Hillary Clinton, the first female major party nominee for POTUS, has apologized many times.
She apologized during her campaign, while her shameless, apology-resistant opponent stood on a stage and bragged that he could shoot someone and not lose voters.
She apologized for using a private email server, despite the fact men have done the same thing and it’s been NBD. “That was a mistake. I’m sorry about that. I take responsibility.”
She admitted fault for voting to invade Iraq in 2002, something 77% of the senators (and 58% of Senate Democrats) did. “I wasn’t alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple.”
She expressed regret over her "basket of deplorables" comments; in retrospect, she probably shouldn’t have bothered. “Last night I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that's never a good idea. I regret saying ‘half’ — that was wrong."
And Hillary Clinton was the first candidate ever to apologize in a concession speech. “I’m sorry,” she said, on what was no doubt one of the darkest days (and there have been many) of her life. “This is not the outcome that we wanted or we worked so hard for, and I am sorry that we did not win this election.”
But most gut-wrenching of all is the new revelation that on November 8, straight after getting off the phone to Trump, she called Barack Obama, the man who had beaten her 8 years earlier and whom she had served loyally ever since, to apologize for not winning the race she so desperately wanted to win. It’s clear she was apologizing for not being able to protect his legacy. She worked her ass off, she offered herself earnestly to the American people, and then she asked forgiveness for being rejected (by the Electoral College, not the popular vote).
Can you envisage John McCain calling up George W. Bush on November 4, 2008 to apologize for losing? Or Al Gore to Bill Clinton, when he finally conceded to Bush on December 13, 2000? Both of these men lost their party the White House (a fairly standard occurrence after an eight-year term). Did they ever think to apologize for not being good enough, likable enough? I can’t imagine they did.
Many expected Clinton to be Obama 3.0, and the GOP certainly loved to paint it that way (they clung to the talking point that she was “running for Obama’s third term”). If the election was as much a referendum on Obama as it was an appraisal of Clinton, then he owed her as much of an apology as she did him (which is still probably nil).
Saying “sorry” has come to be associated with women, with good reason. Research shows women are especially apology-prone, whether or not they are at fault. We apologize to each other, to men, to people who spill things on us, to people of whom we are making reasonable requests. Amy Schumer brilliantly parodied this feminine tendency in her skit “I’m sorry,” in which a panel of impressive women constantly apologize for things that are not at all their fault.
Gender linguist Deborah Tannen says men see apologizing as admitting defeat, submitting, “taking a one-down position,” and are unwilling to do so unless absolutely necessary. Women, on the other hand, are socialized to think they should submit, should atone, should self-flagellate, in order to remain likable and non-threatening. There has been an informal campaign among women in recent years to notice when it's happening and stop doing it so damn much.
And yet Bernie Bros are still demanding apologies from Clinton for her loss, despite the fact no one ever asked Sanders for one. Conservatives demanded she apologize for Benghazi, long after the congressional report found no evidence of fault.
I am so sick of people asking this woman to apologize, when she already has more than any man ever would in her position.
Hillary Clinton does not need to say sorry. She shouldn't be sorry FOR America being more sexist and racist than she anticipated.
But we should all be sorry THAT it is.
Screenshot from Hillary Clinton's Concession Speech. All other images via Wikipedia Commons.
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