Friday, January 09, 2009

Social Conditioning

I've struggled for years with how to reply when Em says "I'm sorry" when she is neither responsible nor sorry.

It's a sort of cringing behavior that infuriates me. What is it about someone cringing that makes me want to hit them?

These are the responses i have tried;
- I'm sorry too.
-You should be.
-stop apologizing, it's not your fault.
-thank you for your concern.

The trouble with these is that they all came out sounding either sarcastic, annoyed, or both. (Probably because i was annoyed.)

It is Em herself who gave me the answer.

She told us about a study she learned about that says women apologize far more often than men. Apparently it's some cultural conditioning thing. Nothing gets to Em more than having to consider herself a result of cultural conditioning.

So my new response to an inappropriate "I'm sorry," is "Don't be such a female!"

We'll see if it works.

This post was inspired by a discussion between
Maggie and Egan.


Brad said...

I'm sorry.

The Real Mother Hen said...

Interesting. Indeed women apologize more, Asian women even worse.

So the moral of the story is, don't be a woman, and don't be Asian.

I'm double cursed. Bummer.

Marshamlow said...

My whole life I have been criticied for saying I'm sorry too much. For me I think it is a miscomunication of meaning, I am meaning to say something like, I feel so bad for you, hearing your story is breaking my heart...Like when you tell someone you are sorry for their loss, you don't mean I killed your grandma sorry. I am trying to teach myself to say geez that sucks, instead of I'm sorry. I just don't understand why it is such a big deal. Can't I'm sorry have two meanings?

flutter said...

how about "your apology and a kick in the ass would get me to Dallas"

I have no idea what it means, but my grandmother used to say it all the time

meno said...

brad, smart ass!

mother hen, i'm sorry you're female and asian.

marsha, i'm sorry can have many meanings. Sometimes it just means "i'm sorry." And that's ok. It's when it doesn't mean "i'm sorry" that i don't like it.

flutter, i like your grandmother.

Em said...

Don't be such a female? Is that sort of the same as "grow a pair"? LOL

Anonymous said...

I like it.

TTQ said...

Why do people say I'm sorry when they hear you lost a parent when you were growing up? I just reply it's ok, you didn't do it. Or did you?

Mrs. Chili said...

Let me know how that goes, wouldja? I've got a friend who apologizes for EVERYTHING (she blames her mother...) and I'm trying to get her to stop...

Jonas said...

Why dontcha just whack her upside the head?

I'm sorry.

lu said...

It's all qualifying - or pussy footing, or waivering, or somethinging. At work with a friend who shares this habit we reached a new low in the habitual apology when we both apologized for apologizing.

We be dorks. Men do it too, they just use different words, like, I'm just sayin... or but that's just me...

Lynnea said...

yeah. I'm one of those habitual offenders, which is why I brought it up. I hear myself saying it and think, "geez not again". I'm hoping to grow some cahones this year and only say what I mean. That and maybe have more sex.

Dick said...

So women apologize more than men do? I'd better be careful here what I say- I can think of a pretty obvious reason but I think I'd get nailed to something around here. Pat would do it if she ever read it without anyone else having to do the deed. I'd better be careful. I'm sorry I brought the subject up. Oh wait, you did. Okay. I'll shut up now.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

I used to do this, too. And it drove my mother crazy, too.

I love the response! I am going to use that from now on!

Vanessa said...

I used to say "I'm sorry" too much as well. A friend stopped me one day and asked "are you sorry or are you saying you apologize?" She then went on to differentiate between sorry(meaning worthless) and apologize. It's made me stop and think more before offering either in situations. I still take responsibility for my actions, but more often than not say "I apologize".

tt said...

Oh geez....More guilt to heap upon me.
Interestingly enough....I've had this same thought go through my head lately. Why do we do that??!!
I do like Flutters answer to it though.
Sorry I'm rambling.......

Anonymous said...

I've noticed that men seldom say they're sorry, not for big things or for little things. I was swimming one day and some guy bangs into me twice, I said sorry, he just went on his way. I don't like social conditioning I decided.

luckyzmom said...

I have been known to respond to people who say sorry when they are merely walking past me, by asking, "what did you do."
Still I probably say sorry too often, but I don't want balls. I hadn't thought about it in the context of thinking myself a sorry human being. So, thanks for bringing this up. I will try to wish I hadn't done that, rather I hadn't said that, be empathetic to your circumstances, that was not what I meant or just say oops. "Love means never having to say your sorry." Sorry, I couldn't help myself!

Clowncar said...

I don't think of "I'm sorry" as an expression of responsibility, just sympathy. As in, I'm sorry you went through that.

And I've got to tell you, I met my first blogger in person this weekend and remembered your words about how it's like previewing your friends before you meet them. What fun!

Anonymous said...

Here in the south (southern culture on the skids), everyone apologizes for everything. "I'm sorry" is almost as common as "Hello, how are you?"

To the point where, basically, it has totally lost any meaning and is just one more useless and out dated social nicety.

meno said...

em, hmm, not really, but similar.

de, feel free to use it. The cool thing is that it came from her!

ttq, that seems like an okay "i'm sorry" as in, "i'm sorry to hear that." And no, i didn't do it.

mrs. chili, i will let you know. As an exercise, try to figure out what she really means. I've figured out that when my husband says it, sometimes he means "stop complaining."

jonas, ha! That sounds like you are from the "I'll give you something to be sorry about" school of child rearing.

lu, i've tried to define what she really means, i think pussy-footing is as good an explanation as any.

maggie, i hope so. You's look cute with balls. :)

dick, you're on shaky ground here buddy! :)

cagey, first they need to know about the study. Or maybe it's self-explanatory.

tt, i'm sorry! :)

deb, yeah, it's sort of a pecking order thing, which is not a comfortable thought.

clowncar, sometimes it's okay to say, really, but sometimes it's just annoying. I'm so glad you met a blogger! It's an interesting thing to know so much about people before you meet them in person.

poe, well. bless your heart! (Another southernism i've recently learned.)

egan said...

I'm glad I saw the citation at the bottom or else I would have likely typed the same stuff I mentioned on Maggie's blog.

Now I find myself saying it after every bad pass I make in soccer. That pisses me off. It won't happen again.

The expression sure does resonate given the situation.

sari said...

My husband has finally (mostly) cured me of that. I would apologize for everything, fault of mine or not, until I was practically blue in the face.

I don't know why. But it feels SO GOOD not to apologize for everything anymore. It really does.

crazymumma said...

Oh my gawd thank you for this! My elder apologizes all the time for NOTHING! And I was jsut speaking with a friend the other day about he sexism of apology.