Abstract

abstract:

Every social order depends on a pathway to atonement for those who breach behavioral expectations. However, observers from a variety of fields now agree that the United States has entered an age of non-apology, where the two words "I'm sorry" simply cannot be said, particularly by powerful men facing allegations of sexual misconduct. This essay draws attention to, and comments upon, this trend. We first identify the sociopolitical factors that have inaugurated the era of nonapology, namely growing political polarization. We then explain the consequences of this shift in societal expectations surrounding apology. This state of affairs, which associates genuine apology with emasculation and defeat, is harmful: it foments a toxic culture that will not allow redress for survivors of sexual assault and harassment; and it provides no answers to complex questions of how society can address the guilt of those who engage in sexual misconduct.

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