Men Don’t Apologize

** p.s. on Jan. 20/14: just saw a neat Harriet Lerner article about apologies. Must-read!! *******

For some reason this phrase popped into my head this morning. It just seems … true. (Although it ought to go without saying that there are exceptions to every “rule,” & also that there are clearly also some women who don’t apologize…of course!)

A couple of recent experiences have brought this to the fore. Details not the slightest bit important.

Men & the lack of apologies are all tied in with patriarchy (in my opinion).

We’ve lived in a patriarchal culture for 5000 years (according to the “experts”) – & while many, many, many strides have been made by & for women in the past, oh, 40 or 50 years, you don’t wipe out an overwhelming, overarching system like patriarchy in a few short decades. If only!

After being told for generation upon generation that men are better than women – smarter than women – & ought to be & are in charge of everything on Earth – & after untold generations of war & male mistreatment of women & children (still ongoing today, of course, to greater & lesser degrees depending on the geography involved), male privilege & entitlement are very deeply ingrained indeed.

I know men who (still) clearly act as though they know everything about everything…& who are more than ready to pronounce (ostensibly knowledgably) on subjects about which they actually know absolutely nothing. Even when you put inconvenient facts & truths right in front of them, they outright refuse to see the noses right in front of their faces.

It’s pretty astonishing to witness this!

(Now me, of course, I’d have been burned at the stake lickety-split in the old, old days, for being so darn “uppity.” So would many of the women I know & love best. We are a feisty bunch, & feistiness has not always been greatly valued … in women.)

Well. So. Back to apologies, eh?

If you’re from the so-called “superior” sex – & you’re assumed to know absolutely everything about absolutely everything (even though this is quite clearly impossible for ANYone on the planet, whatever one’s gender), & this has been burned into your consciousness from the day you were born (even though you might not be consciously aware of it), I guess it’s pretty darn hard to admit that there is something you don’t know, or might be wrong about, & should perhaps consider apologizing for.

I guess the men who are constitutionally incapable of allowing apologies to cross their lips haven’t ever heard these lovely words from Margaret Lee Runbeck:

“Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift.”


There’s a man (or two) I feel could stand to offer me an apology (or two) for a thing (or two) he/they have done or said (& please know that I am quick to offer apologies myself when I screw up, which happens plenty, or I wouldn’t dare expect others to do so!) – but I’m not exactly holding my breath on hearing those lovely words “I’m sorry for that shitty stuff I did/said” because I know quite well by now that … men don’t apologize!


p.s. Of course, some men DO apologize, & thanks to the Universe for that!!! Some men are big enough to say those important words “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong” – thank goodness!! And trust me, I am not remotely interested in seeing men being emasculated. One does not have a ton of respect for men who are doormats. Heck, one doesn’t respect people of either sex who have become doormats. Compassion for them? Sure. But not respect. (Making apologies does not make one less of a man – or woman, for that matter… It makes one more of one.)

p.p.s. Couple of relevant book recommendations that spring to mind: The Chalice and the Blade – Our History, Our Future, by Riane Eisler. Becoming the Kind Father – A Son’s Journey, by Calvin Sandborn. Even the book I am currently reading, My Life So Far, by Jane Fonda, has a lot of very interesting stuff in it about female/male dynamics & the wheres & whyfors of war & some ways in which some of this old, awful stuff can be laid to rest. Ms. Fonda has had a fascinating (& inspiring!) life…& there are lots of great quotations in her book, too!!

p.p.p.s. Several months after I posted this, I posted an item called 'Men: 12 Things I've Learned.'

p.s. # 4: 6 months after posting this. Well hooey!! One of the men referred to as possibly owing me an apology, actually apologized to me. Change is always possible, isn't it???

p.s. # 5: (2 years after posting this!?) I've recently experienced encounters with an increasing # of women who are not very quick to offer apologies. I guess the sexes are becoming more "equal." Why is it this particular development (i.e., regarding apologies) is not making me feel happy about so-called "equality"??

p.s. # 6: see the note at top about the Harriet Lerner item. Really worth seeing!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “A clear conscience is more valuable than wealth.” – Filipino proverb

Runners-up for quote of the day:

“Revenge has no more quenching effect on emotions than salt water has on thirst.” – Walter Weckler

“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” – James Baldwin

“Anger is often more harmful than the injury that caused it.” – English proverb

“Holding onto a resentment is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” – Anne Lamott in Crooked Little Heart