Why Are Women Trained to Apologize?


Do you find yourself apologizing for the most miniscule, insignificant occurrences that happen in your day-to-day life? Well, I do.


If I bump into someone on my way to class, even if they were the one glued to their phone and completely detached from the real world, I’m the one apologizing. Or if I randomly rant to a close friend or my significant other, I apologize. Then, when my friends and boyfriend call me out on my ridiculousness, I apologize for saying sorry too much. I even apologize for getting “too excited” about my accomplishments or being “too sad” when I get discouraged. Why am I apologizing for expressing myself?

But what strikes me the most is that I find myself saying sorry for being assertive. It can be something as simple as my coffee order being wrong. I hesitate before asking the barista to redo my order- something they are literally being paid to do!- and when I finally find the courage to ask, I make it a point to apologize at least three times for putting them through all that trouble. Why am I apologizing for asserting my wants and needs?


I feel this compulsive need to say sorry for any inconvenience that may occur whether I caused it or not, which most of the time, I didn’t. I then came to the realization that all the women in my life- my mom, grandma, aunts and girlfriends have this same instinct too. The countless amounts of times we say sorry in a day is something we all laugh and bond over. But is this really something we should brush off so nonchalantly?


It’s not. 

When we were young girls we were told that it is our duty as females to embody a nurturing and caring nature, but this turns into a curse when we make ourselves feel responsible for taking care of everyone else’s happiness before taking care of our own. When we played with our Barbies, we were taught to care for this inanimate object above all else and if we failed to do that, we were taught guilt. When the boys at school tugged on our hair, we were taught that we needed to apologize for making ourselves vulnerable to that behavior and there was nothing we could do since “boys will be boys”. Boys were taught to be brave while girls were taught to behave properly. Bravery, honesty and good manners all are important lessons for children but this needs to be taught to all genders. This is the precise reason why girls grow up to be afraid and self-conscious of how they act.


All of this has led to women having an instinctual “sorry reflex”.

A study done by LiveScience reveals that women do apologize more because they feel responsible for the emotional experience of those surrounding them. Men typically do not have as low of a standard as women do for what requires an apology.


What has lead to this low standard isn’t clear, but it could be associated with how differently boys and girls are raised.

Why were women raised, and therefore almost trained, to be so apologetic? Maybe it’s time for men to say sorry and be more apologetic. But before changing anyone else, we need to change ourselves, ladies.

Take some advice from Barbie herself! Stop apologizing and allow yourself to be the assertive girl boss you’re destined to be!

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