I was raised to be polite from a young age. At school, church, and sometimes home, I got the message that girls should be exceptionally quiet, meek, respectful, selfless, that we should follow the rules. This was also my idea of a being a “good Christian girl.” As I grew older, more messages were added. I should be submissive. I should “dress modestly,” so that men could control themselves around me. If I wasn’t considerate of men with my outfits, I would cause them to “sin” by thinking of me sexually.
I became apologetic for my body.
Sorry… for my body — another layer to making myself small — not “too much.”
I became apologetic for existing.
I was told over and over again to aspire to be a good wife. If I was too strong, too ambitious, too opinionated, too independent or too successful, it would be a threat to men.
It was okay to be confident, but not too confident.
Me… pretty? Well, that’s conceited — AND — causing men to lust.
I am no longer apologetic. I am not sorry for loving myself.
As an adult, I’ve matured, but the key messages in my community and around the world have not. The whispers, the unconscious and the deliberate messages to women are alike both inside and outside of the church.
I’ve found myself apologizing throughout my entire life. When someone bumped into me; if I coughed too loudly; when I wanted to ask for something — often, when I spoke in general.
I apologized for feelings. For being upset. For loving too hard.
I’ve allowed myself to be walked all over — letting people treat me badly because it was the “right” thing to do as a righteous woman.
I haven’t said “no” enough.
Heaven forbid anyone think that I was rude, difficult or demanding. Instead, shrinking — smaller is better.
I am done shrinking. I am done apologizing. I am done being quiet.
Women are not meant to be defined by men. Women are not responsible for men’s feelings of inferiority, lust, or belonging.
Any rhetoric that men cannot control themselves, so women should have to navigate it for them is dangerous.
I am proud of my body.
I am proud of my sexuality.
I validate myself.
I am self-worthy.
A bold, brave, opinionated, Christian woman.
I am everything I was always told not to be.
I am not sorry for existing.
I AM A WOMAN.