Ladies, Stop Apologizing For Things You’re Not Sorry About

amy poehler

The other day, I was going to get in line for breakfast when some guy completely cut me off and hopped in line before me. “Oh, sorry!” I exclaimed, as I found my place behind him in line. But I instantly realized two things. One, I was actually not sorry, because I didn’t even do anything wrong since he was the one that cut me off in the first place. And two, he didn’t apologize, and had he been a girl, he probably would have.

Immediately after my breakfast, I went to class. In my class, my professor asked a question to the class. A girl sitting in the third row had her hand up and so did the boy in front of her in the second row. The professor called on the girl, and her response was to the boy. She said, “no, sorry, you go!”. While it was nice of her to offer to let him go first, I realized that this whole girls-apologizing-for-things-they’re-not-sorry-about thing happens every single day. Even though it’s only been a few days since I became aware of this, I’ve seen it everywhere. When I opened the door to get into my dorm, a girl was also opening it from the other side and muttered a quick “sorry” before she rushed out the door. When I was on the bus and a girl needed to push through the crowd to get off, she kept saying “excuse me, sorry” to anyone that was in her way.

In addition to observing girls apologizing for trivial things, I’ve also observed a lack of apologies from the guys. When a boy accidentally bumps someone with their backpack trying to get to their seat in class, when they walk around the corner and almost run into you, when they bump into you at a party and cause you to spill your drink, they don’t apologize. I think this comes from two things: they’ve never been taught to apologize and they’re not actually sorry.

The latter idea is pretty straightforward. When someone else cuts you off in line for breakfast or when you bump someone at a party, you’re not really that sorry. You don’t feel distress or sympathy for someone else’s misfortune (I’m not going to bore you with another dictionary definition, but you know how much I love those). But seriously, when you apologize for something, you should be genuinely sorry about it. So shoutout to all the boys for being true to their feelings and not apologizing for trivial things they’re not actually sorry about.

But the other point is a much bigger issue: girls have been taught to apologize. We have been taught to ask for permission, to not offend, to be quiet and accept things as they are. Historically, this makes sense, as society viewed women with disregard for years. But it’s 2017, and the world is {slowly} beginning to look at us as equals. I think it’s important to point out how evident it is that there still is a problem. We are apologizing for things that we aren’t sorry for, because we have this idea engrained subconsciously that it’s our role to be gentle and passive.

But that’s the funny thing about all this: we can be whoever and whatever we want. If I want to state my opinion, I’m going to state my opinion. If I don’t feel like I need to ask for permission, I won’t. I am a fully independent woman, I don’t need a word like “sorry” to act as a crutch. I don’t need to be gentle and passive all the time. And neither does anyone else, male or female.

I’m not the only one to notice this, either. Pantene did a great commercial back in 2014 that demonstrated my point. Check it out here:

This is a hard thing to work past. We are working against years of inequality and attitudes that have been passed down for generations. But I know after noticing my behavior and the behavior of other women around me, I am going to try my best to stop apologizing for things I am not sorry for. I don’t owe anyone an apology that isn’t genuine, and neither does anyone else.

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