Note: In honor of All* Above All’s United for Abortion Coverage Week of Action (September 25 – October 1), this is a guest blog from Feminist Majority Foundation Choices Campus Leadership Program student leader Jessie Lynch, who is majoring in Biology and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio.
I currently serve as Co-President of the University of Toledo Feminist Alliance (UTFA) and, like many student organizations, we often have to find the right balance between education and engagement. Let’s be real: nobody is really down for coming to a UTFA meeting to add one more lecture to their day. As such, there needs to be engagement—a sense of community and personal involvement—when we meet.Finding a way to accomplish all that while creating the context for the 40th Anniversary of the Hyde Amendment was especially important. So, how do we provide historical context for the effects of the Hyde Amendment and the endless abortion restrictions it paved the way for in an engaging way? I decided to create a life-sized board game in the vein of childhood favoite: Candy Land. Welcome to Hyde Land!
First, I want to be clear. Restrictions to abortion aren’t a game. The people who endure them are not plastic, fictional characters. And Henry Hyde was a real-life villain with malice and intent to oppress women in a way that is simply incomparable to Candy Land’s villain, Lord Licorice. But a tongue-in-cheek take on a simple, harmless game proved to be an engaging and interactive way to get folks involved. Hyde Land provided a platform to highlight the range of realities that people seeking abortion care in America can face.
Despite our lack of funding—the reality of many student organizations—we created a simple but colorful game for the event. We held the Hyde Land meeting in an academic room and used the chalkboard and balloons to designate the start and finish points. The “board game” spaces were made of neon poster paper, and we constructed the deck of cards by taping computer paper text onto smaller neon poster paper. While an immaculate construction of the game would have been stellar, the ability to assemble the physical game with low cost materials that are often just lying around made the game accessible for us (and for anyone who wants to recreate it in the future!).
The instructions were as follows:
The game cards consisted of abortion restrictions both personal and systemic, privileges that aid in accessing abortion, and proactive legislation that aids in creating a better environment for abortion access. Through this, we were able to talk about ridiculous barriers, such as TRAP laws, while engaging the entire group. We got to laugh and connect with our feminist community, while addressing America’s abortion restrictions head-on.
Ironically, the barriers we ran into while playing the game reflected the real-life barriers people trying to access abortion face. Basically, the problem with Hyde Land was that nobody could win. Barrier cards kept pushing people back or preventing them from moving toward the finish line. As far as road blocks in the game went, that’s one we could all appreciate, however begrudgingly. We did finally have a winner after tweaking some of the rules to avoid being in that classroom for the rest of the night. (If we had wanted to do that, we would’ve just made Hyde-opoly.)
For UTFA, Hyde Land served as a segue into our #BeBoldEndHyde event on campus for the Hyde Amendment’s 40th Anniversary, and set the context to be bold and enthusiastic in end our fight for abortion coverage and access for all people. Because that’s the plan—we’re going to repeal the Hyde Amendment and have a party while doing it.