“I’m sorry, but I have a boyfriend.”
“Thank you, but I’m not interested; I’m sorry.”
“I’m so sorry; let me just get by you really quick.”
“I’m sorry to bother you, but can you stop talking so loud?”
I can’t count how many times I’ve said the word “sorry” in my life. However, I just can’t help it. I’ve been conditioned to act this way since I was little, as I assume most women have been.
I was told to be nice to men who hit on me because “you don’t know if they are crazy!” There are stories of women being followed home by men they’ve rejected, and it terrifies me. Saying a simple “no” just isn’t enough, I feel the need to overcompensate in order to come across as genuinely sorry.
I was told to use phrases like “excuse me” or “sorry” when doing anything that could be potentially distracting to another person. Even in a situation where the person is bothering me, I am still obligated to say a kind phrase before addressing the problem.
Why are we like this? I am always constantly aware of my environment, and I always take into consideration other people’s well-being. Why do I feel as though not many men feel the same?
Men are allowed to be blunt, which is seen as honest. When women are blunt, we are rude. Women are expected to be kind and forgiving to those who have wronged them, while men are allowed to be cold and hostile. It has been like this for ages, and it is simply a remnant of past patriarchal ideals.
I read an article about a phenomenon that states that men are less likely to move out of the way for a woman than for a man. It made me think back to all the times that I was walking on the sidewalk down Bay State Road. I would be walking on the right side, and when a group of guys was walking toward me, I would shift out of the way for them. Even though I had the right of way, and their group was taking up both sides of the sidewalk, I still moved out of courtesy.
After reading that article, I decided to test it out. When a man walked in my direction on the sidewalk, I didn’t move out of the way. I remember vividly how we both walked straight into each other’s path until the last second when he realized I wasn’t going to move. He swerved out of the way, and our shoulders lightly collided as a result. He gave me a dirty look. What was funny was that I was holding back the urge to say sorry.
As women, we are always expected to be friendly. While it isn’t wrong to be kind, it has to have its limits. We must set boundaries for ourselves and speak up when it comes time.