Aida Rodriguez advanced to the semifinals of the eighth season of Last Comic Standing. Rodriguez already knew that because “The Invitationals” rounds of audition showcases taped months ago. But after millions of you watched on May 22 and again the following Wednesday when NBC rebroadcast it, Rodriguez felt she needed to respond.

She didn’t tag her essay #YesAllWomen, but I don’t know of any male comedians facing the same sorts of criticisms online or in person about their wardrobe or their looks. It’s a double standard. She addresses that and her choice of material, too.

This essay initially appeared on her own blog on May 30, and is republished here in full with Rodriguez’s permission:

First of all, let me say that I am truly humbled and so grateful for all of the support that I have received for the last couple of weeks. I tell you that it means the world to know that people see you, in a place where you feel like no one knows what the hell you are talking about.  I haven’t blogged in while because real life has been happening and I have been struggling to keep my head above water just to make it another day.  Not what you expect to hear from someone who is on “National Network Television,” as they keep saying.

But hey, listen I am here for that very purpose, I want to be that real person that has real-life issues and can be the voice of the everyday person that isn’t walking around with a fancy handbag and attending the spa three times a week.  I would love to do that but the reality is that I have to feed my kids, support my mother in any way that I can and be something to someone other than a Tweet or a clever blog post.

I am going to address a few things that I have been reeling from and dealing with for the last few days, I think that some of you comedy bloggers, experts and representatives have it a little twisted when it comes to me.

And anyone that knows me, knows that I will NOT be bullied so I am going to give it to you straight.

I don’t profess this to be law or popular belief, just my point of view.

I read that I wasn’t worthy of being a semifinalist because I’ve opened for Russell Peters and I used my looks.

Honestly, you guys know nothing about Russell Peters when you dare to say this. In that top 100, there are several comedians that have opened for Russell because he has never forgotten what it feels like to be us.  So get your facts straight because in that list of semifinalists there are a few who have had the opportunity to open for Russell, that doesn’t make us special.  The comedy community is small and connected, where are you going to find three people in the comedy game that don’t know other comedians? Where??

And as far as the looks thing, really??? First of all, thank you, when I went to Asia, I gotta tell you that they didn’t make me feel so pretty, it’s all so subjective. Still, I don’t recall anyone ever telling Eddie Murphy to tone it down when he wore those tight ass leather Purple and Red suits for his comedy specials, nobody has ever told Dane Cook not to be sexy.  What gets me is this, we women can’t win for losing!!!  I have been told that I would never make it because I am not overweight, I am not Black, I don’t do jokes about fellatio and anal sex, I’m too old, I am not a man, I am not white, I am too in your face, I am not likable, I am too tall for television, I’m not thin enough (gimme a sec, I’m going through my journal) I have kids and I talk about having kids, I’m not Mexican and the list goes on. Some of those don’t even make sense do they, but they do in the minds of many and that is why people like me have to fight to keep our sanity and individuality in this game.

So instead of having to live a medicated life and allow others to push me into a spiral that will lead me the furthest away from who I truly am, I made a brave decision a few years ago to just be myself and I’m sorry if that doesn’t make you moist.

I will secretly hope that at some point I can count on my fellow ladies to embrace solidarity and do what many groups do and just work through our issues but ultimately together for our own causes…yeah, that would be nice.

“Aida Rodriguez sucks, I can’t believe she made it to the semifinals.  I don’t get her comedy at all.”

That is absolutely fine that you don’t get my comedy, I have chosen a more difficult path in comedy, I know this.  One, I’m a grown up — not your typical early-20s white male comedian talking about topics that trend on Twitter and clever jokes about having sex with cats that have Cancer.  I get it, I’m not what you are used to seeing but my comedy will not change because it is based on my life and I’m sorry that this is so passe to you.  Comedy is many things to many people and there are many voices out there, you choose what you like and subscribe to that.  BUT WHAT YOU WON’T DO is set the standard for everyone and discredit those that are different from you, for being different than you.  I am so tired of this “cool kids for not being cool kids” bullshit trying to push everyone out who is not doing what they like.  Would you prefer I did jokes about Stephen Hawking, coffee shops and having sex with cats with Cancer? <—This makes me laugh.   Sometimes you cerebral buffs and intellectual bullies sound like that which you allegedly despise: bigots.

The Yellow Dress!

Some people actually believe that I woke up one morning and thought that I would pick out the perfect dress that would equip me to out-do some of the best comedians in the world with my legs!  I wore the yellow because my grandmother loved yellow and sunflowers, I lost her in August to Cancer.  If you zoom in on the top left of the dress you will also see my uncle’s deacon pin, I lost him in October to a hate crime.  What I took with me on that stage that night was an incredible amount of pain and sorrow that I was ONLY able to work through with the thing I love to do most in this world.  I will leave it at that.

Truth is, I grew up not having the most privileged life, but I’ve never used that as an excuse to attack those who had an easier road than I did.  Nor will I ever diminish someone else’s pain because it didn’t happen in the ghetto.

The “funny” that I respond to, deal in and operate with comes from pain, where I grew up that is how we kept from crying all of the time, getting beat up and sometimes thinking about the jumping off the building you hated to live in.

“I can’t believe you did that show!”  – One of the most famous and one of my favorite comedians in the game right now.

I love the commentary from the “hardcore comedians” out there that have judged and chastised me for doing a reality show.  Where else am I going to have the opportunity and exposure to create an awareness about myself and my brand of humor???  Enough said, I don’t have to explain, justify or qualify a thing.  Check out the line-ups at your comedy club and count the women, let me know what you come up with.

Truth is, I have a great time doing something that I’ve always wanted to do, I honestly do it because I really love it.  I study, I work hard and I truly respect the Art and Science of Comedy.

Truth is, I don’t expect everyone to drink the “Aida Kool-Aid,” drink water instead.

Truth is, I’m not going anywhere because this is what I was sent here to do, deal with it.

Oh, and one more thing.  I love dresses, heels, make up and hair do’s.  I’m going to keep wearing them and honoring who I am.  I don’t get to dress up for track meets, debate tourneys and school plays … I dress up for work!

Truth is, I’m truth in a dress, deal with that, too!

This essay originally appeared as Last Comic Standing: Love, Judgement and Sexism! By Aida Rodriguez.