I Won't Apologize For Being A Feminist

I Won't Apologize For Being A Feminist

"Feminism is the radical notion that women are people." -Cheris Kramarae
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Currently, I'm on the struggle bus that is summer classes. One of the classes I'm taking is psychology, something that is inherently interesting to me (not to mention I need it for my major). My psychology class is one of those with the dreaded participation grade. I'm not generally good at participating in class, given my intense fear of speaking in front of others and being wrong, but there are always times that I find my professor bringing up something I can talk about confidently. The other day was one of those times.

In class, we had begun a discussion on gender stereotypes in society and psychology and how the two affect each other. My professor asked us why we thought that women and men were treated differently in society, and I knew it was my time to participate. I said something about the patriarchal society in which we live and how that affects how women are seen in most societal standards. That's not what bothered me, though. What bothered me was how I prefaced my statement - "This is gonna sound like such a feminist thing to say, and I'm sorry, but..."

Ever since I said it, I've been mentally kicking myself for doing so. I shouldn't be sorry for being a feminist or saying things that make me seem like one. I am a proud feminist, a firm believer in the equality of the sexes. And yet there I was, apologizing for not only having an opinion, but for the fact that it sounded like a feminist thing to say. That lead me to the question: Why am I apologizing for that statement?

I realize that there are a few reasons that may have lead me to preface my statement with an apology. First of all, I do have an issue with possibly being wrong when speaking out in class. It stems from my fear of speaking to strangers, to begin with. Second of all, the feminist movement has been looked down upon by so many people, that maybe I felt the need to apologize for even thinking of saying anything that sounded feminist in any way. I didn't want to be looked down upon or judged, so I apologized before I even finished my statement.

Therein lies the issue. People with feminist ideals or ideas that coincide with feminism in any way are looked down upon for even having these ideas, nonetheless speaking them aloud in some aspects of our society. But why is that? Why is it that we can have people who look down upon feminism and the deep rooted belief that all genders should be equal and that be completely okay but the second we have someone who has any sort of feminist ideals, they get judged? Is it the patriarchal society I mentioned in my answer in class? I'm not one thousand percent sure. I do know, however, that it doesn't help.

I'm not sorry for being a feminist and having feminist beliefs, and I'm really not sorry for speaking my mind regarding the matter. However, I have to learn not to apologize for having my own thoughts and opinions and for being a feminist. I don't need to be worried about what other people think of me. The only thing that should matter to me is that my beliefs are mine and that I don't alter my beliefs for anyone other than myself. Next time I want to participate in class and I have anything to say that may be related to feminism, I shouldn't apologize. I must be myself unapologetically, even in a world where it isn't always appreciated. Feminism isn't a bad word and being a feminist isn't something I should be ashamed of.

Cover Image Credit: Junia Project

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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