I don’t mean to be rude, but people disclaiming their actions does not excuse what they’re about to say.
Many people, and more often women, say “I’m sorry” a lot. This issue has been brought to light time and time again, including by Time Magazine’s Jessica Bennett.
The general idea is as follows: “We’re not sorry to be asking a question, we’re simply trying to be polite. We’re trying to make a statement, a direct one, without being deemed ‘bossy’ or ‘too aggressive.’ Sorry is simply another way of downplaying our power, of softening what we do, to seem nice”.
She’s right – she’s so right. They all are and everyone is. I, myself, apologize without hesitation; half of the time I think it’s because I’m actually a considerate human being and apologizing at each step helps me to show that, but that’s certainly a delusion of self.
These disclaimers began in order to avoid being chastised for seeming impolite or inconsiderate as was expected of women at the time. It was intentional, and it was necessary.
Women clearly have not been empowered by society in the past, and are still not today. Though society is gradually becoming a safer place for women to express their opinions, we still have a ways to go.
As I was talking about this idea with some friends, as well as the Time article specifically, we began to realize an occasional and strange manipulation of “I’m sorry,” which is what I hope to expand on going forward.
“I’m sorry, but…”
“No offense, but…”
“Maybe I’m wrong, but…”
“I don’t mean this in a bad way, but…”
“I don’t mean to be rude, but…”
From what I’ve seen, so many of my friends still apologize left and right for stating their opinion, asking a question they’re nervous about, being a darn human being.
Then there are those girls. It’s not the girl who’s nervous to say what she means, but whose “I’m sorry” unnecessarily lingers. This “I’m sorry” isn’t a habit of not feeling like she can say what she wants to say, but actually believing that the disclaimer makes everything to follow an okay thing to say.
“I’m sorry, but she’s driving me crazy.”
“No offense, but she has really low standards.”
“I don’t mean to be rude, but she really shouldn’t be eating that.”
“I’m sorry” has evolved from an insinuation of “I hope this is okay to say” to “I know I shouldn’t be saying this.”
Nowadays, not only is “I’m sorry” unnecessary, but it’s a subconscious lead-in any time you want to say something unproductive or unkind.
Women’s opinions weren’t always respected; we weren’t always empowered. Yet, now here we are, not empowering ourselves when we actually have the opportunity to do so – apologizing to absolve responsibility.
That’s the thing – we can’t keep apologizing. We have the right to our opinion. We must empower ourselves to say what we mean and mean what we say.
Using “I’m sorry” so frivolously helps perpetuate this symbol of a patriarchal society. “I’m sorry” is no longer the mask that protects us as we break free from societal constraints, but rather a mask to protect us from anything we can’t own up to.
No offense, but maybe we’ve all gotten too comfortable with saying “I’m sorry” instead of actually considering how to say what we mean in a constructive or productive way. Maybe “I’m sorry” is to excuse an unfiltered statement – because we can and because we want to.
Even so, I don’t mean to be rude, but we can be rude if we want to.
I’m sorry, but don’t perpetuate the mask.