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.