“Je suis désolé.”
“Es tut mir leid.”
I tend to apologize a lot for things I don’t need to. Sometimes it’s to keep the peace, but mostly it’s because I’m a ‘people-pleaser’ and feel guilty every time someone expresses the slightest bit of frustration with me. This has been my undoing so many times that I’ve come to think that the words, ‘I’m sorry’ should be banished from every language on the planet. I know I’m not alone in this. There are a few things, though, that I will never apologize for. In fact, I don’t think any woman should. The list is pretty long, but here are the five things that I feel are the most important.
1) Standing up for herself. I know several women who were raised not to show anger or frustration. Apparently they were supposed to ignore things that bothered them for the sake of being ‘ladylike’. Some of these women are from England, a society many people think would be ‘beyond’ this sort of thing. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the assumption of PMS, I’d be able to by the moon. Ditto being called a ‘bitch’. Comments like that say a lot more about the person making them than they do about us.
2) Not looking (or even wanting to look) like a supermodel. That’s the whole point of this magazine-celebrating those of us who have curves! Marilyn Monroe, a woman who is considered the bastion of beauty the world over, wore a size 12! If you’ve ever seen Mad Men, you’ve seen Christine Hendricks (http://www.stylehasnosize.com/tag/christina-hendricks/). I don’t know what size she wears, but it’s clear that she hasn’t missed many meals. Ditto Catherine Zeta-Jones, Adele, Queen Latifah…the list goes on. We’re gorgeous, and anyone who doesn’t appreciate that isn’t worth your time.
3) Choosing to work outside the home. Economics aside, (some people think a woman who does this is selfish, doesn’t love her kids or intentionally being obstinate-ignoring traditional gender roles just for the sake of doing it. Sure, this might be true for some people, but most have completely different reasons. My mother, for instance, felt a lot better about herself once she got her real estate license. Regardless of how much money she made, it got her out of the house and allowed her to meet more people. Tell me-if my mother were depressed because she wasn’t ‘allowed’ to do these things while we were in school, what good would that do us? If depression were to suck all of the energy out of her the way it does to me, would she have had any left to give us kids? No. Contrary to what some people think, working outside the home can actually make someone a better mother.
On the other hand…
4) Choosing to be a stay-at-home mom. I’ve heard such women criticized by some of the more strident feminists as ‘continuing the patriarchal society structure that kept women back’. I can see their point, but I couldn’t disagree more. Feminism, for me, is about choices.
The problem, as I see it, is that some of us have been told that we only have so many options when it comes to career and family life. Even if it’s not explicitly said, I’ve known women in male-dominated fields who have been made to feel as though they don’t ‘belong’. It is much better now than it was in my mother’s generation, but some societies and religious groups still hold to what they view as ‘proper’ gender roles. Feminism has, among other things, given us the ability to choose what we do and where we go in life rather than having someone else (fathers, husbands, etc) make those decisions for us. Some women want to be SAHMs (Stay-At-Home Moms), and there is nothing wrong with this. In fact, I admire them; I don’t know that I’d have the patience!
5) Wanting to be appreciated for what we do. While we don’t, to quote Jesus, ‘do our deeds in public to be praised (paraphrase!)’, it’s always nice to know our ‘good deeds’ do not go unnoticed. I’ve heard things like ‘you do this because that’s what you’re supposed to do-no one thanks a secretary for doing her job”. Um, I beg to differ. I’ve had employers do just that. They know that we’re the backbone; without us, their business couldn’t run. That makes me want to try that much harder to please them.
The point is that we, whatever roles we take in our lives, lay the foundation for the things that stand now and those which are to come. In raising a family, we are grooming our children to make a difference in the world. In being a wife or partner, we are giving another person the love and support they need to go about their daily life. In the professional world, we support our employers and colleagues. If we work outside the home, we help ‘bring home the bacon’ needed to do all of the things mentioned above. We are always going to be somebody’s mother, daughter, sister or friend. If you think about it, we really run the world. We let the men think that they do, but we know the truth.
We have been given the gift of strength and an indomitable spirit. That, my friends, should never be apologized for.