Casey Regan spent her 2018 summer off from Bryant University with us at the Women's Fund of Rhode Island (WFRI). She wrote about what she learned here:
at home before my mom comes home from work, or when I cut someone off Route 295 on my way to college every morning. I’ve been saying sorry for everything - and I mean everything. Everything includes people bumping into me in the hallways at school, and when the waiter at a restaurant gets my order wrong, and when I need to meet with my professors at a time that may or may not be slightly inconvenient for them.
As a Communication major, every day from the months of September until May, I learn all about words and language. Why people say things, and how people say things. You’d think I would’ve realized my excessive use of the word sorry. But I didn’t; at least, not until a year ago when a (female) professor called me out in front of my whole class after I apologized to one of my male classmates for disagreeing with him. “Casey, why are you apologizing for disagreeing? You do that too much. What’s the point?” Feeling embarrassed, I mumbled “sorry” again.
I decided to intern at the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island because I considered female empowerment, reproductive justice, and gender equity things that are extremely close to my heart. They’re topics I’m passionate about, and have been since the time I was 16 when I first watched the documentary “Killing Me Softly” at school. When I applied for the internship, I was excited to learn about these subjects in depth and have hands-on experience in making a difference.
While working here at the WFRI, my perspectives on so many issues have both improved and changed. Firstly, I’ve realized that I need to use a more intersectional lens when handling ideas of gender equity. Not all feminism is the same; my experience as, for example, a half-Jewish white woman growing up in the suburbs is not the same as a black Catholic woman who has spent her whole life in the city. I cannot assume that what I’ve learned from my experiences can be applied to hers, and vice versa. I’ve also learned how important media representation is, especially in times like these. Young girls and boys of all backgrounds deserve to see themselves on their television screens or their computer monitors without the fear of stereotypes. These kids are impressionable, and it is necessary to make sure all children, especially young girls, feel represented in the television shows, the internet videos, and other media they intake.
I also learned that I am not the only one that apologizes too much; rather, I am one of many. I have learned through my research and experience here that women all too often are conditioned to apologize to men. Women are shown to feel inferior; therefore, that is why we say sorry.
As a college student, I have personally seen the effects of this. In my classes, my fellow female classmates often apologize unnecessarily as well. Unfortunately, it is just symptom of how we were taught as young girls. However, as college students, we also have the power to change how society works. That is why I think it is important for all young people, not just women, to get involved in organizations like the Women’s Fund; to not only learn about changing the narrative, but also how to do so. Young students like me can easily get involved with local organizations that revolve around gender equity by simply doing their research; they can search online about gender inequity issues in their state, get involved with local campaigns of those who care about women’s issues; they can even get involved at their university.
I’m going into this school year with a resolution; I’m going to remove unnecessary sorry’s from my vocabulary. No more apologizing to my classmates when I disagree. No more saying sorry if I feel like I’m “bothering” people. I hope that by doing this, I can influence my other friends as well as those younger than me to remove “sorry” from their daily vernacular, too.
We can be the generation to end unneeded apologies. We can show young girls that we shouldn’t be sorry. All we have to do is lead by example.
Sorry, not sorry.