Do We As Women Apologize Too Much?

There seems to be a tendency in women to be apologetic, sometimes to a fault, so it would seem.  Part of the Women’s Liberation Movement, which began in the 1960’s, addressed the issue of women’s equality in social roles and role playing which appeared to put women into a position of subservience to the needs of men in our society.

Even as a confused boy struggling to find my place as a man when I was neither boy nor man, I was aware in myself that I did not see the world, nor my place in it, the same way as my male peers.  I tried to deny my feelings by going along with the crowd, but despite all my efforts to fit in, all I did was suppress those feelings as the males of our species are shamed into believing in order to act like a man.  As hard as I tried, I never seemed to be able to integrate those ideas and feelings into my intellectual and emotional self identity.

I was in college in the late 1960’s in the milieu of the great social upheaval, not only in the Civil Rights for people of color and other minorities but in the equal rights of all people, including gender non-discrimination, particularly involving outmoded gender roles. This social upheaval was exacerbated by the US military intervention in a conflict that was supposed to stop the proliferation of Communism into Southeastern Asia, once known as Indo-China which had been the focus of political thinking in the West in the post World War II era that came to be known as the Cold War.

I had mixed emotions about the Feminist Movement. This was symbolized by the slogan Burn Your Bra which also coincided with the burning of American flags in protest to the Vietnam War, a war that was not ratified by the US House of Representatives nor Senate. This emotional turmoil in myself was due in part to my closeted cross-dressing, where the bra symbolized my idea of femininity in my confused notions of what made me more comfortable in my own skin.

In contrast to this emotional turmoil, I had already developed an affinity for women with regard to equality in all sectors of concern and their apparent ability to freely express their emotional status, often demonstrated in the act of bursting into tears for no apparent reason. As the boy I was not, I was shamed into believing crying to be a sign of weakness as in the pejorative terms sissy or worse, cry baby.  I spoke of this before in a previous post about an incident in the fourth grade where I was humiliated in front of my classmates by my teacher. She was later chided by the school principal after my Mom heard about it and protested her unprofessional behavior.  My teacher apologized before my classmates but the humiliation would never be expunged and would continue to haunt me for the rest of my life, until I came out and transitioned.

You may be asking “Deanna? So what did you come here to say, anyway?”

I am a former member of a LinkedIn page called “Connect: Professional Women’s Network Powered by Citi.”  The topic that set forth in motion this thesis is titled “SORRY: Do women apologize too much?  I actually commented twice to the post and it is the second comment to which I want to draw your attention.  It is mostly verbatim with some changes to wording and additional sentences to bring my comment into perspective to my present posting. Suffice to say, this is my own take on the subject and is really not open to debate because, well, it just isn’t. If you want to see the original discussion I have provided the link above to read it yourself, along with all the comments, if you haven’t done so already.

It seems to me that what we are talking about in this topic is our deference to men and other women of perceived higher social rank by factors such as age and which appears to show up in our feminine speech patterns. While the use of “feminine” can be pejorative in many instances the definition to which I am referring is “having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with women.”

We learn these speech patterns as little girls and those speech patterns are reinforced by our social role models within our western cultural milieu. I have evaluated this observation from my unique point of view from having crossed over to the feminine side of the fence. My evaluation of what I see going on is that there seems to be a quality in women’s deferential behavior in speech and so forth that suggests to me that this is not just a factor of nurture, as opposed to nature, nor a factor in women’s self-esteem. While these speech patterns are characteristically female, our deferential behavior seems to serve the purpose of preventing conflict from escalating into violence which is not a factor of nurture, but of our nature as women to have less testosterone and more estrogen in our bodies.

Wut j’all t’ink about dat?

Deanna Joy Hallmark




About Deanna Joy Hallmark

I am a post-op transgender woman who has now completed transition and living my life as the woman I was born to be. I have been writing my blog, now titled "A Spy in the Enemy Camp - A transgender woman’s perspective from having lived as a man among men" since December 2011. Originally a record of my process and feelings in transition, last summer in 2013 it took on observations from both sides of the gender binary and now will also be looking at my past life pretending to be the man I never was and how it finally brought me to where I am today, the beautiful intelligent woman I had always believed I should have been since I was little.
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2 Responses to Do We As Women Apologize Too Much?

  1. I have often found myself frustrated when working with/supervising strong women leaders that they take an apologetic or deferential tone when sharing their ideas. I think women can be unapologetic about sharing their ideas without feeding into a conflict dynamic. I do think it’s socialized and not something inherent to women. I don’t like to police women’s speech to the point that they feel uncomfortable, but I have tried to point it out before and would like to see women more confidently embracing their rightful place in conversations.

  2. Rebecca, I have often turned that kind of frustration around to look into my own patterns of behavior to see how I can at least reduce the habitual deferment I practice often so unconsciously. That way I can begin to reclaim my own self worth while being a light to my sisters. There is a prayer that we say at the end of my 12-step group called the ACA Serenity Prayer which goes something like this.
    To my higher power who some may call God, Grant me the power to know the things I cannot change and to change the one who can, and to have the wisdom to know that the one I can change, is me!

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