Not That You Asked: #YesAllWomen

There is nothing that I’m going to say that hasn’t been said already, but maybe it’ll reach someone’s eyes who hasn’t been following this UCSB killings and the #YesAllWomen hashtag.

I think I’ve known for a really long time that there was something inherently “less than” feeling about being a female.

The inequality was pervasive and yet, I had no idea how to combat it.

I was obsessed with the the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings so much so, I clipped articles from the newspaper and followed the story closely. I was only thirteen.

It took until a couple of years ago when I met Alicia Swiz that I started really thinking about feminism and what it meant to be a woman in this world. An educated and outspoken feminist, Alicia brought so many things to light that I had never thought of or could properly identify and articulate.

And so a floodgate was open.

I see the world through different eyes and I’m grateful for her knowledge and activism. She’s a huge reason why I wanted to create a female-centric live lit show.

But these eye opening moments have been painful and sometimes helpless feeling. All of these things that I’ve been reading about, things like women in the videogame, tech and music industries, have ALWAYS been an issue. It’s just that now more women are talking about it or their words are spreading further thanks to the Internet.

We are still being paid less for the same work. We are still expected to stay home and take care of the house and family. We are still being assaulted, raped and killed in staggering numbers, most often by men we know.

We are still objectified, sexualized and treated like lesser human beings.

I can’t believe I’m only now hearing other women talk about street harassment. You just start believing this is “how it is”. I walk outside wearing a dress and some guy is going to make a comment, or honk their horn or leer at me.

And there’s nothing I can do. You know why? Because I put myself at risk of escalating the situation. I put myself in harm’s way by sticking up for myself.

Every night when I walk home alone I’m aware that this could be the night something terrible happens to me.

This is not paranoia. This is reality. 

I will stand at the bus stop and hope the guy who’s approaching me is not going to try and talk to me. I will not make eye contact with the guy who’s walking in my direction. I will think about crossing the street if a group of men are on the same side of the street as me.

Sometimes I hold my breath when I pass men on the street hoping they will ignore me.

I should be able to walk outside naked and nothing should happen to me. But I’m willing to bet your response would be that I was calling attention to myself, that I was “asking for it”. And that’s the problem. Instead of telling perpetrators to stop, we tell women to not put ourselves in “questionable” situations. We’re not supposed to wear certain clothing, get too drunk or walk down alleys at night alone.


“That’s just not the world we live in.”


Men: We just want you to try and understand our truth. We aren’t accusing you of being the bad guy when we ask that you hear us out. And we’d really love for you to stick up for us. We’re not here to destroy you, we’re here to stand alongside you because we’re all humans just trying to make it in this world. Imagine leaving your house everyday and assessing the risk of being harassed or at worst, killed.

We need your empathy and support, because #YesAllWomen.



Chicagoist reviews debut show

From Miss Spoken Takes On A Challenging First Topic, Succeeds Wildly:

“Behind every woman is a complicated boob story. If you’ve ever survived a middle school locker room you know this to be true. But articulating the experience is no easy feat. You need to be candid, strong, vulnerable, and not afraid to challenge societal norms. You need to be able to reference Judy Blume. And you need to have a sense of humor about it. The powerhouse storytellers at the premiere of the Miss Spoken live lit series, met the challenge and soared way beyond.”



Thank you for the show.

More full recap to come with pictures and stuff, but we just wanted to give a giant thank you to:

Our readers. Your stories about boobs were funny, touching, and poignant.

Gallery Cabaret for providing us a great space.

Everyone who showed up. I hope you enjoyed it half as much as we did, and see you on 6/18 at Gallery Cabaret for next month’s theme: Debt. We’re doing this show a little early, but going forward we will be the last Wednesday of the month at Gallery Cabaret.


-Rose and Carly

Our Readers For TONIGHT’s Debut Show!



Samantha Irby recently published a collection of essays called “Meaty.”You can find her blog at


Alicia Swiz is a performer of stories, stand-up and feminist rants. She is a professor of Humanities at Harold Washington College and Features Editor at The Urbaness, an online lifestyle magazine for women in Chicago. She’ll be performing next at Snubfest June 8th @ Zanies – follow her @ PopGoesAlicia!

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Jasmine Davila has been oversharing on the internet since 2000. She has read for the likes of Solo in the 2nd City,Tuesday Funk, That’s All She Wrote, and 20×2. Please tweet all the cute corgi pictures to her at @jasmined.


Natasha Samreny is a stand-up comedian, writer and storyteller. She lives and works in Chicago and has performed with Write Club, Lifeline’s Fillet of Solo Storytelling Festival, Chicago Ladies in Comedy and recently Vocalo’s Music & Stories.  She has written and performed sketch and improv around the city and was once described as the woman who “told the story that ruined my love for peanut M&M’s”. That’s all right because that just means there are more for her.

hairpin profile

Originally from Cleveland, Melanie holds a PhD in social psychology and works as an education researcher at the University of Chicago. She writes occasionally for websites such as Hairpin and Thought Catalog. She also posts irregularly on her blog, and is trying to procrastinate less and write more. Her hobbies include emotional eating and flirting with college boys. She lives with her husband Dave, 2 mutts, and a foster turtle in Logan Square. You can follow her nonsense on twitter @rileycoyote.


Debut show tonight! And a preview of coming attractions.

And by coming attractions I mean about boobs. But let’s talk about our show happening tonight! Gallery Cabaret at 7pm, the following lovely and super-talented ladies will read about boobs – theirs, someone else’s, boobs in the general sense: Melanie LaForce Jasmine Davila Natasha Samreny Alicia Swiz Samantha Irby …along with your co-hosts, Carly Oishi and Rosamund Lannin, who’ll be opening and closing. There’s a preview of my story below, but really, you should just come out tonight. It’s free and it’s gonna be awesome and it’s about BOOBS, and did I mention it’s free?

Not That You Asked #3

Someone on Facebook posted a link about a band who while on tour, had their van stolen in Wicker Park. The window was smashed and inside the van was $25,000 worth of gear.

I decided to repost it to my wall because if that could somehow help them, why not? They came to my city and had their shit stolen and that is not cool on so many levels.

A handful of others did the same, as well as Kuma’s Corner, a beloved Chicago burger restaurant that I probably should not have to describe to you. Maybe heavy metal and tattoos aren’t your thing, but you will ignore all of that just to indulge in one of their creations. What you may not know is that Kuma’s is pretty awesome when it comes to raising money for causes, both local and national. So I wasn’t really surprised when I saw they had reposted the link.

I don’t know why, but I started reading the comments, one of which read: “Funny how precious gear is left unattended and uninsured. Insurance is relatively inexpensive and securing gear takes just a little effort and vigilance.”

Seriously, dude? That’s what you’d like to add to the conversation? You think that’s really helpful? You think you’re like, really astute?

When You Are In A Deep Depression

* Don’t worry. I have a supportive group of friends and family and already have therapy lined up.

Life is standing in the ocean where your feet don’t touch the bottom. There is a weight tied to your ankle and it prevents you from going anywhere. You don’t want to drown, per se, but swirling your arms in circles to keep afloat can be annoying and tiresome. Even if you could somehow cut the rope, you don’t know where you’d go or why you’d bother to swim. There is nothing in sight except for miles and miles of endless dark water, waves that push you to and fro.

Sleeping sounds like the only thing you want to do. But it also makes you feel kind of terrible and out of it. But you’re so tired. So damn tired. You have no energy and lying down is the only thing that makes sense.

Eating can be pleasurable. Sometimes not, though. You’d prefer to do it alone. You’d prefer to spend $25 on take-out so you don’t have to leave the house and no one is a witness to you hovering over a styrofoam container of something salty, fattening and horrible for you.

You don’t want to talk to anyone or see anyone. Except if you don’t interact with your friends, they will stop calling and maybe stop caring and then you’ll feel worse.

It’s hard to do things like shower or blow dry your hair. Because who cares? You certainly don’t. You are fat and ugly. But maybe you should put on make-up before seeing your boyfriend. He’s been so patient and understanding and if you lost him that just might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

You don’t give a shit about anything. All of the things you loved doing seem completely pointless. Things you should be really excited and happy about are rendered neutral, forgettable. Nice weather days make you feel especially guilty.

The crying for no reason is the worst part. Oh, well, I mean, there is a reason. It could be something happy or sad or totally inconsequential, but something is creating an emotional outburst you can barely contain. The tears and the sniveling come out of nowhere and you’re like a helpless baby, unable to convey exactly what is bothering you.

I’ve been on both sides of depression. Sometimes I’ve managed it with talk therapy. Other times medication. And I have stretches where I don’t feel like I need either. The most important thing is to seek help when things are particularly bad. Life should not be this bleak on a day to day basis. Ask for help. Take the help.

You can’t fight this battle alone.


Top 10 Sensory Details from My First Night in Chicago

  1. Scent of the ham and cheese sandwich and fries Mica got to go from Earwax Cafe. She ate them out of a styrofoam container on North Avenue just north of the North/Damen/Milwaukee intersection, sandwich in one hand while she hailed a cab with the other. I could tell the fries had seasoned salt on them, and wanted food even though I wasn’t hungry. Food memories are embarrassingly vivid.
  2. Worn, soft polyester-cotton blend maroon shirt I wore enough that the armpits were starting to get threadbare and the hem was stretched out. I kept wearing it anyway. It had a picture of an anime girl across the chest and I thought it was sooooo cool. I was stuck in 1999 fashion-wise, and to be fair 1999 was less than five years ago. Still.
  3. The hard inside of the cab thumping against my arm as we jolted along North to California to Fullerton, not that I knew any of those street names. I was really lost. I asked if the area we were going was okay, and Mica made a so-so hand motion. “It kind of varies block to block.” I nodded. Months later, I would blurt out something about Damen being really far west, to snorts and laughs. Geography is relative.
  4. The girl working the door, who was chubby with black curly hair, bangs, and a kid’s blue t-shirt with a rainbow and a star on it.
  5. World/Inferno Friendship Society, who was all ska-punk-soul crashing and horns. They were pretty great. I haven’t seen them since. At one point during the show, the lead singer danced with a girl in a red slip dress while the band played on.
  6. I can’t remember who else was with us. Her younger friend Mark? Our friend Sarah, who later moved to San Francisco? That’s not a sensory detail, but this is: the cigarette smoke that converged outside, about a foot away from the building, and the faint hint of smoke on the inside.
  7. The bathroom. Foul. The sensory details of this part of the night are best left unexplored. I peed quickly.
  8. Mica’s voice, high and slightly fast, talking about how some guy who ran some venue was a dick. He sounded like a dick. Mica was my college roommate for one year. She got me into a lot of shows.
  9. The scent of cheap beer I really wanted to drink. I was always too cowardly for a fake ID.
  10. Cool late summer night air as we walked along Fullerton. I feel like we walked all the way back to the Red Line but I can’t be sure.

“Wedding Day At Troldhaugen”

I played piano for eleven years, most of them begrudgingly.

I never practiced, and often showed up to my lessons unprepared, fumbling and sweating over the notes.

I’d practice extra hard the day after my lesson and then blow it off the rest of the six days. Rinse and repeat.

It was a shame too, since I had a really great teacher, who saw potential in me, but could hardly hide her disappointment in my lack of effort.

She entered me into contests and organized recitals.

I’d win a blue ribbon here and there. I’d get through a recital with only minor slips.

But I just didn’t see the point. I never cared all that much about the music or even about getting better. Until what turned out to be my very last recital.

Did you know we have a show happening soon?

It’s true! Just reminding you about our hopefully-glorious debut on Wednesday, 5/28 at Gallery Cabaret. Come on out and hear stories of all stripes about boobs, a topic the bartender at Gallery Cabaret assured us everyone loves. We hope he’s right.