Why Can’t Men Just Say I’m Sorry?

Why Can’t Men Just Say I’m Sorry? (Sady Doyle)

Most women genuinely want to have good relationships with their male friends and colleagues. When someone presents himself as a “good,” feminist man, we want to believe it, because a life where you cannot trust half the planet is no life at all. Yet these unequal relationships—women with male friends, queer people with straight friends, people of color who socialize with white people—only work if the privileged party is willing to make themselves vulnerable and admit that there are things they don’t know. At the point where solidarity conflicts with self-interest, men routinely fall apart and blow up at women rather than admit they’ve made a mistake.

Hearing that you’ve messed up can be a way to understand the issues better, but only if you’re willing to learn from it. If someone close to you points out that you’ve said something sexist, you gain nothing by blowing up at them or calling them a liar. Only the hurt person knows for sure how damaging your comment was. You can shame that person, and thereby end or damage the relationship, or you can say you’re sorry. Even if you don’t fully comprehend how you hurt someone, the apology itself is an act of growth; it means you admit that your actions can have an impact you didn’t anticipate.

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