Sorry I’m Not Sorry: Why Women Need to Stop Apologizing for Taking Up Space

Britney Chapman
3 min readMay 26, 2021


Have you ever counted how many times you say the word “sorry” over the course of a day?

If you’re a woman, it’s probably a lot. You may not even realize how often you end up apologizing for someone else’s discomfort or confusion, when you have actually done nothing wrong. “Sorry” tends to be our automatic response in an awkward situation or when we sense the negative emotions of others. We try to mediate and apologize in order to restore a sense of balance and peace.

Are we really sorry? Typically not. But as women, we feel pressured to appear gentle, docile, and empathic. These characteristics are reinforced by the media, marketing, and religious and cultural teachings from our families. We’re taught that we’ll be rewarded for being passive and punished for being aggressive; saying “sorry” helps mitigate some of the wrath we may feel for stepping outside of our prescribed bounds.

But the truth is, we should not be saying “sorry” for disagreeing with a male colleague in a meeting. We should not be “sorry” when someone else bumps into us. We do not need to say “sorry” to our partners or friends when we express our needs and desires. We especially don’t need to be sorry when someone else hurts or mistreats us.

Think about it: how often do you hear men say “Sorry for interrupting, but do you think I could possibly share my perspective real quick?” Never. They just state their opinion (sometimes regardless of whether someone else is already speaking.) There is no prefacing, qualifying, or apologizing. So why do we as women feel we don’t have the same right to share our opinions and occupy space?

Well, hundreds of years of sexism and inequality is why. Even though women are legally equal to men (in the United States at least; I can’t speak for other countries that have oppressive restrictions on female behavior), sexism and inequality still exist. The remnants of our past are still apparent in the way we parent, educate, and the roles we play in relationships. Women are significantly underrepresented in business and government, preventing us from having the power and authority to truly affect change that would improve gender equality (think paid maternity leave, universal preschool, and equal pay). Despite improvements in the 20th century, we are still conditioned by a system of male privilege and superiority.

Hopefully this will change as a new generation of moms and dads begin to parent mindfully — not reinforcing stereotypes but allowing their daughters to explore a wide range of interests, personalities, and emotions. We’ll try to raise girls who are curious, strong, and vocal rather than cautious, quiet, and nice. We’ll permit them to speak their minds and encourage our girls to take up all the goddamn space they want.

And it starts with us. We need to model to our daughters that it is okay to shine — to speak our truth, to take chances, and to not spend our lives apologizing for the discomfort of others. To not be sorry for being who we are and feeling free to share that gift with the world.

This is how we break the cycle.

So, sorry that I’m not sorry — for speaking my mind, sharing my thoughts, and taking up space at this picnic table on which I’m writing. Don’t be sorry — be proud.



Britney Chapman

INFJ in love with the power of words. Black coffee, atmospheric music, and baggy sweaters.