that the female body is, in fact, comprised of various elements in addition to the vagina (it’s true, I looked it up). For example, I am currently typing this with my non-vaginal fingers, which are comprised of non-labial bone and tissue.

Both State Republicans and Democrats replied immediately, noting their offense at Hansen’s choice of words. State Rep. Rick Watrous called him out, saying, “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 [sic].” State Republican chair Jennifer Horn called Hansen’s choice of words, “disrespectful and shameful.” Let’s just rewind and marvel at how Hansen wrote something this ignorantly offensive to a STATE LEGISLATOR LISTSERV.

Hansen’s response:

Listen. You can’t throw apostrophes around all willy-nilly like confetti at a parade, misuse capitalization, write run-on sentences until the grammar fairy dies a death so horrible that no amount of clapping can bring her back, and then try to win an argument by claiming to be well-educated. With regard to turning “a well [–> <–] founded strategy” into an “accusation,”

As for finding the word vagina offensive, Hansen clearly missed the point. The word itself isn’t offensive – it’s a medical term for lady brambles and it would be nice to see a Republican politician not running from it, if he knew how to use it correctly. The offense here is that he used female genitalia to refer to all women, in essence reducing them to being identified solely by their reproductive bits. And that is some f*ckery, which we will not have.

Once enough people had taken offense to Hansen’s comment that it started taking up more of his time and energy than he was interested in giving, he softened his reply to a flimsy apologetic statement:

Please note that he doesn’t apologize for having been an insensitive, derogatory sexist of a public representative in a public space. He’s sorry you were offended. It’s your fault for being an oversensitive idiot and not knowing the he has nothing against vaginas women. Who dares to quote an entire paragraph from an email that his State Congress did a collective spit-take to? Clearly the problem is that it’s “out of context.” Whether or not Hansen feels remorse for his crimes against grammar remains to be seen.

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