With the #MeToo movement and then the Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings directing attention again to the state of women’s rights in America and the real possibility of an overturn of Roe v. Wade – reproductive justice groups have been ramping up their fight. One of those groups is Lady Parts Justice.
As founder Lizz Winstead describes it, Lady Parts Justice, “is a reproductive rights non-profit that raises awareness about all the crummy laws that are happening in all 50 states that center around reproductive rights.” But they’re not your average non-profit that sends out mailers and holds the occasional rally – they use humor, sarcasm and facts to get their message across. Think, The Daily Show (which Lizz co-created) meets Teen Vogue as of late. Or hell just watch one of their sketches.
This coming Sunday night at 8pm EST (5pm PST), they’ll be premiering their 2018 Golden Probes Award Ceremony. You can watch it streaming at GoldenProbes.com, at Margaret Cho or at The Other 98% facebook page. Like most award ceremonies, the Golden Probes has a line up of actors and actresses of TV and film – along with some bad ass activists. Comedian Margaret Cho hosts the awards and the presenters include everyone from Stormy Daniels to the cast of Orange is the New Black to the woman that climbed the Statue of Liberty to bring attention to immigrant rights, Patricia Okoumou. Like all award ceremony they’re all fabulously dressed on the red carpet – but unlike most award ceremonies the men and women winning the awards aren’t showing up to this accept.
That’s because the Golden Probes 2018 awards the worst of the worst of state and local politicians and activists that use their power to pass laws that restrict women’s right to choose, that go after the rights of LGBT citizens and well, are in general vile humans.
This week I interviewed Lady Parts Justice founder, Lizz Winstead about the Golden Probes, about her group and the state of women’s rights in this county, you can find the full interview here on my podcast.
Lizz Winstead: The Golden Probes are an annual event that we do every year, sort of going back to helping folks learn about state and local politicians. We were like, how do we really get people to understand the crucial nature of state and local politics, but also that nobody really lives in a bubble. So we thought, let’s take an award show format, hence the Golden Probes, that’s a take up on the Golden Globes… and then let’s dig around and find sound bites from people holding office and running for reelection or running for office who have decided that the reason they’re doing it is because they literally want to end abortion in their states or end access to birth control or are just virulently anti LGBTQ people. So we take these sound bites and then we put them into these beautiful frameworks like they show best actor clip in the Oscars and then we come up with categories that are funny, like best original science, best adaptation of reality.
Then we have celebrities introducing them and then accepting on their behalf because shocker, none of them come to the award show and we feel like it’s a really good way to show people just how prevalent it is. Um, have a really fun time doing it. I’m damning them with faint praise in, in a said theoretical sort of way. It’s kind of like a Steven Colbert from the old show where to host an award show. That’s sort of the tone where we like celebrate, you know, we call it misogamy’s most glamorous night.
Lady Parts Justice doesn’t just produce fancy dress award ceremonies – this Summer they traveled the country on the “Vagical Mystery Tour” – performing comedy at local clubs and venues, raising money and awareness for clinics and activists on the ground. The stand-up is a gateway into getting information to the audience – an audience that wouldn’t normally show up to hear a clinic doctor speak, or a person speak about Trans issues.
At the same time what Lady Parts Justice will do is find people in the audience who want to get involved. And that doesn’t just mean marching or raising funds – it could mean clearing gutters. She asks the audience – what are you good at?
Lizz Winstead: What’s your organic thing that doesn’t exhaust you that you’re really good at? Is it accounting? Are you a baker or you know, anything that you do – I can say you do that for me in this way and you’re going to be making a difference. And when people hear that, they’re like, oh my God, I had no idea that like my landscaping company could go to a clinic in Arkansas and do their lawn because those people can’t hire anybody to come because they provide abortion and I’m not even sometimes talking about volunteering. The clinic in Arkansas wants to pay a landscaper. I will never forget I was in some city in the south and they needed their gutters cleaned. And the guy was like, are you telling me that my job of cleaning gutters, I can get paid and I have a new client and that’s activism. And I was like, YES, I’m saying that. And he’s like, ‘My mind is blown.’
The sad truth of reproductive rights in America is that while technically abortion is legal in the US – in many states it’s only technically. West Virginia, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Kentucky all only have one clinic. In states like Alaska women might need to fly to several hours to get help if they live in the remote villages and in Texas the drive can be hours. The people that work at clinics are under constant threat and, in Mississippi, have continual rounds of protesters either blocking the street (sometimes via police permit) or ‘just’ screaming horrible things at them.
Now, with the Supreme Court having a right wing majority after Kavanaugh’s appointment the threat posed on women’s reproductive rights have never been more immediate.
Lizz Winstead: There’s five states right now in the United States that have a trigger law in place. So if a case goes before the Supreme Court that overturns Roe v Wade, which is basically the trimester system, a legal abortion in the United States up to 24 weeks…. then states can decide what they want to do. Those [trigger] states will automatically ban abortion then it’s gone. And so what people need to look at is, making sure that you are getting rid of and replacing these legislative leaders who are trying to pass these draconian abortion laws on a state level because those laws are going to go through a court system that is right now being stacked as we’ve all seen the circuit courts and federal courts judges who are going to find these laws and get them to a Supreme Court that says maybe Roe v Wade isn’t the law of the land.
You can listen to the entire interview with Lizz Winstead here.
Full disclosure, Zach D. Roberts worked with Lizz Winstead and Lady Parts Justice in the past.