Get a kick out of swiping left when that scummy someone pops up on Tinder? Well, the founders of Lady Parts Justice have just upped the fun- and scum-factor with Hinder, a parody of the dating app that, in its own colorful words, “helps you keep track of all the unhinged anti-abortion zealots right in the palm of your hand!”
Hinder allows you to find the politicians in your area who want to take away reproductive rights—and then relish in rejecting them. So Mike Gonidakis, President of Ohio Right to Life, wants to shut down the government to defund Planned Parenthood? Swipe left! Texas Rep. Steve Stockman (R) actually used the phrase “if babies had guns, they wouldn’t be aborted” on his campaign bumper stickers? Swipe left!
The app, which launched earlier this month, has arrived in the midst of some of the gravest attacks on reproductive rights in a long time. Efforts to defund Planned Parenthood appear to be stronger than ever and threats from Republicans to shut down the government if they don’t get their way are, while not new, still threatening.
The Ms. Blog recently spoke with Lizz Winstead, co-founder of Lady Parts Justice and co-creator and former head writer of The Daily Show, about her fight for reproductive freedom, how to inspire a young generation of voters and, of course, the new and delightfully witty Hinder.
How did you get involved in the fight for reproductive justice?
I think it probably started with my own personal experience of finding myself pregnant at 16 and finding that it wasn’t anything I was ready for, let alone interested in as a life choice, period. I was trying to battle being brought up Catholic, not knowing where to go for help, and having had limited sex education, didn’t really know what to do. I ended up at a crisis pregnancy center that was horrible, at best. I saw firsthand how they tried to make me feel like I was other, to stigmatize me. The shaming was so great that when I finally found myself in a place where I could finally have an abortion I knew couldn’t sit idly by because it had changed my life for the better to be able to say that I get to decide how my life is going to go. When the assault on Planned Parenthood started back up again in 2011 and the government tried to defund it and all of those laws were being passed all over the country, I really couldn’t sit idly by anymore. I decided to insert myself into the fight by using humor and rallied my friends who are actors, comedians and musicians who have benefited from these services. We can’t allow that the people who provide the care have to advocate for themselves, too, and so I started Lady Parts Justice.
I’m trying to reach young people and people who are pro-choice but who haven’t been advocates of the cause because they didn’t quite understand the profundity of what’s happening. When you have an app in your hand and you can see how many people are devoting time to making sure that women don’t get access to the care they need, who don’t think women should be having sex, and who shame women, it’s hard to ignore—especially for people who like to use Tinder and who do like to hook up. People are living their lives who are oblivious to the state of reproductive access and health care in our country. For them to know that there are people working against them is very important. So I’m trying to get people who are on the fence or who are disengaged to get involved.
Why do you think satire is such an effective way to get people to pay attention to issues that they otherwise might not?
I think that a lot of times using humor is an ice breaker, because when you make someone laugh you literally set off chemicals in the body that bring joy. That’s a good thing right off the bat; you want to be around joy. I think when you use someone’s own words it’s fun to say what part of it isn’t true, and I think that giving people laughter and really bringing joy into their lives means that, on some level, you like that person and might be more amenable to what they say. People lead busy, crazy lives. ‘Aint nobody got time for a lecture. So if the vehicle you can distribute your information in is enjoyable and something you can go back to, you kind of have a winning combination where people will keep coming back. As long as you’re accurate and safe, people will create space in their lives to prioritize this and start making it better.
Initially the folks at Apple rejected the app. Why do you think they changed their minds?
Probably because UltraViolet started a petition defending us and got 30,000 people to sign [it]. The outrage was that iTunes showed zero due diligence despite their own clause that says you can take on the government and be offensive as long as you are a professional satirist or comedian. So the fact that they didn’t do any research, that they didn’t realize that this is what I do, made it seem like they just decided that feminists aren’t funny and why would this be a funny app if it’s about women’s issues. Does it not occur to people that there are a shit-ton of feminist comedians who are incorporating issues into their acts, two of which are the most famous in the country, Amy Schumer and Sarah Silverman?
The app just launched this month. How do you see it evolving and what change do you hope it affects?
I hope that for people who are not particularly political but care about these kinds of issues will see that there’s a Tinder parody and be like “Oh my god this is real!” I hope that people who are always looking for ways to blend humor into how they feel about social issues will use it to share with others, and that it becomes a rallying cry for other people to take this issue on. Maybe it will just get people to decide every once in a while to make sure we’re part of the solution: maybe we’ll call our local clinic to see how we can be supportive; maybe we’ll get out to vote; maybe we’ll adopt a politician to educate and become an advocate for these issues. Whatever it is, I hope it encourages people to incorporate working on this issue into their social lives. Part of our goal at Lady Parts Justice is to drop information on these issues into popular culture.
Photo courtesy Lady Parts Justice