Sexism in the entertainment industry is, as of today, an unfortunate fact of life. It is perhaps most salient, however, in comedy, a genre increasingly defined by irreverent female voices who take sexism head-on in their art.

While it’s starting to change (albeit at a glacial pace), comedy, particularly standup comedy, is still a tightly knit boys’ club. Breaking into the scene as a woman can feel like a fraternity hazing; it’s often a series of humiliations that go beyond a newbee bombing on stage. From their first open mic and well into their professional careers, female comedians face systemic sexism from audience members, bookers, agents, and of course, other male comedians.

Society has a real problem with women being funny and an even bigger problem with sexy or attractive women being funny. I’d venture to guess that it’s threatening in the way that a woman getting an education once was. Humor is a powerful social tool, and ever since women began to harness their comedic energies, there have always been individuals who seek to shame and insult them into giving up. It’s only in hearing their stories that we can begin to understand what it means to be a women in comedy, and understand how the industry and the public at large needs to extend the same respect to female comedians that they do their male counterparts.