Who's Sorry Now
A great read by Bella Sander, free-lance writerReading Under the Covers: Who's Sorry Now
A quick excerpt:
"We're sorry for our opinions, and sorry for not being qualified to voice them. Because, of course, we're never smart enough, or accomplished enough, or important enough. "
I have written about this before, in the context of leading the prayers in the mosque, and how this feeling of inadequacy was one of the things that convinced me I had to lead the prayers, no apologies, no sorry I'm not better qualified (cause, honestly, I'm more qualified than half the men who give khutbahs in America). I'm a feminist, I argue all the time for women's equal worth and equal access, I have an appropriate education and public speaking experience, if I had doubts about my abilities, how then could I expect someone else to stand up and take the lead? The very fact that I felt insecure about my own capabilities meant I needed to do this.
Still, the very fact that I -- eduated at Dartmouth and Harvard, a frequent public speaker at universities and churches, and a decent writer -- would feel somehow inadequate was (and remains) baffling. My rational evaluation of myself clearly did not match my emotional evaluation. I've always put it down to the fact that I had a dad with very, very high expectations. But it seems, my feelings are not unique to my family situation, but rather reflective of our culture in general.
It's a travesty that so many women feel as though they are fakes, frauds, that they have to apologize for themselves, for their opinions, for their very existance practically.
I wonder why it is that so many American, feminist (or at least products of the feminist revolution if not actively identifying as feminists), professional, highly intelligent, highly educated, highly qualified women feel as though, at any moment, some child is going to shout out, "but the princess isn't wearing any clothes!" And the crowd, rather than laughing at the child's joke, is going to gasp in realization that s/he's right.
The self-esteem movement has fallen into disrepute. (As well it should, with its tendency to eliminate competition, give trohpies to both the winners and losers, and overdo praise in order to ensure no child's self-esteem is ever damaged...with the result that children have become adept at devaluing participation ribbons and have learned to distinguish when praise is deserved and when it is bs). But the women in this article aren't children being forcefed good feelings about themselves whether they are merited or not. Instead, they are accomplished women, professionals, authors, often highly educated. In short they are women who should have good self-esteem, but who for some reason suffer from a disproportionate self-image, a self-esteem that is inappropriately low.
The ramifications of low self-esteem range from the ubiquitous "I'm sorry" that the article talks about, to women negotiating less aggressively for salaries, resulting in major pay discrepancies between themselves and equally qualified men in the same job. (see the full story here
) While there are clearly other factors involved, the lack of self-promotion due to self-doubt has got to be considered a significant factor in career success.
Not to mention personal happiness. No one wants to feel like their daily life mirrors that nightmare where you wake up to realize you have a huge exam you forgot to study for, or you are sitting in your bed in the middle of math class, totally naked. I wonder if men go about life feeling that way. Somehow I doubt it. Unfortunately, it seems many, many women do.