“I’m sorry that we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country.”- Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton’s concession speech was painful. Her loss was painful for all of us who supported her and were hopeful that she would become the first woman president. Those dreams were shattered by a surprising defeat by Donald Trump. After more than 24 hours of sobbing and denial, it is finally sinking in.
What surprised me the most about her speech was how she started it. Why did she have to start with “I’m sorry?” She has nothing to be sorry about. Only a woman would say sorry for being rejected. Only women have this bad habit of apologizing for things they are not responsible for. This is because to some degree we are held accountable for things that are beyond our control. I’m often guilty of it myself and need to make a conscious effort not to apologize.
After all the progress Clinton achieved through her remarkable 30 years of public service, from being Secretary of State to shattering the glass ceiling as the first female presidential candidate, she was compelled to apologize. Women ask for forgiveness more than men, whether it is for giving an opinion, asking for a raise or requesting a meeting or just wanting extra milk in our coffee.
Sorry is a crutch we carry because we are afraid of offending someone or being perceived as not likeable.
I thought that as we got older, wiser and more confident in our careers, we would stop apologizing. A man surely wouldn’t apologize in the same scenarios. Did Trump apologize to all the Latinos he insulted? Did he apologize to the Muslims? Did he apologize to the gold star Kahn family or the reporter with disabilities? No he didn’t.
There is a sexist double standard. Trump’s win demonstrates what all women have experienced at some point in our career – a woman can work twice as hard as a man, be smarter, better prepared, and be more qualified and at the end of the day, the mediocre or the unqualified candidate will get the job. And will get paid more.
Clinton was held to higher standard than Trump. Period. She was judged for wearing the wrong pantsuit. Not smiling enough. Smiling too much. Not being charismatic or authentic enough. She was deemed “unrelatable.” She was criticized for taking some time to rest over the weekend. She was mocked for being too prepared for a debate. The “nasty woman” couldn’t catch a break.
And yet, it was Clinton who apologized and had to justify her loss. I think many owe her an apology, women in particular owe her an apology. Sometimes we are our toughest critics.
This needs to change and we learn from this devastating loss. We need to figure out how to “lean in” more and be each other’s cheerleader. We also need to stop apologizing and borrow a page from Beyoncé’s playbook – “I ain’t sorry.” The last thing I want is for my 11-year-old daughter to pick up the “sorry” habit.
Clinton said it best: "To all the women and especially the young women who put their faith in this campaign and in me, I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion.”
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