It wasn’t only International Women’s Day that prompted this. It could also have been the spam comment I got from “BoycottBitches.com” but I have just been thinking on the strong women in my life and how lucky I am. I have a weird, fun, sometimes stressful and financially unrewarding life that I wouldn’t trade for the literal control of the world. The only reason I have been able to achieve anything, set myself up for any success or sit in this coffee shop in Louisville waiting for my shows this weekend is because of the strong women in my life.
It is silly and unfortunate that I feel I have to wait until something prompts me to write a post of this nature. Although, I spend a lot of my energy writing jokes, making videos and producing a podcast that highlights the good parts of people and life, some times I feel like I should tone it back. That’s silly. I am so sick of hearing about everything we hate and how mean we are and how we kill each other. I want to talk about good stuff, lest we forget it exists. This is a series of short descriptions of the strong women in my life, how they changed me and to the men who helped create an environment for us to thrive. If you have women in your life like this, I hope you take the time to appreciate them and reflect on these things. If you do not have strong women in your life or you don’t respect them, I feel sorry for you and the personal development that you have deprived yourself of.
Mother Figures And Grandmothers
I am more than aware that I am blessed to have not only an amazing mother but 3 awesome grandmothers and various other women in my family that had me learning what it was like to be strong and independent since day one. People frequently ask me how I got the courage to start stand-up, quit my job, travel alone, move away from home, etc. The honest truth is it never crossed my mind that it was some kind of courageous moves. I wanted to be true to myself and I had people that always told me I could do whatever I wanted and supported me in doing so. So I did. Why was I able to do that? I watched women my whole life do things they weren’t “supposed to do.”
My grandma Shirley got a business degree back when we were barely allowed to talk and ran her own business in Idaho her whole life, while raising two daughters. She even kept the newspaper clipping from when a drunk customer “slugged her in the face.” How fucking bad ass is that?
My grandma Karen is the literal funniest person I have ever met and completely unintentionally. She worked as a hair stylist and dental hygienist while my grandfather was a school teacher. Raised two of the weirdest yet most respectful and caring men in the world. To this day she is ahead of the curve on social issues, supports me in my involvement in women’s rights issues and texts me the most hilarious supportive messages when I am at a women’s march or some other protest.
My grandma Barbara has the exceptional story of changing her life in the most impressive of ways. From working in Vegas to making the difficult decision of having her daughters live with their father to becoming a faith-driven, Texas living lady and loving mother. That’s strength and an admirable commitment to yourself and what makes you happy. She never gave up on her family or herself. She starting taking computer classes and GED courses at age 80.
My sweet Pam, if you have ever read any of my stuff, seen my stand-up or talked to me, you are aware I love my mother. The example she inadvertently set for me by moving away from rural Idaho -because she knew people weren’t being treated right there- becoming a boss lady in her field, surviving as a single mother and ultimately showing me to my face what it is like to continue to be productive and successful in your work field while having a great, healthy and equally supportive marriage. Well, it’s a lot to live up to but I like a challenge.
Basically, I have seen these women, right in front of me, my whole life do all these things, they weren’t supposed to, at times they weren’t supposed to and be so successful and great at it. With that in mind, the real question is, why wouldn’t I have made all these decisions when my whole life I haven’t just been told I can do anything, I have been shown.
Women In Work And Basketball
Basketball and the relationships I formed while playing saved my life over and over again. I got to be shown examples of strong young adult women, working hard, doing what they love and achieving goals, coaches teammates and fans alike. There is something about having the people you look up to you, affirm that you’re capable, that sticks with you forever.
I had a coach in college that would refer to getting shots up as “getting better.” “There was no court around so I couldn’t go get better” she once told me about playing overseas in Ireland. We were going to have an individual workout with a player who was going to training camp for a WNBA team and she said “how long are we going to work out for?” My coach responded “it depends on how much better you want to get” BOOM! That is so far stuck in my head that every time I am tired before a show or don’t want to work on writing or am afraid to send e-mails or network I just have this voice in my head saying “it just depends on how much better you want to get.”
People talk shit about all the things I do, so I am used to it. Women’s basketball is or isn’t this, women aren’t as funny… blah blah blah. It’s old, it’s played out, it’s unoriginal. I have literally spent so much of my life watching young women, from different backgrounds and countries, develop as strong, independent people that there is nothing you can say about what I do that can take any pride or love I have for it away. I have watched teammates graduate, get great jobs that give back to the community, own their own businesses, become bosses at huge companies, start beautiful families and get married to people they love that support them, all because we wanted to play a sport that boys were supposed to play. Basketball and the support system it formed for me got me through all of school, got me a degree and got me the mindset and non-com support I still have. I love all those women, their husbands and wives and their children for being so great. If you can’t acknowledge how great sport, STEM and art programs can be for a young woman, the program isn’t the problem, it’s the way you view us.
I have also been blessed with some female bosses that were a blaring example of believing in yourself, carrying yourself as a professional and performing at the level that you know you deserve to be at relentlessly until someone finally acknowledges it. People tell comics all the time to “be undeniable” but I learned that years ago from my lady bosses that just kept pushing until they could not be denied.
The Men That Support Women
You don’t have to call yourself a “male feminist” just fucking show up.
Also, you can just say feminist, if you want.
I am picky about the men in my life and how they treat women. The comics I associate with and the friends I have are guys that have shown that they treat women right. It’s easy to keep them around when they treat you right. My friends know I am strong, know I am capable and definitely pick me in the top 3 for any team sport game. They are extremely intelligent men that value a woman who is smart and independent, and good on my friends for cashing in on the noble move of being a kept man. I have always seen my parents marriage as equal, supportive and always pushing each other to be better in work, in life and golf/marathoning. My grandfathers were just as great about their wives being as strong and independent as they were. Which is a testament to the fact it’s not a “different time” it’s just human decency to treat women and minorities with the respect they deserve as humans.
I know that men are great allies, supporters and advocates for women because I see it everyday when they treat us with respect. The headliners that take me on the road as much as the guys, giving me that same chance. The bosses I had that saw my work for what it was and gave me promotions based on that and not who it was coming from. My friends that love, respect and treat their wives like the strong beautiful women they are. I delight in seeing men just be humans and treat us as such. There are few things more fun, more attractive or more hopeful then dudes treating ladies like humans. It’s pretty awesome.
All in all, stop worrying about the idea of what women’s rights means on a huge level, think about you mom and your daughter and niece and your sister and your grandmother and your best friend and they are being treated, how decisions effect them and how you are treating them. Reflect on their strength and their story and how it has made you a better person.
If none of these things are true for you, if you just minimize and marginalize women enough that this made you mad, I feel sorry for you. Sorry you clicked on this looking for something to be mad about, sorry if my praise of the women in my life has made you upset about your own. But if it does, please “boycott bitches” that would actually make this way easier.