I believe in feminism.
That being said, I believe in the true dictionary definition. That people across the world are advocating for women to have the same social, political, and all other rights as men.
I am a Midwesterner, I am a Northerner. I believe in dinner being a healthy home cooked meal, made by either my fiancé or myself. I believe in human rights for all people, across all spectrums. Also, to break stereotypes, I believe in shaving, and the power of a good haircut. I believe in feminism.
I believe in community. That people can unite across a front of a belief, and make actual social change. Not a social media influenced change, not something we all share on our individual pages (and pretend to be an activist), but change that will be spoken of in one hundred years.
I do not believe in saying the word “sorry” for the way that I am. I will apologize for creating conflict with my friends or family, for running into someone on the subway, aspects of life like that. I do not believe in apologizing for preferring jeans over dresses, I will not apologize for advocating what I believe, and I will not say sorry for my innate personality.
I especially will not expect female victims of violence to say sorry, or to take the blame for someone else’s actions because the person in power is male.
This brings up the recent development in the Ray and Janay Rice domestic violence, with his being cut from the Baltimore Ravens and the subsequent falling out on social media. Yesterday, the Ravens tweeted about how Janay had apologized for her part in the elevator violence. Today, Janay has taken to Instagram to vent about how she will stand by Ray and that she is outraged with the NFL/Ravens for what has happened to his career, apologizing again for her side of the situation.
Believe me, I fully understand that I am not a fly on the wall in the Rice household, and that there are plenty of mechanisms in this engine that I do not know about.
However, Janay made the situation public the minute she voiced an opinion from her personal Instagram account. Saying that the Ravens cut Ray in order to “just gain ratings” is entirely horrifying to me. I believe that Ray should have been cut back in February, when the first section of the video appeared (instead of the two game suspension he received). I do not believe violence against an intimate partner is ever reconcilable. However, we need to look into the cycle of abuse. Was Janay raised in a home where this type of behavior was normalized? Does she have support surrounding her, and what is their opinion of the situation? Does she have a safe place to seek counsel?
Janay taking this violence upon herself and saying sorry, is the largest offense to me that is symptomatic of a much larger problem. Victim blaming culture is alive and well, and it is the largest reason that women are held back from equality. Society conditions women want to do it all, and keep our personal lives in perfect balance. Society is quick to jump to conclusions after an attack on a woman happens, that she must have been wearing too tight of clothing, that she must have been asking for it.
Did Janay Rice ask to be knocked out cold in an elevator? Was that how she saw her night going? Did she ask to be dragged by her hair?
Why does society tell her that she has to take this blame on, and be sorry?
Women, stop apologizing. If someone treats you poorly, it is not your fault, and you do not need to please them to be a successful person. You do not need to give in to your own Ray Rice, or your own demons to live a full live. That is feminism, that women will demand equal respect in large or small ways that meet the needs of their life.