[view trailer] In 2011, women were doused with hate speech and horrible legislation with the same relentless intensity people use when hosing down two dogs humping.
That’s when I joined the front lines of this war on women.
I had been in my hometown of Minneapolis writing my book and had to get back to Brooklyn. I figured if I was already driving back to Brooklyn, why not do as many benefits for Planned Parenthood as I can along the way? My goal was to say, "Hey, Planned Parenthood, you’ve helped me so guess what? I am here for you.”
I immediately assembled an amazing team of people to help me on this journey: Maggie, an old friend who had years of experiencing booking rock bands, immediately got six cities on board; my photographer buddy Mindy Tucker, who took off work and joined us in Minneapolis; and my friend and badass Canadian Film Director Matt Gorman, who was there for protection, but also to film everything.
I was excited, but I was also scared of what these anti-choice psychos had become. Would they come after us? I was definitely glad to have Matt along. After all, I was about to become “the abortion lady.”
Over the next ten days I connected with people who needed a laugh as the world seemed to be running on the fumes of sanity. Each night after I concluded my act, I gave a reading from my manuscript, an essay about being 17 and pregnant.
I had no idea if the essay was even any good, much less if anybody would even care about what had happened to me all those years ago. The response was overwhelming. Women were approaching me to thank me. Women of all ages. Many of them had stories like mine, and they told me I had given them the courage to start sharing theirs as well.
I also learned a lot about how isolating it can be for the healthcare providers. They derive such joy helping patients, yet they work day in and day out being attacked by protesters at the clinics and politicians in their statehouses. They were so happy someone had come to make them laugh.
I saw too many doctors wearing bulletproof vests to these benefit shows.
In the end, this six-city tour evolved from a way to get back to Brooklyn into a way of life. I was happy, fulfilled and exhausted, but I also knew I could not keep going without some help. This issue needed voices.
And just like that, all that Facebooking and tweeting about the war on women paid off. Martha Plimpton called. We had become outrage BFFs on social media and were feeling the same things. While I was touring, she had been hatching a plan- she wanted to start an awareness-raising arm for the issue. I was all for it. I had started in my own way, but it needed to be bigger. Martha gathered some amazing women together and “A is For” was born.
Our goals? Here are a few:
• To be a one-stop hub for the latest news in the assault on women’s reproductive rights.
• To remind women that every day in America, someone powerful is working to remove access to safe, affordable healthcare for women. Yes, even in your state.
• To fight against the shame and stigma that for too long has been heaped upon women who have had an abortion.
And we are not ashamed to use the word abortion.
That is why we ask women to wear the “A.” It is a symbol that we will not be shamed or silenced when we see injustices done to women.
If theses zealots got their way and banned all legal abortions, privileged women would still have abortions and the rest of us, especially the very poor, would suffer. In unimaginable ways.
One of the things Smear Campaign shows are the stories of women who relied on Planned Parenthood for affordable pap smears, breast exams, birth control and abortions, allowing them to have the security that healthcare would always be an option, and thus ensuring them they would be the ones controlling their own destiny.
By donating to A Is For and watching this film, you are helping us making sure their stories will continue to be told. You will also be helping us keep you informed as we expose the people who are fighting against us at every turn.
I saw Elizabeth Warren speak recently and she said something that we all need to remember, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you are probably on the menu.”
At A Is For we are writing that menu to make sure women are never the main course.
I hope you enjoy the film.
Lizz Winstead (@lizzwinstead) is the co-creator and former head writer of The Daily Show and Air America. Most recently, Lizz wrote and produced an independent pilot of her Off-Broadway hit, Wake Up World, a show Rachel Maddow called, “The funniest thing I have seen in years.”