That Takes Ovaries mission, objectives & history

Mission statement: Because courage is contagious

Women in Blue

Based on the belief that courage is contagious and that all females and those who identify with female gender are born leaders, That Takes Ovaries (TTO) celebrates the gutsy, bold, courageous acts of women and girls, both locally and globally. Our women’s empowerment model combines the arts with activism to encourage women to be all-around strong, risk-taking females. Our TTO work is based on a best-selling book, a theatrical play and fun, inspiring, audience-participatory TTO open mike events (story-sharing sessions) which can serve as PR and/or fundraising events for worthy women and girls’ causes. Building on the success of our That Takes Ovaries events, our newest event offering is geared towards all genders and is titled “Leading a Bold Life: Recognizing the Risk-taker in All of Us.” TTO is based in Massachusetts, U.S.

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Objectives of That Takes Ovaries

That Takes Ovaries aims to:

  • Inspire the local event organizers and audience participants to celebrate being women and girls and identifying with female gender.
  • Motivate women to be bold risk-takers, and thus live more fulfilling, adventurous lives.
  • Encourage women to not accept limits imposed on them by a sexist society.
  • Empower women to continue taking risks in their lives and be invigorated to keep doing social justice and boundary-breaking work, both personally and politically.
  • Give women a place where their voices and experiences are heard and respected.
  • Develop women and girls’ leadership.
  • Foster grassroots activism among women and girls.
  • Guide women through the process of learning how to be organizers for women’s voices and causes.
  • Raise community awareness and funds for local and international women and girls’ causes.
  • With our Leading a Bold Life events, we celebrate multiculturalism and courage by showcasing the diversity in local communities and simultaneously encouraging participants to lead bold lives.

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History: The why and the how

The Why

I compiled the true stories in my book and play and started the That Takes Ovaries open mike events because courage is contagious and risk-taking is infectious. I wanted audiences and readers to see how “ordinary” women do gutsy things everyday, because I wanted audiences to think:



“Hey, if that woman can do something so outrageous, so courageous, then maybe so can I.”


I want to celebrate the fun, bold things women do because I want to encourage more women and girls to be risk takers. If women live more boldly, not only will they have more fulfilling, adventurous lives, but they will be more willing to take risks in standing up for themselves and others – as well as be more willing to challenge the sexism, classism, racism, ableism and homophobia we live with on a daily basis. The more risks women and girls take, the sooner they will be able to build the world they want to live in. So, be bold!


events-wheelchair-white-shirtThe How

How did the book, which started this whole That Takes Ovaries movement, come about? I had a party one night. The guests were more acquaintances than good friends. During the evening, a man told a story about a woman who had done a totally brazen thing (although now I can’t recall what). So I casually remarked, “Well, that took ovaries.” The roomful of people fell silent, and then they burst out laughing, exclaiming “Great phrase!” I was surprised. I’d used the saying often enough in the past, around my buddies, and gotten back only grins or “Amen to that.” This time, using the expression with the general public, I saw its power.


This phrase is great, I thought after my guests left. Not just fun and funny, it challenged the myth of the passive female – and that made it political. Even more, the phrase reflected a key  sentiment behind the latest rising wave of young feminists, that is, the attitude of playful brazenness in the push for gender equality.


Besides all of that, I concluded as I flossed before bed, “that takes ovaries” would make a great book title. By the time I climbed under the covers, I had decided to assemble a collection of ovarian acts where women and girls take charge, and maybe even have fun. I hoped my book-to-be could be a platform for girls’ vibrant voices and a celebration of womanly resilience. I envisioned a book that would excite women and men of all ages who want to see their sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and friends leading empowered lives; mothers and fathers who care about their daughters growing up self-assured and confident; and girls eager to be a part of the growing “girl power” movement. That Takes Ovaries would be for everyone interested in challenging a culture still wrought with inequality and double standards – everyone hungry for unabashedly powerful females.


ngo-nepal-girls-clapI began disseminating a Call for Stories. When the stories flowed in, they were so clearly dramatic that turning them into a play for the stage was a no-brainer. Bobbi Ausubel and I jumped into the fray, creating a few different versions and drafts, settling on one that can be used both in theaters and on college campuses. The TTO open mike events also made sense. We knew that more than the 64 women who contributed to the book had triumphant stories to tell. So wouldn’t it be exciting for the vibrant, feisty female voices in your community to be heard, too? Enter the That Takes Ovaries open mike events. Since 2002, over 800 have been held.