Many of us grew up in societies where genderedbehavior guidelines form part of our daily lives. We are taught to behave according to what is perceived as well-mannered—being nice, lowering our gaze, speaking only when asked to, adhering to differing dress codes—the list knows no end.
Most of the time, we are pressured and obligated to explain, and to justify or apologize. We apologize profusely for things that we have not done, that are not within our control or even for those that are not anybody’s business but our own. Sorry has become our favorite thing to say.
This notion of supposed amiability affects the way we feel about ourselves. It isn’t fair. It sets back our personal and professional growth. It hinders us to stand up for what we believe in. Unfortunately, it also presents a false identity of ourselves.
We need to stop exhausting our apologies, for our own sake.
1.Deciding for Your Body
Hailee Steinfeld got this right. It’s okay if you want to change the body that you came in. It’s okay if you want to keep the body that you came in. You don’t have to classify yourself as a pear, a rectangle, an inverted rectangle, hourglass or round. You can take inspiration from any kind of shape or even a fruit. Your body shape is your decision.
You can go sun bathing if you wish to get a tan. You can get treatments if you want to get a fairer skin. Your skin color is yours to decide.
You can wear whatever you want. You can wear a short or long dress. You can wear loose or tight pants. You can also choose to wear make-up or none at all. You can wear whatever you think fits right with you.
You do not have to apologize for looking your best, or even not looking your best all the time. You decide. It’s your body.
2.Choosing What to Prioritize
Prioritizing your career is not a crime. You can choose a degree that you believe will guide your career. You can even take additional classes to further develop and enhance your skills. You can strive for all your work goals to get the promotion you’ve always dreamed of.
Prioritizing your family is also not a crime. You can choose to stay at home to take care of your child (or children) full time. You can decide to take on a responsibility that will require your attention around the clock. You can even choose to be the head of the family.
You do not have to apologize if you choose your career over romantic relationships, or both. You do not have to apologize for making more money, earning just enough, or not being the sole breadwinner for the family. You do not have to apologize for your independence. Because whatever the case is, your decision should not restrict you to have meaningful life.
3.Dating (or Marrying) Whoever You Want
Nicholas Sparks got us teary eyed when he wrote, “Love is like the wind. You can’t see it, but you can feel it”. Relatedly, love can be whatever you want it to be. It can come in different forms. It can be shared with whomever you want it to be. Because love goes beyond age, gender, race, distance and belief.
4.To Be or Not to Be (in a Relationship)
Many people have a tendency to plan their lives and often it follows a linear pattern—school, work, marriage, babies. Any kind of deviation from society’s expectations consequentially means you screwed up. In some remote towns, it is even a cause for eventual banishment.
As we are well into the 21stcentury now, it is about time to stop feeling sorry if you are single, married, or divorced. You are not required to give any explanation or justification for your decision to have children or not, or even for your “it’s complicated” status on Facebook. Because your life path decisions are not open for public debate.
5. Asking for a Raise
Being a woman does not equal being less career-oriented, less hard working or less entitled to correct compensation for your hard work.
Asking for a raise is not being ill-mannered or immodest. It is not a presentation of being ungrateful or even arrogance. It is a logical and rational thing to do when you are in the workforce, whatever the nature of your job is. So, do not apologize if you ever ask for a raise.
6.Speaking Your Mind
Speaking your mind is not a sign of disrespect. You do not have to apologize for participating in discussions, sharing your opinions and arguments. It is an uncomplicated case of standing up for what you believe and saying it.
Whether you are at work, with your family, or hanging out with your friends never apologize for being the woman who has a voice and seat at the table.
7.Breastfeeding in Public
It is infuriating that the public views breasts as acceptable when being sexualized in prints and ads, but when women actually use them for what they are intended for—to feed their babies—everyone scrambles with their opinions. Whether or not women should be allowed to breastfeed in public should not even be considered as a societal issue. It should be accepted and tolerated. In fact, it should be normalized.
No woman should have to apologize for breastfeeding their babies. It’s natural for a mother to care for their babies. There’s nothing weird about it.
8.Keeping Your Last Name When You Get Married
Keeping your last name when you get married is your right, although it is not commonly practiced in the Philippines. It is not selfish. It does not even come close to that. It also does not determine the love you have for your husband, or his family (if that is even a factor to consider). It does not make you less married. Or less of a woman, as can be argued by a myopic school of thought.
You do not have to apologize to public or private agencies who make your transactions difficult because they can’t grasp why a married woman would choose not to carry her husband’s name. You do not even have to explain your decision.
Women—stop apologizing for your personal choices and decisions. Stop apologizing for being a woman. Stop explaining or justifying your own definition of womanhood.