Not Sorry!

I’m still working on not being one of those women who apologizes all the time.  Being in the military has been very good for helping break the habit, but I still do it.  I am guilty of pretty much every scenario in this video.

I am also terrible at saying “no” and calling people out when I’m uncomfortable.  But I try.  And I will continue to try even harder because I don’t want my daughter picking up on my bad habits.  As she grows up, I want her to stay the strong, independent, opinionated, and feisty girl she already is.  I want her to learn that “sorry” is a powerful word to be used when you actually hurt someone or something, and not to be used as awkward filler material when you’re not truly sorry at all.  And it certainly shouldn’t be used in the self-deprecating way that women frequently use it.

What’s the big deal with saying “sorry?”  When we say it without having done anything wrong, it weakens us.  It takes away what little power we have.  When a guy bumps into me and I’m the one who says “sorry” it sends the message that he can irritate or possibly hurt me (or at the very least be rude) and not only get away with it, but I’ll even think it’s my own fault!  Or at least I’m trying so hard to keep the peace and be polite and submissive that I’ll apologize for just about anything.

One of the good examples I look at for how to break the habit is the Liaden culture in one of my favorite sci-fi series of books.  Written by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, the Liaden people detest and discourage apologizing – they will express regret, make amends, or take revenge as needed (achieving balance, as they call it), but they don’t say sorry.  It’s even considered rude to do so – it’s something that puts a burden on the person you are saying sorry to.  The Liaden universe is one of my favorites to escape to, in part because the people are polite and firm and the women are so very strong.

Are you a chronic apologizer?  How do you work to stand up for yourself and break the habit?



Filed under Equality, Opinion pieces

3 responses to “Not Sorry!

  1. I see this a lot among both women and men in a joint headquarters where we’ve got military, civilian employees, and contractors of all ranks. In an uncertain rank structure where we don’t really understand what kind of authority or respect pertains, people make a concerted effort not to give offense. Well, most people – there’s also me. I’ve also gotten grief from people who think I’m over-confident, pushy, and a number of other things, so the “sorry, not sorry” approach has some downfalls as well.


    • I run into that a lot here – military are outnumbered by civilians about 20 to 1 at this command and I have really had to adjust my approach and been pulled aside and told I need to be ‘nicer.’ We also have a very low percentage of women, especially young women, and the few women we do have tend to be in the admin side of the house. A lot of my coworkers don’t know how to relate to me any more than I so to them! I have wonder, though, if they would still think you pushy if you were a guy? Maybe that’s just the pessimist side of me talking!


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