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NH Rep. Apologizes for 'Vaginas' Comment

House GOP Leader condemns reference to women as 'repugnant and unbecoming of an elected official.' Pro-choice NH blasts email as 'demeaning rhetoric.'

State Rep. Peter Hansen (R-Amherst), in an email to House colleagues earlier this month about a bill to repeal New Hampshire's "stand your ground" law, referred to women as "vaginas," prompting a wave of criticism from women's organizations to House Republican Leader Gene Chandler.

Chandler said, "These comments are repugnant and unbecoming of an elected official. They have no place in public discourse. Rep. Hansen’s comments in no way reflect the opinions of House Republicans or the Republican Party. Rep. Hansen should apologize immediately. We need to focus on finding real solutions to solve New Hampshire’s problems rather than engaging in unproductive and unprofessional discussions via email."

Sara Persechino, policy and community relations director for NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire, condemned the word choice earlier Tuesday.

"We are shocked and disgusted by this derogatory comment," Persechino said in a statement. "Representative Peter Hansen was elected to represent the citizens of his district and this state; referring to women as "vaginas” is not in line with New Hampshire’s value of equality for all. Shame on Representative Hansen—we will do everything in our power to ensure voters in his district know about his demeaning rhetoric. Women are more than their reproductive organs. We are daughters, sisters, mothers, students, professionals, and community leaders. We deserve more than being referenced by our body parts."

Hansen, in an email to everyone in the 400-member House, was offering a counter argument to a floor speech by Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R-Manchester), who maintained that state law prior to "stand your ground" taking effect in the last legislative session was perfectly adequate. Hansen wrote, according to the email being forwarded around by fellow lawmakers:

"There were two critical ingredients missing in the illustrious stories purporting to demonstrate the practical side of retreat. Not that retreat may not be possible mind you. 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 {sic} 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. The presence of one or both ingredients demands that a potential totally different outcome might have prevailed and that is the factor which I believe was dismissed in the HB 135 debate and vote."

Rep. Rick Watrous (D-Concord) immediately commented on the email's inappropriateness. "I called him on it," Watrous said in an interview Tuesday. "I thought it was discourteous and uncivil."

"It's not like you're talking in a bar to your buddies," Watrous added. "You're talking to 400 Reps."

Watrous said the two had an exchange, and he then let it go, which he said occurred on April 1. The email with its "children and vagina's" reference continued to snowball. On Monday, liberal blogger Susan "The" Bruce fanned the flames under a post, "Vagina's and Children First."

Reached by phone tonight, Hansen explained he had intended his lyrical flourish as a provocative means to challenge state representatives on House Bill 135, the "stand your ground" repeal bill. House members in favor of the repeal spoke of a person's ability to retreat, but Hansen said he was trying to show a scenario in which a woman was with children and might not be able to retreat.

"If people are offended, I apologize. It was not my intent," Hansen said in the phone interview.

"It was done for a purpose, apparently that back-fired. There was no malice at all, with respect to the use of the word."

He added, by email to Amherst Patch: "I need to be clear on this one issue. I continue to be apologetic for my thoughtless use of the word however in no way, however it is interpreted, was it my intent to refer to women in the context of the word used. I regret the use of the word but in no way was it my intent to substitute one word for another."

Dan April 17, 2013 at 11:24 PM
Representative Hansen = Dirty Old Man. Simple as that.
Apljak April 17, 2013 at 11:38 PM
Just to clarify, I am not offended nor do I think that people who are intellectually honest are offended. What I know, however, is that politics is dirty and those that can benefit from blowing this out of proportion are going to do so! For that reason, I just wish that these guys would think twice before speaking or trying to be "creative"!
Apljak April 17, 2013 at 11:41 PM
Brian, nice argument. I should have remembered that one from college! But aren't all politicians experts. Feinstein would have you believe otherwise!!
Seamus Carty April 18, 2013 at 09:51 PM
What "word" is it that Atlant KNOWS that the rep wanted to say? How does Atlant know this? Is it mind-reading or does Atlant have some information that the rest of us do not have as he is the spouse of a state rep?
Chris Balch May 06, 2013 at 01:11 PM
Well, Rep Hansen, if this is all really ok, then I guess I'm just a "dick."

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