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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."

Keith F Thompson April 17, 2013 at 01:44 AM
Another non-apology apology. He is sorry IF he offended anyone, leaving the onus on those offended, rather than him. His comments WERE offensive, and his apology should have said so. Too little, too late.
If? Non-apology not accepted.
Houstongirl April 17, 2013 at 03:57 AM
In the context of the entire Stand Your Ground debate, Hansen, to any educated reader was referring to the way that an attacker entering a women's home would see its most vulnerable occupants. To a potential rapist, a woman is not a person, is not a human being. To the attacker a woman is a vagina, and in that case is only useful as a receptacle for the rapist's violence. For a person to think that Hansen used the word "vagina" to refer to how he as a law-abiding man felt about women, is deliberately disingenuous. Or maybe the liberal legislators in your state are just stupid, or they thought that if they deliberately misinterpreted what Hansen meant, they could use his words to vilify him. Fortunately, I live in a state that has the Castle Doctrine. If a rapist enters MY house, he will have mere seconds to think of me as a "vagina" before he feels the impact of the bullet from my gun. Why should women have a legal obligation to retreat when an attacker enters HER HOME? No. She should have the RIGHT to defend her body, her children, and her home. THAT was what Hansen was saying. Sad for your state that so many of you missed that.
Houstongirl April 17, 2013 at 04:27 AM
Sad also that some of the women in your state choose to be offended when, if they are allowed to "Stand Their Ground," they would be empowered. In Texas,women don't cower. We don't retreat when lunatics enter our homes. And we don't apologize for defending ourselves. Our laws empower us to defend ourselves and our children. In Texas, the old phrase still holds true--"I am woman, hear me roar." Hansen seems to want that for your state. The question remains, however. Do YOU?
Jim U Lacrum April 17, 2013 at 05:14 AM
He's a fool for talking like that, and it wouldn't be an inappropriate consequence for him to find himself very short of support in the next election. But, honestly, what makes this faux pas important enough to contend with the real issues facing New Hampshire right now? Great, this guy said something stupid and offensive. Don't vote for him. End of story. Now occupy yourselves with something meaningful.
Brian Hayek April 17, 2013 at 08:35 AM
Can someone explain what's offensive? Wasn't this pretty clearly contextual referencing towards an out of date attitude of women? It's clear he's comparing the inference that women should "run away" as synonymous with treating women as "vaginas". For christ's sake, what the hell is wrong with you people?
Brian Hayek April 17, 2013 at 08:45 AM
Are you a slave owner, a serial killer, or a rapist? I would presume not, then how are you offended, precisely? Is it racist to say that people of darker skin pigments were looked at by slaveowners as 'subhuman' or "animals"? Or is it that attitude that's offensive? Because pointing out a matter of fact of other mindset's is a matter of self evident deductive reasoning.
Jan Schmidt April 17, 2013 at 11:49 AM
The bill in question removed zero rights for a woman to defend herself.
rick barasso April 17, 2013 at 11:50 AM
If you don't think he speaks for the Republican Party, with respect to women. Just look at the voting record on women's issues. I think you'll find, he is the perfect spokesperson for the ideals and beliefs of the Republican Party. Again, you don't have to believe me, just look at their long-standing records...
Jan Schmidt April 17, 2013 at 11:52 AM
The Castile Doctrine is complete and untouched in NH. He as a fellow Rep should have known this as the amended bill had already been presented to us in Chamber.
Brian Hayek April 17, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Then tell us Jan, what is the purpose of taking away the woman's right to defend herself in an alleyway, a friends house, or her place of business? Telling her to "retreat" is like telling a predator to play cat and mouse. As you may note, people who were polled on this site were overwhelmingly opposed to your 'minor' change. Believe it or not, women would like the right to defend themselves, despite their political affiliation. My fiance has been the victim of a street predator and was physically beaten. Should she have run away faster? She was outside of her home, after all.
Atlant April 17, 2013 at 11:56 AM
> 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," ... Peter; we all know what word you *REALLY* meant; we understand what you really wanted to say. Let's hope Amherst's voters (and especially the women voters of Amherst) remember this in 2014.
Reality Geezer April 17, 2013 at 11:59 AM
How do these idiots get elected????
judith April 17, 2013 at 12:03 PM
This man obviously has no respect for his mother. Is he stupid, a chavanist or what?
Jan Schmidt April 17, 2013 at 12:08 PM
Perhaps you don't understand... HB 135 does not remove a person's right to defend themselves using deadly force. I'm sorry for your friend, if she had had a weapon she would be free to use it before SYG, now... And if we are lucky enough to pass its repeal, we all will retain that right. Self defense is inviolate in NH. Period. I was answering an out of state person who might not know the process here, or have access to the information. As you are in NH I'm surprised we still need to talk about this. This article is about an email that some people found offensive, not SYG. There are other articles on Patch for that.
Brian Hayek April 17, 2013 at 12:19 PM
I'm quite familiar. Unfortunately, she was in a State that did not permit the open carry of firearms (Connecticut), and has moved to NH to seek refuge for the ability to defend herself. I read the language in the bill; why cross out the section that" "Retreat from the encounter, except that he or she is not required to retreat if he or she is within his or her dwelling , its curtilage, [OR ANYWHERE SHE HAS THE RIGHT TO BE]" The capital letters are what was removed. I ask you, what purpose does this serve other than telling women they should not defend themselves outside of their dwelling? What possible benefit does this add for any woman's right to defend herself. Evidently, she is directly being told to retreat, which as my fiance will tell you, is insulting.
Seamus Carty April 17, 2013 at 02:42 PM
"Peter; we all know what word you *REALLY* meant; we understand what you really wanted to say." Atlant has apparently added mind-reading to his amazing set of skills...
not-so-free April 17, 2013 at 03:55 PM
No respect for women at all. And published this to the legislative email. I think the people are really out of touch with who it is they voted into office from this district.
Atlant April 17, 2013 at 04:06 PM
Reading the Patch comments, you need to even ask?
Atlant April 17, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Seamus: Why don't you go ask any of the women in your life if I'm wrong. Perhaps they can explain it to you in a way that you'll understand.
Diane Raymond April 17, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Jan is a state rep who has actually READ this bill. The whole thing, fine print included. Have you? Or are you just listening to blather and choosing to believe it?
rick barasso April 17, 2013 at 05:44 PM
Why does the tune "another one bites the dust" keep going around in my head?
Atlant April 17, 2013 at 09:33 PM
It's also worth noting that this story, like so many out of NH's Teapublican Party, is getting national play. Once again, our Right has made the Granite State a laughingstock.
Atlant April 17, 2013 at 09:57 PM
For example, prominently placed on the home page of he San Francisco Chronicle: http://www.sfgate.com/news/us/article/NH-legislator-sorry-for-calling-women-vaginas-4441150.php
Brian Hayek April 17, 2013 at 10:50 PM
Yes; I just quoted the bill, with the exact wording inside the provision highlighted. Are you trying to teach irony, or did you seriously not see hypocrisy in published writing for the world to see? Quite revealing, what was the basis of your assertion? It appears you're motivated by Ad-verecundiam fallacies; I encourage you to challenge your preconceived notions.
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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