Studies reveal that females tend to apologise far more frequently than males, even for things they don't do wrong. Why do we do this, and how do we overcome it?
The recent release of Taylor Swift's documentary, Miss Americana, sheds light on Taylor's journey not only to musical stardom but tells how she is becoming confident in who she is and learning to be unapologetically herself. In an on camera interview, Taylor promptly apologises for expressing her opinion about negative labels placed upon women. She then corrects herself, "Why did I say sorry? Ugh!". Lana Wilson, the director behind the camera, says, "It's because we're trained to say sorry." Taylor agrees, "Yeah, we legitimately are!"
Although the exchange between Taylor and Lana is brief, their comments are very telling of how women are continually and unnecessarily apologetic of being themselves, expressing their opinion, and putting themselves forward.
It’s about time girls dump the apology habit, ‘shake it off’, and learn to be confident and unapologetic in who we are!
Image credit: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP
Why are girls more apologetic than boys? The curse of the ‘good girl’. From a young age, strong-willed girls who are brave communicators and display leadership qualities are more often than not labelled as ‘bossy.’ Society expects girls to be polite, quiet, and ladylike instead of being bold, daring, and adventurous when expressing themselves and making decisions. Because of these expectations, girls learn when they are young that showing self-assurance and being authoritative is negative, and feel an inability to contribute without being undermined, told off, questioned, judged or rejected.
For a long time, Taylor Swift revealed that above all else, she felt the need to please and was obsessed with the idea of being a ‘good girl.’ We are all too familiar with the curse of being the ‘good girl,’ which extends back to the way we raise our girls and the way we teach them to navigate their world. Because of this 'curse', girls are socialised into a passive mindset and learn to say sorry when they believe they might be overstepping the line, coming off too strongly, or sense backlash and being called ‘pushy,’ ‘stubborn,’ ‘moody’ or ‘highly strung’ well into adulthood.
The danger of being apologetic. Saying sorry is not a bad thing when used to show empathy, admit wrongdoing, or to make amends with someone. However, over-apologising is dangerous and incredibly limiting. When girls are conditioned to apologise for everything they do, they do not have the opportunity to develop self-confidence and vocalise their ideas and opinions. Thus, girls might not value their own opinion, and therefore do not bother expressing it. It is no wonder that findings reveal women lack the confidence to lead social change, even if they have a strong desire to do so. This is detrimental to a woman’s outlook upon herself and is something we continually challenge at Toorak College.
It's time to stop saying sorry! It’s time for our girls to be ‘fearless’ and ‘speak up’. It’s time we teach our girls to be unapologetically themselves and more than just delicate, obedient young women. We must teach girls the value of their voices and their presence, and that they should not apologise for being strong, powerful and bold.
We must allow girls to have freedom to express their thoughts, beliefs, ideas, creativity and opinions in any environment. At Toorak College, we aim to reshape the perception of how girls view themselves in order for them to truly capitalise on their potential. We provide a safe environment for them to find and use their voice and to be ambitious, follow their dreams and find their place within the world.
Principal Mrs Kendall says, “We do not aim to replicate the world. We aim to challenge it. The opportunities at Toorak allow every girl to ignite their interests, spread their wings, and shape their future. Our girls learn to take every opportunity and do so unapologetically.”
Final thoughts. Brené Brown, psychologist and author of Daring Greatly, says, “courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” Already in 2020, women are making themselves seen, heard, and listened to by projecting their voices, passions, and beliefs into the world through strong advocacy and leadership.
Together, we must encourage girls not to be afraid to stand out from the crowd and that being strong and bold is, in fact, admirable. We must trade our labels of bossiness for assertiveness, self-obsession for confidence, opinionated for passionate, blunt for direct, and saying sorry for being unapologetic in who we are!
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