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Empowering Changes That Every Woman Should Make This Year

In the last year, I have made a conscious effort to become a more assertive woman. In a society where women are often talked over, looked over, and essentially ignored, we often have to shout twice as loud and fight twice as hard in order to be heard. 

This year, I challenge you to employ the following changes. Not only will they help you feel more seen, but over time, they can empower women as a whole. 

 

Be mindful of, and less generous with, your apologies

It’s perfectly okay to apologize when you have harmed someone, but it’s time to cut out weightless apologies. We often find ourselves tossing the phrase “oops, sorry” around for no reason at all. This is a problem because every girl on this planet is trained, from birth, to apologize. Apologize for being wrong, for being too loud, for having a contrasting opinion, for taking up space. Us women are trained to apologize for our existence. 

We start our sentences with, "sorry, but..." and "I might be wrong but....", because we are conditioned, from the start, to not back our words with confidence, because then we would be too opinionated or emotional or just "too much". And then we would have to apologize. So, we diminish ourselves before we even get the chance to start talking. 

Stop apologizing if you are not truly sorry. Start speaking with confidence and sincerity. Do not apologize for having an opinion, for having needs, or for taking up space. 

Correct those that interrupt you

 

Whether it be in the workplace, an academic or a professional environment, practice informing those that you cut you off or speak over you that you are, in fact, speaking. *Insert Kamala Harris clip here*. 

Great phrases to use are:

“I was speaking, and I am going to finish.”

“I would love to hear what you have to add, after I have finished speaking.”

“You have interrupted me. I am going to continue speaking before you begin.”

Let’s allow ourselves to be heard instead of talked over this year. 

Recognize, and lead others to recognize, areas where you are extending yourself

When someone asks you to do a favor (especially in the workplace), work to get rid of the phrase, “no problem”. Instead, restate what has been asked of you and inform those asking that you are helping them out. Try using the phrase, “I can certainly help you out by doing _____,” or “I would be happy to make ____ change to benefit you.” Be explicit when things are asked of you, and don’t brush off the changes you are making to benefit others by insisting that it is “no problem”. This is often how things become expected of us, and we start to get walked on or taken advantage of. 

Correct language that disempowers you (and other women)

This one is especially applicable in the workplace. Certain phrases and words that actively belittle women are heavily normalized in the professional world. 

For example: “girl”. 

In professional spheres, being referred to as a “girl” is disrespectful and reduces us to something small or inexperienced. It makes it harder for us or our work to be taken seriously. When belittled by this sneaky language, make an effort to correct it. Practice the phrases: 

“I am a woman, not a girl, and would like to be referred to as such.”

“If you must make that comment, please respectfully refer to me as a woman because I am not a child.”

By becoming aware of the way in which we allow ourselves to be disempowered, we can work to change it. Employing these small changes in our everyday lives can lead to a society where women can be assertive, respected, and uplifted.

Miranda is a political science prelaw and journalism major at Michigan State University. She loves yoga, pasta salad, and plants (she currently has 42!).
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