[28 May 2002]
“What does ‘that takes ovaries’ mean? What does it mean to have ovaries? It means taking risks and taking charge. It means doing what you know is right, even if you have to walk through your fear to do it. It means being ambitious, being bold, taking no crap. We all have ovaries—we were born with them. This book is simply a few examples—a celebration!—of women who acted on their innate power and fearlessness. But these women are not so unusual, really, because every day women are doing just that. They are all around us. They are us.”
That Takes Ovaries! is a collection of stories from women all over the world - a collage of “bold women and their brazen acts.” The title comes from a phrase coined by Solomon at a dinner party with friends. Having heard a story of a gutsy female and her daring acts, and tired of hearing the words “that takes balls” in praise of masculine acts of bravery, Solomon came up with her own x-chromosome replacement. And thus, a book is born.
Through a grassroots-like effort enacted largely through email forwarding, Solomon requested submissions of ovary-filled stories from women everywhere. Solomon comments on the rapid growth of this project: “When I sent out the ‘call for stories’ to get submissions for the book, I sent it via email to about a dozen women. Well, it just took off from there. They sent it to their girlfriends who they thought had ovaries and good stories to tell, and then they sent it to their girlfriends and before long my call for stories became a popular email-forwarding item. I’d bet that in the end tens of thousands of women got it in their email in boxes and got to consider, at least for a moment, all the gutsy things they have ever done. And hopefully it encouraged them to be even more brazen in their lives.”
Encouraging women to be more brazen is definitely an aim of this book, one I believe it will accomplish whole-heartedly. One contributor, Kym Trippsmith, wrote a story about living on her houseboat and surviving a particularly destructive storm. She says of her That Takes Ovaries! experience: “In a word, it was empowering This book is a wellspring of information for women (and men) everywhere and I am honored to be a part of it.”
Empowerment is quite the prevalent theme in this book, apparently. Solomon has divided her anthology into sections dealing with issues such as making life-changing choices, taking charge of our bodies, risking life or limb, taking a stand against injustice, and recognizing the validity of women’s anger. One contributor to the last category, Kathleen Antonia, notes that “it is empowering, quite frankly, to be reminded that women don’t have to be ‘nice’ all the time (and forgiving and understanding) and to be reminded that when I personally am not so nice, that can actually be a good thing!” She adds: “Life takes ovaries! More women need to live.”
The contributors in this book are certainly living life, grabbing it by the ovaries and running with it as far as they can go. From hanging posters all over town to protest negative images of women in the media to coming face-to-face with wild gorillas, the stories in Solomon’s book are nothing if not diverse. They also happen to be witty, intelligent, and (of course) empowering. Even Rivka, the queen of ovaries herself, says that she started “holding [her]self to a higher standard” after writing this book. The stories included in its pages are so real, so encouraging, that every woman who reads them will undoubtedly do the same.
It is Solomon’s hope that this encouragement will hit the road in a series of open mikes she is organizing to promote the book. Instead of appearing herself in bookstores and women’s lunches, Solomon encourages fans of the book to host open mike nights, where women can come together to talk about the book and share their own brazen, ovary-empowered acts.
A good book speaks for itself, and this one is no different. Tara Betts, whose story Nothing from Nobody appears in the book, says that to her, “this book proves that our everyday stories are valuable and that famous and/or noteworthy women are not the only women with worthwhile stories to tell. These women can be in our families. They could be our friends. They could be the people who serve lunches, babysit, sit next to us in class or scream at us from the stage. That woman could be anyone, even you.” Indeed she could; but to find her, you may need an instruction manual and the courage to dig deep. Now that takes ovaries!
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/that-takes-ovaries/