Sorry, but why are you saying that?

Have you noticed how many times a day you say sorry? And for what? Many of us, women more than men, have made a habit out of misusing the word –instead of limiting it to expressing regret or an apology, we’ve made it a multi-purpose substitute word. It’s an issue that an ad made me realise recently.

Pantene, the hair care brand released a new ad in the US that I found to be a brilliant example of a brand identifying and using this as a cause. In 60 seconds, the ad manages to communicate the cause, show us how we can change, makes the consumers feel empowered, and connects it to their product as well! See it here:

In just one viewing I found myself introspecting whether I’m guilty of the behaviour they’re trying to change. And yes, I admit, I too find myself using the word sorry as a ‘politeness projector’ much more than my male colleagues and friends do. Of course, after seeing the ad I’ve made a mental note to stop using an apology where none is needed.

So why are we women doing this as a habit, for that’s what it has become for many of us? See the ad again. If no one had pointed it out, I’m sure you would have not thought of all the ‘sorries’ in the situations as anything more than good manners or polite words. But the signal it is sending out is what is dangerous – that an apology is needed. When more and more women are apologising without need, it becomes expected of them. Men don’t need to but women should? That’s a dangerous slide backwards for gender equality.

That’s exactly why we need to fight that urge to say sorry for no real reason.

But why ARE we saying sorry so often anyway? Is it just politeness? If so, why are we so obsessed with this requirement for civility? Are we like that at home too, with our families, where our power-balance is much more clear and established? No, we aren’t.

So are we then projecting politeness to others – to be more well-liked? Very possible. An article a friend shared with me ( pointed out how social media is changing us to become ‘Like’ addicts. We are seeking validation, trying to be agreeable, and winning approval for everything we do. Online, it’s easy to share everything we do. And easy for others to approve. One click at their convenience is all it takes. And a score is being kept. For everything. Our friends, our followers, our likes. To our likeability there is now a measurable ‘ability’!

We are allowing our substance, our content to be judged by our approval ratings. Sure, that applies to men too, but they don’t seem to be distributing as many ‘sorries’ as we do. Maybe they have fewer ‘confidence’ issues, in what still is a man’s world!

All the more reason then to stop being so careless in our use of the word sorry. We women are fighting for our equal place in a world where even the women of USA got full voting rights only in 1920 – less than a hundred years ago!

So if anyone should be sorry, it should be the men! Like Pantene says, let’s stop being too sorry and be strong and shine.

Maybe I should try the shampoo too.



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