|Me telling jokes (not on the evening in question)|
Let me set the scene for you:
I was at an open mic that I've been to several times before. It's a great little basement space known for its supportive environment. There are seasoned comedians and some not-so-seasoned ones, and it's always a fairly full room.
On this night, however, the wind chill was 1 degree, and I myself had seriously debated coming. My Texas body cannot compute these freezing temperatures we've been having in NYC lately, plus I'd already taken off my bra at home, which is usually a sure sign that I'm over it for the day. But guys, I slapped that bra back on, cried as the wind assaulted my face, and set out to perform no matter what. When I got there, I was surprised, yet also not-so-surprised at all, to find that the room was just as packed as it usually is.
I should note that Daniel, my husband, came with me. He is important to the story. Consider his presence noted.
The host started the show, business as usual, and about five people went on before me. When I went up, I felt pretty unprepared, but excited to work through some newer material. I started my set, unsure of whether I even found my jokes funny, and while I was up there, I became distracted by a fantastic sound. At any other time, it would be one of my favorite sounds in the world, but at that precise moment, it was causing me to lose my train of thought.
If you've never heard my husband's laugh, you are really missing out on something special. When he finds something funny, suddenly everything is funny because his laugh is so loud, so distinct, so hysterical all on its own. It's one of the reasons I fell for him to be completely honest.
|HUH HUH HUH HUH HUH HUH HUH|
But on this particular night, it was throwing me off my game. He apparently found me absolutely hilarious (that, or he was just being a really supportive husband), and I was pretty sure the rest of the room did not. His laughter felt like the elephant in the room, even though it probably wasn't, so I stopped in the middle of my routine to let the crowd know that this man laughing wildly at my set was actually my husband. People liked this. Suddenly it all made sense. I proceeded, slightly out of sync, but thankful for the laughing jackal I had married.
Okay, the scene has been set. Here comes the icky...
I realized quickly after my set that I made two fatal flaws which would affect my evening: 1) I sat in very close proximity to the stage and 2) I told a room full of people that I was married. After sitting down uncomfortably close to my fellow comedians, I quickly became the target of a lot of their jokes -- jokes which all seemed to be on a similar theme: being married in your twenties is weird.
Throughout the night, I was called crazy and irresponsible. I was told that an impending divorce was inevitable. I was told that Daniel's fart-suppression would soon be coming to a close in the years to come (that one was actually pretty solid. Props for that joke). My least favorite moment came when one guy asked me, straight up, "Why did you decide to get married? Why?"
Suddenly, I was being called upon to do something that I feel women are far too frequently called upon to do -- justify a choice that needs no justification.
Whether asked directly or implicitly, women are constantly the target of questions like these:
Why did you get married?
How come you're still single?
Why do you work so much?
Why don't you have kids yet?
Why did you give up your career to stay at home with your children?
How could you possibly choose work over your children?
Why do you dress like that?
Why do you speak like that?
Why are you eating that?
My decision to get married at the age I did is something I've discussed a lot on this blog and elsewhere. I'm happy to report that I'm getting way better at just not caring what people think of it, but at the same time, I'm getting angrier for my fellow ladies.
I'm not just angry for the married ones, but the unmarried ones, the ones with no desire to marry, the ones who'd like to get married but haven't just yet, the ones with babies who also want to have jobs, the ones with babies who want to stay home and take great care of said babies, the ones who love Beyoncé, the ones who love Taylor Swift, the ones who are smart and capable of leading others, the ones who are smart and love being led, the ones who don't wear makeup, the ones who paint on their eyebrows every day, the ones who eat quinoa, and the ones who eat Burger King.
All of them. I'm annoyed on behalf of all of these women because plain and simply, there are a whole host of choices that these women should not need to justify, yet they are constantly called on to do so. From men and from other women, there is a constant feed of judgmental questioning. We put a lens up to their lives, and according to our set of standards, some are getting it right and some are getting it just oh-so wrong.
This open mic was a perfect example of the double standard I'm growing tired of. I mean, really -- A few seats from me sat a man who, for five straight minutes, spoke about his desire to have sex with his sister (REALLY. THIS HAPPENED). Despite his proximity to the stage, no one said a word to him. Me, on the other hand, I uttered one word ("husband") which indicated that I was married, and I was asked, by men and women alike, to explain myself -- to give an account for why on earth I would make such a deviant choice.
It's absurd, it's ridiculous, it's rude, and for the record, I'm totally guilty of doing the exact same thing. This experience has gotten me thinking recently about the women I so readily judge in my life. When I'm scrolling through Instagram -- the sea of engagement rings, selfies, babies, puppies, cats, decadent meals -- my brain instinctually makes judgements about these images, about the girl who took the picture, the girl who carefully decided on which filter to use, which caption to write, which hashtag to hashtag. It seems innocent, but these petty judgements are a part of this larger problem. I'm a culprit, and maybe you are too.
It's difficult because there are certainly times in life where someone's choice is objectionably bad -- a choice that hurts people, a choice that is largely unhealthy. Of course, in those moments, we should be bold enough and loving enough to call out the problem. That is something I believe.
And speaking of love, that's probably a better focus for us to have anyway, even in the comedy world (maybe even especially in the comedy world). We certainly should have beliefs about what is right and what is wrong. Absolutely, we should be people of conviction, but looking on people with love allows our hearts to have humility, and humility helps us to realize our narrow-mindedness. When we love people well, we're better able to see their motivations. Suddenly, it becomes much harder to label a decision as bad, even if it's one you wouldn't make yourself. Love helps us see a world beyond the one we were raised in, the culture that we are from, and instead prompts us to evaluate whether our discernment is pure or self-righteous.
So anyway, I'm going to focus on loving people better. I hope you'll join me. I think it might change the world or something.
And by the way, if you're wondering how I answered that guy's question -- to be honest, I didn't see his set as my platform to talk about judging women's choices. That's what I have a blog for. Instead, when he implored me to justify my decision to marry Daniel, I just said, "I mean, look at him."
|Because seriously, look at this guy.|
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Tell me in the comments-section!