OnMilwaukee's The Future Is Female series is brought to you by Alverno College and features some of the most interesting, innovative and intelligent women in the city.
Megan McGee works passionately as the executive director of a storytelling organization, Ex Fabula, as a writer and performer in broadminded comedy and as a wife and mother to her 5-year-old daughter.
But given the chance, she'd temporarily ditch it all for a few of hours of early evening zealous dancing.
Recently, OnMilwaukee asked McGee the five "Future Is Female" questions and she responded with the following smart and thoughtful answers.
OnMilwaukee: What do you do professionally and how does this connect with who you are personally?
Megan McGee: I’m the Executive Director and one of the co-founders of Ex Fabula, a nonprofit that connects Milwaukee through real stories. I’m fascinated by culture – the unspoken rules and beliefs that groups have – and I love how stories can reveal rules and beliefs and create space for reflection and personal growth. I also love personal stories because I have a fairly anxious brain and listening to stories helps me feel less alone. To get real specific and vulnerable, if anyone out there has a family member with not-well-managed schizophrenia, please reach out because I would love to swap stories, especially if your family member is or has been incarcerated.
I’m also a white woman who is working to be more anti-racist, and my work with Ex Fabula also allows me to create brave spaces for important conversations about power, identity and oppression. I am inspired by adrienne maree brown’s concept of Pleasure Activism, and I like that Ex Fabula can feel like entertainment and has a social component.
When I’m not working on spreadsheets and trying to meet grant deadlines, I’m actually a pretty spirited person. I’ve written, directed and performed sketches with broadminded comedy since 2006, and I’m always looking for opportunities to incorporate more playfulness into life. My 5-year-old daughter fully supports that effort as well!
If you had a magic wand, what is one thing you would instantly change about Milwaukee?
This is so nerdy of me, but I’d change the shared revenue formula. Each year, Milwaukee gives the State of Wisconsin more tax revenue and gets less back, which makes it hard to provide all the necessary services and maintain the things that make Milwaukee great, like our amazing parks. Lots of our neighbors have experienced incredible trauma, so we really need to invest in them, or we’ll never truly thrive as a region.
How do you fight the patriarchy in your own way?
I was raised to be a feminist – and I’ve used my words and actions and encouraged others to do so as well. I became a soccer referee when I was 12, and I can remember players being surprised and not knowing if they should call me sir; I told them to call me Megan and emphasized that anyone can be a ref.
Then, in 2006 I joined forces with some other amazing women to form broadminded comedy. Some people want to put us in a box, but we always say our sketch comedy is “By Women. For Everyone.” I definitely see broadminded as a sort of Pleasure Activism as well, a way to playfully speak truth to power.
Now, I’m married to a great partner and amazing dad, John Bedalov. We’ve always talked about gender issues and representation and such, and I’ve always noted how men are also harmed by the patriarchy. So when Olivia was born, he wanted to take family leave, but a good part of it was unpaid. Luckily we were able to afford it, because it was a great experience for him and Olivia.
The awesome thing is that he told HR all the reasons they should make leave paid for all folks – not just birthing parents – and a year or so later, they did! Change isn’t always fast, but speaking up can be powerful, and it helps for us to encourage each other to do so.
If you made a soundtrack for your life, what would a few of the songs be?
- As Cool as I Am by Dar Williams: great storytelling plus feminist sentiment
- Freak Like Me by Santigold: screw conformity, be real!
- Sería Feliz by Julieta Venegas: about being happy now, in the present.
- Australia by the Shins: for the carpe diem message, plus this was my ring tone when I first had a phone that could be customized.
- Get Me Bodied by Beyonce: I miss pre-COVID dancing. I really need to host a dance party that starts at 5 p.m. so I can be in bed by 10.
- Brave by Sara Bareilles: which I have belted out to my daughter at home many times.
What is your secret (or not-so-secret) superpower?
I know very small amounts of many different languages! While on vacation in Morocco years back, I spoke eight different languages, not always well, but communication happened! I didn’t have much Arabic beyond the greeting “Salaam Alaikum” and “Shukran” (thank you), but even those few words often merited a smile.
Recommend someone for the "The Future Is Female" series by emailing email@example.com
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.