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While obviously I believe in gender equality, I also believe that there are differences between the sexes. One of the major ways in which men

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Today in Sex: "Sorry" IS the Hardest Word

thomas2.jpg
While obviously I believe in gender equality, I also believe that there are differences between the sexes. One of the major ways in which men and women differ is in the way we process apologies. As in, I've always felt that women are better at apologizing than men are. There, I said it. However, according to two recent studies reported about in the Wall Street Journal, "men are just as willing as women to apologize if they think they've done something wrong."

Say what? Not any man I've ever known. With most of you guys, waiting for an apology is much like waiting for a candy-colored unicorn to deliver me a basket full of silk undergarments and fifty-dollar bills.

I read on. Turns out there's a catch. According to the first study, while men are just as likely to say they're sorry, they have a different idea about what constitutes an apology-worthy offense. Ah, that makes perfect sense: you guys are perfectly willing to apologize when you're wrong—you're just never wrong.

Bwah ha ha ha!!!

Which illustrates what Elizabeth Bernstein, the author of the WSJ piece, calls "the apology gap" between men and women. Perhaps not surprisingly Bernstein found very few men willing to speak on the record about their own mea culpas.

"Apologize? What language is that?" scoffed one jokester. One of the few who was willing to be publicly identified confessed to buying his wife expensive gifts when he screwed up. "Nothing says 'I'm sorry' like Christian Dior," said the 47-year-old real estate broker.

He must really be up to something shady if she gets designer shwag—I'm lucky if I get deli flowers or a Kit Kat.

Karina Schumann, one of the authors of the second study went more into detail about the differences between male and female apologies, "We don't think that women are too sensitive or that men are insensitive. . . We just know that women are more sensitive."

Sensitive? Moi? I did my best to not be offended by this gross generalization (Schumann, you owe me an apology), but then I glanced up at the news and noticed that Clarence Thomas's wife called Anita Hill this week, looking for an apology. An apology for what, exactly? For being offended that Clarence the Leghumper sexually harassed her? For calling this "good Christian moralist" out on his egregious pervo behavior? That's hardly the kind of sensitive behavior we ladies are known for.

Happily, Ms. Hill did not take the bait, nor even laugh hysterically in Mrs. Thomas's face. Instead, she took the high road. "I appreciate that no offense was intended, but she can't ask for an apology without suggesting that I did something wrong, and that is offensive," Ms. Hill said.

And for that—I don't think anyone will call me oversensitive—Mrs. Thomas owes Ms. Hill (and every other woman in America) an apology.

 
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