Earlier this week, I stumbled upon a blog post written by a woman who said that, at the all-girls Orthodox day school she had attended, she was taught to never ask a question or make a comment without preceding it with an apology. Regrettably, I can no longer find that particular post, but similar sentiments are expressed by a blogger at Glamour.com.
While I was never specifically taught to apologize before asking a question or commenting on something, the behavior was undoubtedly ingrained in me during the time I lived with my father after my mother died. Back then, it seemed that each remark or question was an imposition and could potentially require an apology, so it was just best to start with one. The practice quickly spread to my social life. And nearly 12 years later, it still persists, although to a lesser degree.
It is only now, as I watch other women practice the same behavior, that I realize how much it undercuts what intelligent and inquisitive women have to contribute to conversations and debates. It instantly changes what a woman conveys, regardless of how articulate what she says after the apology might be, according to this article in the Wall Street Journal. The words and thoughts become less valid to the listener and over time, consciously or subconsciously, to the speaker as well.
Generations of women before us have worked tirelessly and shouted over the din to be heard. And now that the world is listening, we ought to speak up – sans apology.