Monday, April 6, 2015

On Sorry and Forgiveness

The point of this blog is of course to counter the impulse of women to constantly apologize for everything, including and especially our existence - an impulse given to us by our patriarchal society. But there's another thing that we women are expected to do without question, and that's to forgive.

When men say they're sorry, we're expected to instantly forgive them. Not just forgive, but to say that they shouldn't have even felt the need to apologize. What do you say to people when they say they're sorry to you? Do you say "it's okay"? Because that's what's been coming out of my mouth for about as long as I could speak.

What does "it's okay" mean? Doesn't it mean that whatever behavior the person is apologizing for is okay? In other words, that what they did is not bad, and therefore they don't even need to apologize, let alone stop doing what they're doing? Think about how you feel when someone apologizes to you. Do you feel a twinge of guilt that you made someone else feel bad enough to apologize, and now you want to make it better by telling them it's okay?

Doesn't this just perfectly fit the pattern of women being expected to cater to the every need of men?

Animated gif of Nicki Minaj raising her eyebrows and looking at someone off screen through the corners of her eyes before turning away.

And beyond that, people in general are expected to forgive pretty much instantly the moment an apology comes out of someone's mouth, regardless of how shitty it is. If you refuse to forgive, suddenly you're the asshole. Think of all the messages you've received about how important it is to "forgive and forget" and how forgiving people is soooooooo great for you. If you don't forgive, then you're just bitter, right? And nobody's bitter like women, right?

I'll never forget the first time someone told me that I don't actually have to forgive people who have wronged me in order to be an emotionally healthy person. I was shocked. But also incredibly relieved. Because there are people I don't want to forgive, and there are people whom I don't think it's a good idea to let my guard down around. Forgiveness implies that you trust someone again, and some people just should not be trusted.

So I want to spread the idea that not only should women stop being sorry, but we should stop recklessly forgiving people. Stop forgiving people who don't deserve it. Stop forgiving people who haven't changed. Stop saying "it's okay" when people apologize and say "I accept your apology" or, if you don't yet accept it, say "I hear you." Know that it's okay not to forgive, it's okay to hold off on forgiveness until you're ready or have conditions to your forgiveness.

One thing I've had to learn the hard way is that apologies can easily be completely meaningless. And I'm not just talking about the shitty "I'm sorry you feel that way" apologies. Apologies that are considered "good" apologies, that take responsibility and don't put any blame on the victim can be totally meaningless. I've had a man apologize to me again and again for the same behavior, yet never change. He would apologize for his behavior and go right on doing the same shit over and over. He wasn't sorry and he didn't deserve forgiveness. People are only really sorry if their behavior changes. Until then, they don't even deserve us considering the idea of forgiving them.

No more willy nilly forgiving. If someone wronged you, they should work for forgiveness. They should have to demonstrate that they understand and they should have to change their behavior before they can be eligible for forgiveness. I'm sick of being expected to be pleasant to friends and family members who've been shitty to me just because they said they're sorry - because I'm expected to cater to their feelings because they said two words. No. You're not forgiven. My needs come first. It's not my job to act pleasant toward you so that you no longer have to feel guilty about what you did. So that YOU can forget. Fuck that. You did wrong, you deal with the guilt. 

I'm not sorry and it's not okay.

No comments: