Opinionated- it’s a word that has always seemed to find its way to me. Never have I, nor never will I ever use the word to describe myself or any other person. I mean, we all have opinions, right? Who doesn’t have any opinions? It would be absurd for a person to withdraw themselves from having viewpoints, so why do we often label people (typically women) as opinionated?
This annoyance has plagued me throughout my entire childhood into teenhood, and unfortunately, it has resurfaced into my early adulthood. Last week, a very dear old friend sent my old high school friend group a message. It was a little odd and unexpected, but very sincere and heartfelt. The sender of this message directly appealed to each recipient by naming some of the things she had missed/admired about us (no jaw dropping confessions since we have all been friends for over 10 years and know everything there is to know about one another). The sender missed Sydney for the fact that Sydney is a “selfless woman” and Emily because she is “so caring and genuine.” The portion dedicated to me began with compliments like “passionate and inspiring,” which made me smile. It reminded me how powerful it can be to spread positive words to those around you. However, the section ended like this: “You aren’t afraid to voice your opinion.” What does that even mean?
To reiterate, the group message was intended to be light and sweet. I ascertain that. BUT, here I am again, being dubbed the opinionated one. Whether words like this were offered as praise or hurled as insults, I’ve always been characterized as some type of three-headed monster- bossy, fiery, passionate, shouty, intense, opinionated. I start to wonder, is this adjective ever applied to men? Are men allowed to have opinions about things? I’m pretty sure they do, as everyone should.
In lieu of the fucked up state of our country’s leadership, it’s easy to engage in political debate everyday, with friends, family members, crude boys from high school, even strangers on the internet. Understandably, everyone seeks to voice their opinion. Yet, I tend to steer clear of this form of debate due to my boy friend telling me to ignore Facebook, or stop watching the video. My own mother advises me to stop reading news and posts that “upset me.” Mom has kicked me under the table during multiple family dinners when my grandpa has started to quote the only trustworthy news source, Fox News. Don’t, her eyes warn me. I listen.
I’ve gotten to a point where I feel as if I’m going to explode. I know so many others do, too. Since the start of spring break I haven’t been shying away from expressing my opinions as much. In fact, I haven’t turned a conversation away as long as I have something meaningful to say. Of course, I’m staying in check with my facts and feelings, because we all know the ugly form that hate speech and baseless allegations assume. Nevertheless, I say fuck it. Be bossy, fiery, passionate, shouty, intense and especially opinionated. If there was ever a time to scream, it’s now. Just scream with purpose.
Emptying these built up frustrations and addressing repressive words such as opinionated has really liberated me. I wrote more this past week than ever before. It’s cathartic. To conclude this post I want to share a speech from the SAG awards that reminds me to stay opinionated. Stay involved and don’t surrender because someone believes that you should disengage. Here, David Harbour delivers an emotional, electrifying call to arms. He cuts loose and speaks what’s on his mind, and my mind. Though we should heed him figuratively and not literally, I’m ready to punch some nazis in the face.
Also Winona Ryder’s exhilarated facial expressions are worth the watch alone.