Apple rejects satirical app that exposes politicians who are against repro rights

Comedian Lizz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show and vocal reproductive rights advocate, recently created Hinder, a satirical app that shows you which politicians are trying to limit access to birth control, abortion, and sex education in your state. You can download the app here. But as The Huffington Post reports, you won’t be able to find it in the iTunes store.

Apple rejected it earlier this month, telling Winstead’s team the app’s content violates Rule 14 of its app review guidelines, which bans “any App that is defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited, or likely to place the targeted individual or group in harm’s way.” Apple recently yanked games from iTunes that included images of the Confederate flag.

But the same rule Apple cited in rejecting the app also states that “professional political satirists and humorists are exempt from the ban on offensive or mean-spirited commentary.” As the creator of “The Daily Show,” one of the most well-known political satire shows on television, Winstead assumed she would fit squarely into that category.

Even aside from the exemption for satire, I fail to see how Hinder is “defamatory, offensive, or mean-spirited.” While calling lawmakers “anti-choice douchebags” and “craptastic extremists” may not be exactly polite, Winstead points out that the information the app provides is entirely factual — and thus, by definition, can’t be defamatory. And the only harm likely to come from it is that — fingers crossed — these lawmakers may not get re-elected.

This isn’t the first time Apple’s app decisions have seemed more than a little sexist. This spring, a year after it first released its extensive HealthKit app that lets you “see your whole health picture,” Apple finally remembered that half the population menstruates and added a period tracker. Meanwhile, a couple years ago, it deemed a masturbation app geared toward women featuring an adorble cartoon vulva too “pornographic” and “crude,” even though it allows countless apps that sexually objectify women for male pleasure.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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