I will not apologize

Something is happening with women. Something is shifting, changing, rising up within them. Women are looking a little longer at themselves and are liking what they see. They are recognizing a strength, a power, a life force deep within themselves and are using it to light a fire in their eyes. They are showing the world that they are women, they are beautiful, and they are valuable.

Well, the feminist fire within me is certainly lit, and I welcome the warmth.

From the Real Beauty Campaign, body positive photography, girl power songs from Alicia Keys and Katy Perry, the #yesallwomen movement, and most recently, the #ShineStrong Pantene commercial Not Sorry, women are getting the message: It’s time to stop bashing ourselves and others for what makes us women, to stop apologizing for our qualities and quirks, and to start loving ALL of ourselves. Basically, we are women hear us roar!

Here’s my roar:

I’m pretty sure I’ve been a feminist since before I knew that I lived in a man’s world. I was a girl who didn’t much care for gender stereotypes and how I was supposed to look, act, and talk (or not talk). However, as I grew up, I learned what being a woman in a man’s world meant, and I, as so many of us do, developed the apologies deeply rooted in shame simply for being born female.

Lately I’ve been wondering, how much of myself have I felt sorry and shame for? The answer is, too much. And I’m done apologizing for being a woman.

I will not apologize for wearing pink, blue, pants, skirts, or shirts that show too much or too little.

I will not apologize for wearing my hair long, short, up, down, straight, or curly.

I will not apologize for not putting makeup on my face to cover my flaws.

I will not apologize for the dark circles that appear under my eyes.

I will not apologize for my thin smile that decorates my eyes with little lines.

I will not apologize for having arm flab that waves back and thighs that rub.

I will not apologize for having hips and a butt that sway when I walk.

I will not apologize for having a swell in my belly and a bounce in my breasts.

I will not apologize for having rolls, dimples, or cellulite when I move my body.

I will not apologize for wearing clothes that show my figure.

I will not apologize for having skin that’s too white, too tan, or too something else.

I will not apologize for liking the way that I look.

I will not apologize for eating too much or too little.

I will not apologize for belching or farting.

I will not apologize for having hair under my arms or between my legs.

I will not apologize for being a sexual being.

I will not apologize for having sexual fantasies and sexual experiences.

I will not apologize for saying or writing the word sex, vulva, vagina, penis, or anything related to such words.

I will not apologize for sacrificing parts of my life to achieve my goals.

I will not apologize for being successful.

I will not apologize for being educated and intelligent.

I will not apologize for being too quiet or too loud.

I will not apologize for speaking my mind.

I will not apologize for having an opinion and sharing it.

I will not apologize for raising a hand and saying, “Let me finish” when you interrupt me.

I will not apologize for being honest.

I will not apologize for having thoughts, feelings, and needs.

I will not apologize for your reaction to my thoughts, feelings, and needs.

I will not apologize for being an emotional being.

I will not apologize for crying at home, at work, or in public.

I will not apologize for saying no.

I will not apologize for saying yes.

I will not apologize for having a career that fulfills me.

I will not apologize for not having children.

I will not apologize for being independent.

I will not apologize for needing someone to depend on now and then.

I will not apologize for having feminine and masculine traits.

I will not apologize for my power, my strength, and my worth.

I will not apologize for loving myself.

I will not apologize for not apologizing.

I will not apologize for being a woman.

I will not apologize.

I will not.

 

#YesAllWomen

Honest answers to unspoken questions. A beautiful read.

in transit

#YesAllWomen

Because all women have walked to their car in the dark, keys clutched tight in hand, one poking out between two fingers.

Because when I go out to bars or clubs, I have to think about whether what I’m wearing is too suggestive, instead of putting on whatever I please.

Because I feel the need to apologize when I’m not wearing makeup or my hair hasn’t been washed, or when I’m generally looking anything other than flawless.

Because there was nothing I could do about the man who touched me inappropriately in the middle of Gillette Stadium as I waited for my then-boyfriend to come out of the bathroom. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STADIUM.

Because there was also nothing I could do when a man touched me inappropriately in the middle of a crowded street, his arm around his girlfriend. Because retaliating in the way I wanted to…

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Guy, gal, both, or neither?

Yesterday, while perusing clothing stores in and around the Maine Mall, I noticed something. The diversity among the other shoppers was quite intriguing. The stores and sidewalks were busy, and among the customers and cashiers, I observed variety, everywhere. Variety in mood, skin color, style, sexual orientation, and gender expression, to name a few.

I think what struck me the most was the gender non-conformity, meaning people expressing themselves in ways that do not conform to the gender norms of male and female. After exiting the fitting rooms at a Target, I handed the “number of items” tag back to a strikingly beautiful person, of whose gender I couldn’t tell. What I could tell was this person had shiny skin, pearly white teeth, bright eyes, a cute hair flip cut which I could never pull off, and a friendly smile showing on hot pink lips. As I walked away, I had only one thought: Wow, what a beautiful person! I didn’t know if he was a he who identified as a she, or if he liked to wear make-up and nail polish, or if she was a she who dressed more like a he, or any other number of possibilities. Does it matter?

Yes. It matters, not because it’s mine or anyone else’s business which biological gender someone is. It matters because gender is not simply male or female. It is not binary, only two rigidly fixed options of masculine or feminine. If we hold the belief that men are only masculine and women are only feminine, it is because it’s been taught to us by someone else who holds that limited view of gender.

The reality is that gender is far more than the sex we are born as. Having a penis or a vagina does not determine what kind of man or woman we’ll become. Gender exists along a spectrum. Each of us is a mixed bag of masculine and feminine traits, and how we choose to express ourselves may show that, or not.

The gender non-conformity that I observed yesterday was a thing of beauty and bravery. I admired the few people I saw who expressed themselves along the spectrum and did so comfortably, in a society which is still very much “catching up” when it comes to learning about and accepting gender diversity.

To be different in an obvious way, such as wearing what you like despite what’s between your legs, is to put yourself out there, for judgment and possible ridicule. But there are also people who think you’re beautiful, just the way you are.

Gender spectrum

For more information on gender diversity and expression, please check out these websites:

The Gender Spectrum

 Gender Diversity

The Guardian: Mind Your Language

Trans Youth Equality