No country for ignorant men
A night at the Golden Probe Awards viewing party
It’s not every day that you eat a cupcake topped with a golden uterus. It’s even more rare that you get to pose on a mock red carpet with intrauterine device sunglasses in one hand and a cardboard cutout of Missouri State Rep. Rick Brattin in the other. But that’s exactly what attendees looked forward to at the Gateway Women’s Access Fund’s viewing party of the Golden Probes, which took place last Sunday, Oct. 2.
The Golden Probes is far from your typical event. A satirical awards show developed by the pro-choice activist group Lady Parts Justice (LPJ), the annual fundraiser honors “outstanding achievement in the fields of sexism and antichoice extremism,” derisively celebrating the “brave” men in our government who have fervidly advanced sexist, homophobic and antichoice rhetoric in recent years.
The name “Lady Parts Justice” itself was born out of an instance of outrageous sexism. In 2012, Michigan State Rep. Lisa Brown was banned from her statehouse floor for using the word “vagina”—while arguing against a bill mandating transvaginal ultrasounds. When she asked what she should have said, they suggested “something less provocative, like ‘lady parts.’” Unsurprisingly, this sound bite took hold, galvanizing feminists nationwide.
Founded and governed by a troupe of comics, activists and writers, Lady Parts Justice League describes itself as “the first [Not-Safe-For-Work], rapid-response reproductive rights messaging hub” that uses comedy to draw attention to similar slights against women’s health perpetuated by hyper conservative legislators.
The group certainly delivered. With appearances from high-profile feminist comedians, such as Sarah Silverman, Samantha Bee and Jessica Williams, the two-hour ceremony spun horrific legislation into comedic gold. Notable awards included “Best Acting Like You Care About Women in a Non-Supportive Role,” “Best Original Science,” and the crowd favorite “Outstanding Writing in Sharpie, Hobby Lobby Supplies and/or Microsoft Paint.” Nominees ranged from attorney generals to congressional candidates to America’s very own vice presidential nominee Mike Pence—who was narrowly outshined for “Outstanding Underperformance by a Politician in a Leading Role.”
“Humor is powerful,” Maia Elkana, co-founder of the Gateway Women’s Access Fund (GWAF), said. The organization hosted the St. Louis watch party at the Center of Creative Arts.
“I want this event to energize current reproductive health advocates and to inspire folks who are pro-choice but maybe never really thought about it,” she said.
Attendees speculated on potential winners between live-streamed sections of the New York City event, while sipping on “Consensual Sex on the Beach” and “Old Fashioned But Pro-Choice,” and sampling uterus and penis-topped cupcakes from St. Louis’s Sweetology.
To no one’s surprise, Missouri earned two Golden Probe nominations of its own. Imposing an onerous 72-hour waiting period on women seeking an abortion and attempting to jail Planned Parenthood CEO Mary Kogut for refusing to violate patient confidentiality put it in the running for the biggest award of the night: “Legislature of the Year.” State Rep. Rick Brattin earned his own place in the “Best Performance in An Unscripted Digital Short” division, by filing a bill that would require women seeking an abortion to obtain notarized written consent from the man who impregnated her and claiming that he would permit an exception for “legitimate rape,” a la former U.S. Rep Todd Akin.
And while the room resonated with laughs and lighthearted humor, the watch party drew activists from across the state to speak about the true impact of Missouri’s abortion restrictions. During breaks in the show, representatives from Missouri abortion providers detailed the hardships that this legislation has imposed on their patients. These hardships make it exceedingly difficult—and, in some cases, impossible—for the 1,200,000 Missouri women of reproductive age to receive abortion services.
“Missouri has some of the most restrictive abortion regulations of any state in the country,” Elkana said. “Folks have to receive counseling in-person, three days in advance of their procedure, which means that a woman living anywhere in the state needs to drive to St. Louis for an appointment.”
Yet by the time the curtain closed on the Golden Probes, Missouri was 0-2. Despite a phenomenal effort from both Rick Brattin and the legislature he represents, it was Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine who stole the show, with his claim that Planned Parenthood “steam cooked” fetuses. A close runner-up was radio host Bryan Fischer’s declaration that women aren’t fit to be president.
But fear not, Missouri legislators. As evidenced by the thousands of activists who attended satellite watch parties, their work did not go unnoticed. And in the words of Golden Probes emcee Jean Grae, “There are no small parts. Only small minds.”