Lena Dunham Is Done Saying 'Sorry,' Credits Beyonce: 'Apologizing Is a Modern Plague'
By Antoinette Bueno
Lena Dunham is done with meaningless apologizing ... especially when it comes to the workplace.
The 30-year-old Girls creator wrote an essay titled "Sorry Not Sorry" for LinkedIn, in which she calls out both herself and other women's tendencies to constantly say sorry even when the situation doesn't warrant it. And joining the long list of celebs inspired by Beyonce, Dunham is praising the "Sorry" singer for her feminist themes in Lemonade.
"Beyonce's Lemonade was a massive cultural event for a lot of profound reasons, not least of which because it gave women a melody to which they could sing the words 'Sorry, I ain't sorry,' again and again (and again)," Dunham writes, referring to the track that also gave us the infamous line, "You better call Becky with the good hair." "This refrain immediately became the stuff of Instagram captions and yearbook quotes and screaming, drunken bachelorette parties: partially because it's catchy as f*ck, but also because it allowed women to express (safely, while pretending with all their might to be Bey) just how sick to death they were of apologizing."
"Apologizing is a modern plague and I'd be willing to bet .... that many women utter 'I'm sorry' more on a given day than 'Thank You' and 'You're Welcome' combined," she adds.
Dunham herself isn't immune, especially when she became the boss of her own HBO show six years ago.
"It's hard for many of us to own our power, but as a 24-year-old woman I felt an acute and dangerous mix of total confidence and the worst imposter syndrome imaginable," she admits. "I had men more than twice my age for whom I was the final word on the set of Girls, and I had to express my needs and desires clearly to a slew of lawyers, agents and writers. And while my commitment to my work overrode almost any performance anxiety I had, it didn't override my hardwired instinct to apologize. If I changed my mind, if someone disagreed with me, even if someone else misheard me or made a mistake... I was so, so sorry."
It wasn't until her father gave her a challenge -- to spend a week not apologizing -- that a breakthrough happened.
"But what do you replace sorry with? Well for starters, you can replace it with an actual expression of your needs and desires," she writes.
Dunham says she values "real" apologies – those owning their mistakes and showing that they will do better in the future -- just not the more common "reflex sorries" of day to day life.
"When I replaced apologies with more fully formed and honest sentiments, a world of communication possibilities opened up to me," she stresses, before joking, "I'm just sorry it took me so long."
Last October, Jennifer Lawrence expressed similar sentiments about problems women face in the workplace when she wrote her own essay for Dunham's Lenny newsletter, in which she responded to the leaked news that she was paid much less than her American Hustle male co-stars. Lawrence admitted that wanted to remain likable on set and while negotiating, but acknowledged that this attitude needed to change.
"I didn’t want to seem 'difficult' or 'spoiled,'" Lawrence explained. "At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being 'difficult' or 'spoiled.'"