I asked women to tell me about a time a man apologised to them. Genuinely, taking responsibility for his actions/words, acknowledging damage done.
I received one story about an apology followed by remedying the situation. Another spoke about apologies becoming excuses to turn the blame onto her. One spoke of a true apology that nevertheless saw a repeat of the bad behaviour later, followed by more apologies. One said she couldn’t remember but she was sure she knew some men. If it’s so hard to think of a case, doesn’t it mean it’s too few and too little?
I received a lot of responses from women saying they had NEVER received an apology from a man and did not believe them capable of it. Which is what I want to focus on because that is the majority.
When I watched the film Thappad, I kept thinking “He didn’t apologise.” Not once. Yes, he’s a nice guy. Yes, he doesn’t do this all the time. But he did it that once and he never apologized. Everybody around colludes in ensuring he never has to. So the victim has no choice but to resort to the extreme of divorce.
Was it too much? Perhaps. Who is to blame? The person taking the action? Everyone who left them no choice? Or the person who created the issue in the first place who has still not taken action?
You cannot grant forgiveness to someone who isn’t sorry. And when forgiveness is demanded, it makes it hard to feel even empathy. An insult becomes exploitation.
Ever heard “Angrez chale gaye, sorry chod gaye”? Notice how it’s only used when uppercaste, wealthy men are called to account? Sorry is just a word in one language. But taking responsibility for oneself is universal to the act of being human.
We need to normalise men saying sorry. So many women lace their speech with “Sorry but…” apologising for existing, that it is a trope now. And so few men have apologised in their lives that most women can’t even remember a single instance. How is love, trust or respect to happen without it?
The test of a man is his willingness to take responsibility especially in a world that tells him he doesn’t have to.