About a year ago, Pantene Shampoo’s “Not Sorry” ad hit the airwaves and several periodicals picked up the story: Fast Company. The Washington Post. Time. Just this past Tuesday, it came up again in The New York Times. Why do women apologize so much?
I’m wondering about this for women of faith: Do church ladies also apologize too much? Do clergywomen apologize too much?
Apologizing is not about confession. This is not about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev admitting his guilt yesterday.
Maybe “sorry” has simply become another way of saying “excuse me” – although I have been known to say, “I’m sorry” when somebody stepped on my foot or pushed me accidentally on the train.
Are we more or less likely to say “I’m sorry” in spiritual communities?
Female-on-female hostility exists in many of our congregations and there’s plenty of Biblical precedent for women treating each other harshly. Today – like always – female parishioners are much more likely to give clergywomen a hard time for countless complicated reasons.
But I don’t see women apologizing to each other over coffee hour misunderstandings or church meeting conflicts. I can’t remember a time when a parishioner who disrespected her female pastor in a way she would never have disrespected her male pastor apologized. (Maybe it’s assumed that clergywomen, by virtue of our office, are supposed to forgive and forget, even without acknowledgment of any wrongdoing.)
I wonder if spiritual communities really are different:
- Do clergywomen say “I’m sorry” less often on the job because We Are Called, and jumping through so many hoops to get to that pulpit has made us confident?
- Do we women who are active in spiritual communities acknowledge that we (humanly) lose our tempers, over-function, or gossip occasionally and then we gladly apologize to each other?
- Are we less likely to apologize to each other because confession and forgiveness are assumed? Or maybe we just don’t like conflict?
What’s been your experience – no matter what your gender – about saying “Sorry” in our congregations or doing ministry of any kind? Just wondering.