Women, Let’s Stop Saying Sorry Just To Avoid Coming Across As Bossy

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Do women apologise too much? Every time a woman puts across an opinion, it is prefixed or suffixed by a sheepish ‘sorry.’ It’s a defensive tool we use in anticipation of hostility towards us, not because we are wrong, but because we’re women. Imagine the gender oppression it has taken to get us to this point. We feel compelled to apologise for being ourselves, literally.

Ladies, are we better off without saying sorry? 

This is not about arrogance or ego preservation. Or an argument against courtesy. If we bump into someone at a coffee shop, of course, a quick apology will be in order. Instead, this is about fostering self-confidence. Women have been conditioned so deeply to remain silent, be obedient, bend over backward for others, uphold conventional morality and give themselves up to patriarchy that they feel almost guilty expressing agency in any form. 

Isn’t it time that we slowly nurture change within this toxic culture of self-deprecation? Why should we be apologetic for who we are, the views we hold and the way we conduct ourselves? Why should we pull ourselves down when we could well be pushing each other up, with support from a sisterhood born of similar experiences?

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As per a study conducted by the University of Waterloo in Canada, it was found that women apologise more than men since there are differences in how each gender perceives what counts for offensiveness. Obviously, this threshold is much lower for women than for men, with the latter exercising dominance across domains – at home, in offices, on the streets – courtesy the male privilege afforded to them by our patriarchal social setup.

Women Stop Apologising

A fear of sparking conflict or low self-esteem are leading identifiers of why people apologise excessively and compulsively. This nature, coupled with an inclination for people-pleasing, is what keeps women from making bold assertions about their thoughts and choices.

“It’s a very subconscious behaviour when they start getting submissive,” Dr Saloni Singh, a life and relationship coach, tells SheThePeople. “They will be unassertive even if they disagree with something, won’t speak up for themselves, always feel: what are people thinking of me? Are they judging me?” Her clientele, she says, comprises more women. More here.

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Could this overly and constantly apologetic behaviour be wounding women’s attempts at equality? Is it disempowering our cause in our domestic and professional lives? In board rooms, for instance, a female employee may begin with – ‘Sorry, may I say something?’ – before proceeding to put her suggestion forth.

Why don’t we cut the redundant sorries out, when they don’t add to the conversation but greatly subtract from our own self-worth? 

At the same time, it’s true that women are disproportionately targeted for espousing ideas that do not conform. We still live in a society where women are either assaulted or even killed for turning away men pursuing them romantically. So we are on the literal edge for nothing less than our lives when we dare to diverge. Therefore, peppering everything we say with sorries is a way for us to insulate ourselves, if only a little, from danger.

Without our sorries, is the world safe for us? Naturally, this is a fight that needs multi-level reform. While we women make the push for greater conviction in our own selves, society too needs to undergo a major overhaul that will shift public consciousness towards women’s opinions.

Views expressed are the author’s own.