Time to stop apologising says Joan Bakewell

(17 Posts)
grimbletart Thu 07-Jan-16 15:41:42

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/society/12085739/Trust-me-women-really-have-nothing-to-apologise-for.html

Couldn't agree more with her. So, I imagine will every woman who has ever said "I think", "Perhaps we could", "I was wondering" etc. Also, every woman who has, for even a few moments, suffered impostor syndrome.

I am only slightly younger than Joan and had similar experiences - in my case being laughed at for daring to think I could be a news editor or cover stories in danger zones (I did in fact do both) in spite of male efforts to squash me.

I was surprised though to see that some American women thought it was necessary to invent an app to encourage women to stop apologising. I'm in the UK and I haven't done the apologising thing for at least 30 odd years now, so was surprised to see that it was still thought necessary.

Have things changed so little? sad

thatstoast Thu 07-Jan-16 15:46:45

I think women do still feel the need to apologise for having opinions and taking up space. I don't have time to read at the moment so this is a slight place mark

MrsTerryPratchett Thu 07-Jan-16 17:08:22

This app to stop women apologising and weakening their language in emails.

I'm in two minds. The debate seems to be about whether women need to stop using 'soft' language or whether we shouldn't assume that male language is the default and stop telling women that to get ahead they need to be more like men.

Living in Canada, where everyone apologises ALL the time for everything, it is nicer (but hugely passive aggressive and wearing for plain-spoken little me).

Why isn't there an app for men to make their emails softer and more palatable?

MelindaMay Thu 07-Jan-16 17:28:17

It's always a double edged sword isn't it? I agree that women should feel confident enough in our opinions (which are just as likely to be sensible, useful and brilliant as male opinions) to express them plainly and without equivocation. But simply telling women to change our behaviour without expecting anything else to change is setting women up for discomfort, harsh judgement and problems of a different nature. The problem isn't women's ideas or women's language, it's male dominated society's unfair judgements on those things, right?

BombadierFritz Thu 07-Jan-16 17:39:37

Stupid women

If only they were more like men

hmm

grimbletart Thu 07-Jan-16 17:52:50

I don't assume male language is the default and do write 'soft' emails myself if necessary e.g. if I am dealing with someone vulnerable or has been in a horrible situation. But, for example, I wouldn't email someone and say "you stupid bugger or that's daft", I would merely say "I don't agree" and I wouldn't feel it necessary to say "I'm sorry but I don't agree", because let's face it unless I am genuinely sorry, it's meaningless and hypocritical. I won't use apologetic language where it is unnecessary. It devalues soft language when it is genuinely needed.

The time to use apologetic language is if you have done something wrong or made a mistake - not if you are simply stating your viewpoint.

ProjectPerfect Thu 07-Jan-16 17:57:09

I use apologetic language all the time in emails - it's my default and I hate that I do it, I have to consciously check myself.

PlonitbatPlonit Thu 07-Jan-16 18:01:19

This is a good blog on the subject of women being told off for how we speak. Maybe men should apologise more rather than women apologising less? debuk.wordpress.com/2015/12/30/crap-apps-and-female-email/

ProjectPerfect Thu 07-Jan-16 18:04:40

Similarly I am sick of men at work speaking to me in an unnecessarily aggressive/rude tone when they'd never use that approach with our male colleagues.

MelindaMay Thu 07-Jan-16 18:05:15

I don't tend to do it in writing, but I think I do in speech. But by the time I have noticed, it's already out there.

moonstruckl8 Thu 07-Jan-16 18:23:34

I use apologetic language all the time as the alternative is being seen as too uppity where I work. Which then sparks a reaction of 'you need to be put back in your place'. Conciliatory/diplomatic/- all the verbal gymnastics that my white male colleagues don't have to do in order to get through their day.

Theydontknowweknowtheyknow Thu 07-Jan-16 18:43:14

Being apologetic and conciliatory is often a diplomatic way of avoiding conflict or of getting the best out of someone without making them feel stupid or putting them on the defensive.

Sounds perfectly logical to me.

ProjectPerfect Thu 07-Jan-16 19:37:56

theydont I agree. For women

It is only women who are seen as courting conflict when they are not conciliatory. There is no such expectation on men. Which is the point.

Theydontknowweknowtheyknow Thu 07-Jan-16 19:41:57

So true Project. So true.

thatstoast Thu 07-Jan-16 21:41:24

It was actually quite a short piece, probably could've read it earlier!

The reviews of the app itself are quite poor but I like the concept. I will make an effort to use 'just' less in my work emails. Thinking about it I use it quite a lot and removing it makes requests sound so much stronger.

KatharinaRosalie Fri 15-Jan-16 12:34:21

This one was amusing: www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost/wp/2015/10/13/jennifer-lawrence-has-a-point-famous-quotes-the-way-a-woman-would-have-to-say-them-during-a-meeting/

My own experience (management level in a very male-dominated industry) was that yes I used the same apologetic, I'm no expert language. When something was sent for my review, I would write that 'I think it maybe would be a good idea to consider changing x to y.' This was seen as a suggestion that can be ignored.

Then I read some articles similar to ones linked here and thought that wait a minute, but I am an expert and that's what they pay me for, my opinion. And next time I wrote 'Change x to y'. It was done.

wickedwaterwitch Fri 15-Jan-16 12:44:19

I often go back and edit emails, taking out 'I'm sorry' (unless I genuinely am!) 'might be an idea' and other phrases like that.

I think we're expected to be apologetic and taught to be from quite a young age. Joan is right, time to stop it.

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