“Opinions are like a#%holes. Everybody’s got one.”
“The greatest deception men suffer from is their own opinions.”
Having an opinion lately feels like having a gun at a child’s birthday party.
“What the hell are you thinking? Get that thing out of here.”
I am opinionated. If I feel strongly about a subject, I like to express my feelings (in the proper setting and context) with fervour, cartoonish facial expressions and humour. I always have.
This works for me as a writer and comedian, since I’m often taught having a viewpoint is essential to creativity.
But as a human person, my earnest thoughts and principles have been met with roadblocks. I’m criticized for being “too opinionated,” and one friend even suggested my expressed views are “the reason I’m still single.”
And I can’t help but feel utterly betrayed. Thinking back to my time in school, every essay, every exam question seemed to begin with “In your opinion…”
We spend decades learning to express what we’ve studied and to verbalize our interpretations. If executed well, we’re praised and rewarded.
This led me to believe having opinions was the mark of an intelligent, confident person. That is, apparently, until I left those hallowed halls, when it became the mark of an insufferable verbal tyrant.
But are all opinions bad?
The opinion of a foul-mouthed internet troll lambasting a pop star for their recent weight gain is generally considered a meritless opinion.
An ignorant opinion would be just as empty, like Uncle Ned (who hasn’t read a newspaper in 30 years) saying, “They should just all go back to Syria.”
A bad opinion is an unshakable one. It’s a person stubbornly unwilling to alter their views even when faced with new facts.
The wrong kind of opinion is oppressive and demeaning: “I think this and you’re an idiot for thinking otherwise.”
But a well informed, thought-out opinion with room for other people’s opinions? How could that be met with eye rolls?
It pains me to wonder if this would even be an issue if I were a man. Bette Davis once said, “When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a b*#@h.”
In 2016, do we perhaps residually think opinions belong to men the same way some people believe humour does? (Ask me what I think about that after a glass of wine).
So what is the alternative? Being seen and not heard like a good little girl? I don’t even know what that looks like.
We all have opinions. You either liked the restaurant or you didn’t. You support the use of nuclear weapons or you don’t.
Having an opinion doesn’t automatically make you narrow-minded and obstinate. It’s all in how you frame and convey it.
A thoughtful opinion is just a place to start intelligent discourse or healthy debate. And that’s always a good thing.
If opinions are indeed like a#%holes, what the hell would your life be like if you didn’t have one?
Jane Testar is a writer and performer with the Winnipeg sketch comedy troupe, Hot Thespian Action, an improviser with local improv troupe, Outside Joke and the host of the CBC Comedy Factory Podcast.
Published in Volume 71, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 15, 2016)