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{photo by Bruce Glikas}

2017 has been a real bitch, no? The events of this year, policies of this administration and treatment of women in Hollywood (and in this country) (and in the world) have left me depressed, outraged and generally feeling at a loss. So when my fiercely talented friend Laura Bell Bundy decided to actually do something about the current state of affairs and reached out to see if I wanted to help write for a benefit concert she was putting together called Double Standards to celebrate women and raise money for the organizations protecting, empowering and supporting women (Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and the Breast Cancer Coalition), I was all in. Laura Bell is one of the funniest, hardest working, most inspiring, supportive and loyal people I’ve ever known. She champions other women. She’s a living example of what can be accomplished when women in power help other women, and is an all-around badass boss bitch. So it’s no surprise she was able to get this powerhouse group of ladies together. The benefit was last week and InStyle posted an awesome recap of the event with some footage. You can also check out some great photos from the event on Laura Bell’s Instagram. I was fortunate to get to collaborate on her opening monologue, and she generously agreed to let me share our extended, uncut first draft here (more of a manifesto than monologue it’s so long, but if you attended the benefit you get to see all the thoughts and stats that got us fired up in the first place!) THANK YOU, LBB! So proud of and inspired by you.

Good evening, ladies and arm candy of ladies! Welcome to Double Standards at The Town Hall! Thank you so much for coming out tonight! Can you feel the energy in this room right now? It’s positively vibrating, it’s making me giddy! Man is it empowering, just so, so fulfilling, to be fighting for the rights… that men are just born with. Nothing makes you feel alive quite like marching, and hashtagging, and calling your representatives, and producing benefit concerts to fight for shit that’s just a given if you’re born with a dick. Right?!

But in all seriousness, this room is vibrating with the buzz of some very woke women and some very enlightened dudes. It’s giving me all the feels seeing you all here tonight. Thank you.

This evening’s show was born out of frustration. November 8, 2016 was the darkest of wake up calls for me on where we’re at right now as a country. I truly believed that there was no way a man who said those words, conducted himself the way that man did, could possibly get elected over a woman who is probably the most qualified, experienced candidate this country has ever seen. I mean, Cleopatra was a teenager who spoke 9 languages when she became the last Pharaoh of Egypt in 51 BC. Joan of Arc cut her hair, dressed in a man’s uniform, and led French troops to victory in the battle of Orleans in 1429. Catherine the Great modernized and westernized Russia in the 1700’s… But in the present day United States, Americans still can’t stomach the idea of a female president. An unqualified, misogynist, racist, homophobic reality TV star was at least better than a woman in charge! It makes me sick, it breaks my heart, and it has galvanized me. That is why this show is called Double Standards. That is why we are here.

I got so fucking sick and tired of sitting on Facebook after the election, watching our world fall apart. I went on an emotional journey, kind of like the 5 Stages of Grief that I like to call the 5 Stages Of Realizing Our Country Is So Misogynistic It Elected A Madman: Outrage, Depression, Binge Drinking, Unfriending Friends & Family Who Think Climate Change Is An “Alternative Fact” While Binge Drinking… And it was around the time I was reading about Harvey Weinstein making actresses watch him jack off into a houseplant in order to get a job that I reached the final stage: Action. I decided it was time to pry myself off social media and get out into the real world to make real change happen.

Because when women get pissed, we don’t throw misspelled hissy fits on Twitter – we get shit done. Sisters, we are doin’ it for ourselves. We have to. We can’t let these times crush us – these injustices must be a call to arms. We have to stay vigilant. We can’t get exhausted from what we’re seeing on TV and ignore it because it’s hard to watch. We need to continue to take a stand, support each other and these organizations that support us.

All of these fabulous, fierce women in your Playbill took time out of their busy lives, donated their talents and came out to make a difference with you here tonight. Because we women, we’re good multi-taskers. We are the strongest: We we give birth to babies, and we snag the corner office, and we hold it all down in Spanx. When our president grabs us by the pussy, we grab our rights by the balls! And we come together, to celebrate each other, the women who’ve come before us, and the women we have to create a better future for. We come together to fight for those rights: Our right to choose, our right to our own bodies, our right to love who we love, our right to health care, our right to equal pay, our right to safety and respect in the workplace, our right to equality.

And what a place to celebrate and fight! People, we are gathered tonight on hallowed ground. This theater, The Town Hall, was founded by a group of suffragists in 1921. Where you’re sitting is a sacred site for women. This gorgeous place was built to give people who didn’t have a voice a place to speak.

Margaret Sanger, avid supporter of women’s sexual rights and founder of the American Birth Control League, now known as Planned Parenthood, was arrested on this very stage during a public meeting on birth control.

In 1935, after being denied an operatic career because of discrimination against African-Americans, Marian Anderson made her New York debut at The Town Hall.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt appeared as Chairman on “America’s Town Meeting of the Air,” in an outreach to a wide variety of high schools and colleges.

And tonight, we’re gonna keep tradition and get angry, get loud, make our voices be heard!

We’re able to come together tonight, of our own volition and without permission slips from our husbands, thanks to the heroic women who came before us, fought for our rights, proved we’re equal against all odds, achieved so much despite the cards being stacked against them because of their gender.

  • Josephine Baker was a famous singer and dancer – and she was also a spy. She worked for the French Resistance undercover and smuggled military secrets into Portugal from France hidden in invisible ink on her sheet music.
  • Actress Hedy Lamarr was also an inventor of military importance, co-producing an anti-jamming device for torpedoes. She devised a clever way of “frequency hopping” that prevented the interception of American military messages.
  • Susan B. Anthony fought for women’s right to vote, against slavery (and also to limit the use of alcohol – hey, no one said women are perfect :)
  • Clara Barton treated injured Union soldiers on the battlefield during the Civil War, and later founded the Red Cross.
  • Elizabeth Blackwell was the first American woman awarded a medical degree by a college, despite being rejected by by all the major medical schools in the nation because of her sex. She later founded a women’s medical college to train other female physicians.
  • Marie Curie’s investigations led to the discovery of radioactivity as well as the element radium, and she was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.
  • Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, opening the skies to other women.
  • Harriet Tubman, an abolitionist born a slave, became a conductor on the Underground Railroad and led more than 300 slaves to freedom.

We’ve come a long way, but we have a ways to go still:

  • Nationally, women earn about 21% less than men for doing the same job. The pay gap disparities are even more alarming for minority women. African-American women earn 64 cents and Latina women earn 56 cents for every dollar earned by a Caucasian man.
  • 1 in 8 women in the US are diagnosed with breast cancer. Planned Parenthood conducts more than 320,000 breast exams in a single year.
  • 1 in 3 women have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.
  • In the U.S., women are 38% more likely to live in poverty than men, with especially high poverty rates for women of color.
  • Every 90 seconds, a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth. Most of these deaths are preventable, but due to gender-based discrimination many women are not given the proper education or care they need.
  • 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not yet considered a crime.
  • Women were refused credit cards without a husband’s approval until 1974.
  • In 1961, the Supreme Court denied that Florida’s state statute exempting women from jury duty was discriminatory, finding that women needed protection from the atmosphere of the courtroom and that it was reasonable to assume that women were needed in the home.
  • A woman (Sandra Day O’Connor) wasn’t appointed as a justice to the U.S. Supreme Court until 1981.
  • Kathryn Bigelow first woman to win an Oscar for Best Director… in 2010.
  • Joan of Arc had to fight on the field as a man!
  • Until the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978, women could be fired from their workplace for being pregnant.
  • Marital rape wasn’t made illegal in all 50 states until 1993.
  • Worldwide, women and girls over age of 15 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria.

THIS. This is why, and what, we’re fighting for.

As Susan B. Anthony famously pointed out, “It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens…” And yet, the Equal Rights Amendment, first introduced in 1923, did not pass the Congress until 1972 and still hasn’t been added to the Constitution. Yup, swallow that jagged little pill and let the absurdity sink in. I’m gonna repeat myself: The Constitution still hasn’t been updated with the basic principle that men and women are equal. 45 years after the ERA passed, and yet adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution is still on Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s To Do List, like the woman doesn’t already have enough shit going on with President Trump in office.

I mean, what?! Come on. No wonder it’s easy peasy to buy Viagra and a gun, but a woman’s right to choose, the basic human right to her own body, is constantly being challenged and threatened, and it’s next to impossible to find a high heeled shoe that doesn’t hurt like a mother fucker. It all makes so much more sense, knowing our Constitution still views us as lesser beings. People, it is time. It was time in 1972. It was time in 1923.  Can we please invent some comfy stilettos, and also, oh I dunno, make it as hard to buy a gun as it is to get an abortion? Oh, and maybe also finally get around to ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment so women are considered equal in the Constitution? Pretty please? Is that too much to ask? Sorry, do I sound bossy right now? I hope asking nicely and phrasing statements as wishy washy questions will make me seem like less of a bitch? ‘Cause God forbid wanting equal rights, basic human rights, makes me “unlikeable.” The worst thing you can be as a woman is unlikeable. Just look at that nasty woman and her emails! Unlikeable! Loser! Sad!

A mom who works outside the home is called a “working mom.” A mom who works as an unpaid intern/indentured servant to her children is called a “stay at home mom.” But a dad who works outside the home is called a “man.” And a dad who stays at home to raise the kids and do laundry and make dinner… He is the star of every woman’s fantasy. Mmmm. Excuse me while I go jack off into a house plant. {BEAT} No? You don’t like it when a woman talks about jacking off? Talk about double standards, people!

A guy who sleeps around is “sowing his oats.” A girl who sleeps around is a slut.

Breastfeeding in public is offensive and Freeing the Nipple to spread everything from body positivity to breast cancer awareness is pornographic – but you can’t walk down the street without seeing that Stuart Weitzman ad with all those naked models wearing nothing but shoes, or a Victoria’s Secret billboard with ta ta’s that are 5 stories high.

Assertive men are “leaders.” Assertive women are “bitches.”

Women are pushed anti-aging products, while aging male movie stars are voted Sexiest Man Alive (to his credit, George Clooney does get sexier every year. But so does Helen Mirren.)

When women are harassed or assaulted, people want to know what they were wearing, as if they were “asking for it” somehow. I like what Cate Blanchett recently said: “Women like looking sexy, but it doesn’t mean we want to fuck you. No one says to Steve Bannon, ‘You look like a bag of trash. Do you want me to throw you out?’”

And my personal favorite double standard, the concept of this evening: Two women singing a duet on a jazz standard.

To echo Nina Simone: “An artist’s duty is to reflect the times. As an artist, we have an obligation.” And I say: “When there are high stakes, the women of Broadway hit high notes.” Somehow, in 2017, the stakes could not be higher – so, I am thrilled and honored to introduce some badass boss Broadway bitches who can belt it out like nobody’s business…

Double Standards benefited Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and the Breast Cancer Coalition – if you’re so inclined, they need your dollars to help make this shitshow of a society we’re living in better! 

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