THE BLOG

Stop Apologising For Your Opinions

08/03/2017 12:33 GMT | Updated 08/03/2017 12:33 GMT
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all women everywhere

Very sorry to interrupt, but I just wanted to say, if you don't mind, something about women and how we present our opinions. Please ignore anything below if it is irrelevant or not what you had in mind to read today, I don't really know what I'm talking about.

Does any of that sound remotely familiar? These are the bizarre phrases in which I have been couching my ideas, opinions and feedback in the workplace - and general life, for that matter - for quite some time. It wasn't until a female colleague astutely pointed out that I should stop apologising for presenting my opinion (which she had specifically asked for), that I even realised I had been doing it. Her reason to stop apologising away my view was simple yet profound: it is something that men never do.

Why is it that women feel they have to preface anything they say with an apology or words that effect a diminution of their importance? I grew up with a strong, independent mother who believed I could achieve anything I set my mind to, and told me so regularly. Not in spite of being a woman, but precisely because I am a woman. I was so lucky to have in her an exceptional role model, setting example after example upon which I slowly built a worldview of female worth, equality and overwhelming resilience. I certainly never saw her apologise for her opinions, and she'd be shocked to see that I was doing so now.

Are we saying sorry in anticipation of our very worthwhile remarks potentially roughing up someone's ego? Probably. We try to reduce the effect of our words by negating them before they've even left our lips, or fingertips, as the case may be. We try to soften the blow of our opinions by shrouding them in the types of phrases I started this post with, 'sorrys' and 'please ignores' and many more unfathomably undermining expressions. This is inherently dangerous. Because, in so doing, we are inadvertently perpetuating a narrative of female inadequacy, begotton by a long, unfortunate history of social, political and economic patriarchal supremacy. It is an enduring narrative that needs no help from women to persist.

So this is something women everywhere must stop doing. For ourselves, for our daughters, and for many generations of women to come. There are plenty of lesser-qualified men who are overzealous in their self-belief and opinions, even God-like in their convictions. But let's not knock them for their unsubstantiated cockiness, let's take the baton. It's certainly our turn.

This International Women's Day, make a vow to do something small: deliver your opinions and ideas as if they really matter, because they do. I am so grateful to my colleague for pointing out this appalling mode of communicating ideas that I and many other females have adopted, falling in line with a stunted gender ideology. For me at least, it ends here.

Women are intelligent, emotionally insightful, intuitive beings and we can harness these attributes to work in our favour. We need to say what we mean with the assertiveness women everywhere deserve. Presenting our thoughts in any other way is an injustice to our struggle for true equality and the ongoing fight to be heard in the same way, and on the same platforms, as men.

What we say matters, what we do matters. We are women, hear us roar.

HuffPost UK is running a month-long project in March called All Women Everywhere, providing a platform to reflect the diverse mix of female experience and voices in Britain today

Through blogs, features and video, we'll be exploring the issues facing women specific to their age, ethnicity, social status, sexuality and gender identity. If you'd like to blog on our platform around these topics, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com