The world is abuzz with the latest Amy Schumer skit that skewers the fact that we live in a world where women are constantly apologizing for, well, fucking everything. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Nobel winner, a brain surgeon, a rocket scientist, a world leader—if you are toting a set of ovaries, odds are you will find yourself moving through life simply apologizing for existing. I haven’t seen the skit yet, but I do know that Amy has been fucking killing it, man. She has spent this season targeting some serious sacred cows and not being the least goddamn bit sorry for it either.
A woman after my own heart.
This has been a long-running theme in my life. I have opinions. A lot of them. And boy howdy, do I have a mouth on me. And lord help me, I was raised by two college professors, so I’m one articulate motherfucker too. (Though, as my mother often bemoans: “All that money we spent on your education…I just wish you could express yourself with fewer four-letter words.” What can I say, Mom? Those fuckers in Hell want ice water too. Sometimes to get to the heart of a juicy idea, you gotta drop a few F-bombs.)
Growing up, my mom was the primary breadwinner in our family. She was a night ER nurse at the time, and my dad was working on his Ph.D. This meant during my formative years, I was raised mostly by a man. This was during the ’70s when there weren’t a lot of men out there doing the child-rearing. So in addition to learning how to throw a perfect spiral pass and sink a sweet jump shot from the baseline, my dad instilled in me a sense of fearlessness when it came to speaking my mind. Maybe fearlessness is the wrong word, but he certainly taught me to stand behind my convictions, not to back down, and never to be afraid to call bullshit when I saw it, even if the source of the bullshit was masculine. For example, when my Little League baseball team went on our camping trip in the third grade (because of course, my dad wouldn’t let me play softball with the girls—I had to play baseball), and the boys on the team wanted me to pull down my shorts and show them my pee-pee, I firmly crossed my arms and insisted, nope, not until ALL of them pulled down their shorts and showed me their pee-pees first. I’m still convinced I came out on top in that deal.
This led to me growing up being a tomboy, naturally, but it also taught me to stand my ground—in the classroom, on the playground, in a gym, in a lecture hall, and eventually in the workplace. I never identified it as not apologizing for my words or actions per se; I just didn’t move through my life as a second-class citizen or see myself as lesser in any way to the men around me. It never occurred to me that it was even an option. It never occurred to me that men would see me that way either. And I grew up in Texas! This is perhaps one of my father’s greatest legacies. We had a conversation once, in one of his many hospital beds, and I was able to tell him what an incredible father and role model he’d been to me, and I said “You taught me that I could do anything just as well as boys could.” He smiled his wan smile and rasped “Well I hoped I taught you that you could do it better.”
The end result is that I’ve never felt muzzled, even when I’d see people chafe at my brashness, my profanity, or my opinions. I have a saying: “I’m not for everyone.” And honestly, that doesn’t bother me one fucking whit. I don’t like everyone I meet in the world; why should I expect everyone to like me? And if they don’t, fuck ’em. There are plenty of people out there who do, and THOSE are the people I hang out with. Jesus, it’s not rocket science. Why waste your precious time on this planet trying to get people who clearly don’t like you to come around? Move on and spend time with the people who dig your gig. Don’t waste your breath apologizing for how you’re moving through the world, the things you’re saying, the thoughts you’re having, or the way you feel—seek out the people who respect those ideas and who cherish you for how you carry yourself.
Look, I’m not a social scientist. I’m not here to analyze when girls start to learn we “have” to tone ourselves down for society’s standards, and when we start muzzling ourselves to make ourselves more desirable to the opposite sex (or to other women for that matter). That’s for someone brainier than I. But I will tell you that if you find yourself with a partner or friends that you’re toning yourself down for or apologizing for your words, deeds, and thoughts, then it is time to get yourself a new partner and a new set of goddamned friends because that shit is all kinds of fucked up. Unless you’re fucking Hitler or Dick Cheney or the guy that invented the chastity belt, why should you have to apologize for existing? I realize you Canadians will have a hard time with this since you practically fall out of the womb saying sorry, but that’s more of an unfailingly polite thing and we’ll overlook it for now because you’re just such lovely people, and you did bring the world poutine. The rest of you ladies have no excuse. Hold your heads high, look straight ahead, open your mouths, and let those opinions out. And whoever can’t hang will leave.
I promise, you’ll be better off for it.