OPINION: Why women should stop apologizing

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Annie Skoulis is a senior English writing
major from Columbus, Ohio.
SAM CARAVANA / THE DEPAUW

Imagine yourself walking through the airport terminal. Someone bumps into your side and you instantly respond saying, “Oh, I’m sorry!” While not everyone takes blind ownership for another person’s error, many find themselves apologizing for no reason. Over time, the word “sorry” has lost its meaning. Today, saying the phrase “I’m sorry” is used more often to break the ice in uncomfortable situations than it is for an actual heartfelt apology. And unfortunately women are being called out for jumping on the apology train. 

While getting lost in the YouTube vortex one afternoon, a Pantene ad (yes, a Pantene ad) challenged my thinking concerning this topic. The ad shows various scenarios of women apologizing in situations where it is completely unnecessary. In one scene, a woman says, “Sorry, can I ask a stupid question?” when she has a question in a professional business meeting. An uncalled-for apology directed towards the man leading the meeting. She has nothing to be sorry about. After more examples like this one are shown, the ad shows the same women in the same situations. Yet, this time the women do not apologize. It is simply refreshing. Considering this video has over 15 million views, people evidently find this video thought provoking and relevant in today’s society.

Pantene’s message is significant because when we apologize for something pointless, it lowers our self-esteem. Moreover, through apologizing, we are essentially claiming that we are in the wrong simply because there is small discomfort in the particular situation. 

When we are little, our parents teach us to apologize when we do something that hurts someone or if we are in the wrong. It is sad that as we grow older, saying “I’m sorry” is used as a way to break the ice or as a way to cover up someone else’s mistake. More specifically, it is even sadder that women are more inclined to feel like it is their fault.

While in some circumstances saying “I’m sorry” is necessary, in other everyday situations, apologizing is pointless and has lost its specified purpose. Not only do I encourage women to look out for the unnecessary apology but men as well. Guys, if you hear a female apologizing when you accidentally bump into her simply say “no need to apologize.” And gals, let’s not be afraid to nicely remind each other when we mistakenly apologize for asking a question or giving your opinion.    

Over time, an unhealthy mindset is being formed in your head. While this might seem like something small now, it is a big deal in the long run.