A man bumped into me the other day inside of a store and I apologized to him. Then it occurred to me: Why the hell am I apologizing for someone bumping into me? Might I add, the man didn’t apologize even though he was the one who bumped into me. That entire day, I constantly fought the urge to not say sorry in the mall and still managed to slip an apology by accident when I walked too close to someone.
Then I heard it again and again. And again. I couldn’t keep count of how many times I heard the word “sorry” from countless women that week. It began to drive me mad. I realized that women apologizing when they have absolutely nothing to be sorry for, was nothing new to me, I just never noticed it.
I became aware that if I walk in a grocery isle and a woman is passing by with a cart, most times she will kindly smile and apologize. If I walk too close to someone, my friends sometimes even apologize for me. When women ask professors questions after class, most times, I hear them apologize for asking them a question or wasting their time.
It’s always women who apologize when they should have nothing to be sorry for. Men, on the other hand do not apologize nearly as much as we do. In fact, studies prove that women apologize more, because they believe they are doing something wrong. Men, on the other hand, apologize less, because they do not think they are doing anything wrong.
Call me crazy, call me a raging feminist who likes to nitpick small problems, but there is nothing wrong with wanting women to feel just as empowered as men. This problem is much bigger than unnecessarily apologizing in malls and grocery stores. This is a deeper problem that stems from women growing up in a patriarchal society that tells them that they should “act like a lady” by wearing certain things, filtering certain thoughts and presenting themselves in a certain way.
Acting like a lady does not mean apologizing for every action. Since when did acting like a lady equal being insecure?
We as women need to redefine what is wrong and what needs apologizing for. It’s not that men feel weak apologizing, they simply don’t think they are doing anything wrong that elicits an apology. I think that many women believe that saying sorry is a sign of politeness, but there are so many other ways women can show that they are polite without having to undermine themselves.
Here’s my advice that I myself will also try to ram in my head until I finally break free of this habit. Ladies, unless you actually did something wrong, you have absolutely nothing to apologize for. Be sure of yourself, be confident and stop feeling that your questions and thoughts are any less than those of others.
Since a Pantene commercial pointed out the problem and began the online campaign #SorryNotSorry, it has sparked some new discussion on the topic. However, being sorry for not being sorry defeats the purpose—#SorryNotSorry still begins with yet again another apology.
The average person apologizes 233,600 times in a lifetime. Don’t be one of those people; don’t be sorry for not being sorry.