Actually, I’m NOT sorry

by moniguzman on August 18, 2014

Tonight I joined a women’s professional discussion group to talk about apologies. Namely, how women tend to say “sorry” too much.

The moderator, Channing Daniel, sent out this Hairpin article before the meeting, and pulled out this quote:

Apologizing is a survival skill in a society where women are penalized, personally and professionally, for being abrasive, for speaking their minds, for not smoothing their sharp edges down, for not fitting in. Apologizing is a way of saying I know I’m smart but I don’t mean to be. I know I take up space but I’m trying not to. I want you to like me more than I want to be right. These are things the world demands from women. If you don’t provide them, it punishes you. Before I started apologizing I heard all the time, secondhand, that people hated me. That this girl or that girl thought I was a bitch. That I was too aggressive and guys were scared of me. I never hear that anymore.

The idea that the world rewards women for apologizing infuriates me. But I can’t say it’s not happening.

I’m a communicator, and I know language has more power than most people realize. In the last several years I’ve worked hard not to demean myself with verbal disclaimers — “sorry” among them.

But it’s hard. And even if I have managed to eradicate one or another verbal tick, I know I haven’t conquered this outsized fear of not being appreciated. As long as I have that fear, I think, I’ll want — somehow — to cower.

The consensus among the group was that there’s got to be a better way. A way for us to communicate with empathy — a feminine strength — without making ourselves smaller than we are.

And a way, too, to build resilience against disapproval. I liked how one woman compared men to waffles and women to spaghetti. When a man experiences tension, it stays contained, like syrup in a waffle square. When a women experiences tension, it gets all over everything, like spaghetti sauce.

“I want to look people in the eye and I want them to love it,” Channing said at one point, and that about summed it up for me. Fearless self expression. I don’t deserve any less.

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