The Ladylike Project got mad, then gave back | Comedy | Chicago Reader

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The Ladylike Project got mad, then gave back

Activist Anne Haag's artistic collective raises money for local organizations through comedy showcases, yoga classes, and more.

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After this past election, activist Anne Haag was mad and didn't care who knew it. "I'm angry that there are people who think that banning Muslims and banning refugees is going to solve anything and not just make it worse, and angry that one in six women is going to be sexually assaulted in her lifetime [according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network] and angry that we still have to explain why 'all lives matter' is a problematic thing to say," Haag says. "I think there's always been a push for particularly women to express their anger in a way that is palatable for people, and I'm tired of that." She turned her anger into the Ladylike Project, a collective she created to connect artists who want to raise money for progressive causes—and she threw a big middle finger smack-dab in the center of an otherwise dainty logo to show that she's not pulling any punches.

Her mission isn't to incite rage—quite the opposite. Haag has helped organize comedy programs, yoga classes, and other lighthearted events during the past two months to benefit local organizations. Next the Ladylike Project is partnering with Pinwheel Records and burlesque performer Shirley Blazen to start a monthly stand-up showcase, Funny Grabs Back. The April performance will raise funds for GirlForward, a nonprofit that supports young refugee women.

"If you can organize a fund-raiser where you end up making somewhere in the ballpark of $500, that isn't a ton of money for an organization like Planned Parenthood," Haag says. "What I'm trying to do is zoom in a little bit and find groups where that can actually make a really big difference."

She's trying to get as specific as she can. The Ladylike Project's first event, Yoga Gives Back, was a fund-raiser for one woman, Twyana Bell, who teaches free yoga classes in Woodlawn to promote mental health. In the future Haag wants to look for single refugee families to support through concerts, food and drink events, and other creative gatherings.

But as of right now, Haag's the only one running the show. She hopes more people get involved—that way she can increase the number of projects and hopefully include more diverse voices and encourage intersectionality. The more artists who come together to put on uplifting fund-raisers, the longer postelection anger endures and can be turned into meaningful action.

"I think people care more than we think they do, they just tend to not know how to proceed in caring and where to direct that energy," Haag says. "I think if you can present people with opportunities that are fun, where they can feel like they're making a difference, I think that could be powerful and that could be sustained."  v

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