Women have been unnecessarily apologising since the dawn of time. The cavewoman grunted to caveman, “Sorry honey, I didn't get a chance to tidy the cave today, that damn sabre tooth tiger is back again,” and caveman probably responded with an unenthusiastic groan then got back to watching the fire.
Sometimes it isn't even obvious to us when or why we are saying sorry, it's just our programmed go-to. Our apologies are usually accompanied by "don’t worry about it. No everything is fine, I’m alright," when what we really want to say is, "No it's really not okay that you just spilt your coffee all over me, this is real fucking cashmere."
Sadly, it’s a profoundly female trait. Did we inherit it from our mothers or is it something that is engrained into the female culture? Probably a little of both.
I distinctly remember one night at dinner, at the delightful age of 13 or 14, my mother who has never been known for her expert culinary endeavours once again tried her hardest to prepare a meal that both my brother and I would enjoy. Turns out she made my favourite meal of the moment and one that she was good at making . My brother obviously didn't approve and grumbled the way most 16-year old boys do “Really mum? Chilli con carne again?”
My poor mum sighed her signature sigh and let out a “Sorry sweetheart." Should my mother really have had apologise to her own son for providing him with food? Fuck no. For some reason though she felt the need to say sorry and it’s something I find myself doing on a daily basis. “Sorry but I asked for soy latte and this is full cream, "sorry about that," " sorry, could you just pass me that?" “sorry for sending two texts in a row” Sorry, Sorry, Sorry.
A lot of the time we're doing it because we want to appear polite and easy going but sometimes we say it for no real reason at all. I even apologise to the dog if he’s silently sleeping at my feet and I accidentally kick him, he usually gives me a look that says “Yes, you should be sorry, you stupid human.”
Dog apologises aside, having chronic apologising syndrome is a seriously detrimental trait to have to deal with. Instead of sweetening what we really intended to say with a cushion of sorry, why not be assertive and construct a response that doesn't involve you being sorry at all?
What I should have said when the barista handed me the non soy latte is “Hey, I paid an extra 50c for a soy latte but this if full cream, could you make me another please?” No apologises necessary. It may seem like an issue you can push aside for the time being but I challenge you to think of all the times you have apologised in the last week.
It’s not a silly little trait that some girls have, it’s a major issue that is being passed down to the younger generation of women and we need to address it. Why should we teach little girls to be sorry when they do something unintentionally but let the boys get away with teasing and aggressive behaviour? Shouldn't we instead teach them useful ways of handling themselves in difficult conversations?
When I punched my mother in the face at the age of five should I have been sorry? Of course! When my brother ripped the heads off my barbie dolls should I have said sorry for not keeping them in my room? No. #imnotsorry