what do we gain from our opinions? i mean, we all have opinions. but rarely do we think about them in terms of what they do for us. we tend to consider them as somewhat removed from our actual selves – something we have, not something we are. that makes sense in a way, as opinions often change, and we’d rather think of that as a remodel of something we possess, not a fundamental change of our person. if it were the latter, who could keep up, right? we have so many opinions, large and small, and they shift so often that we’d hardly know who we were on any given day.
but i also think it’s faulty to think of opinions as something we merely have, like a cat or a kumquat scented candle (yes, i actually have both those things. don’t ask why). because doesn’t the sum of all our opinions at any given moment largely dictate how we see ourselves? who we think we are, and who we would like to be? they’re very formative things, opinions. the big gun opinions especially – god, religion, politics, culture, etc – form our so-called “perspectives.” “your perspective on life,” you know, that sense of why you’re doing what you’re doing. and that’s no small thing.
i talk in these annoying generalities only because i’ve been thinking specifically lately about how my opinions serve me. i’ve been considering the issues of victim positionality in feminism (i just made that word “postionality” up right now – sounds good, don’t it? just grad school-y enough to make you wonder if you’re just not smart enough to know what it means, when in fact it’s just gibberish. ah, higher education). and in thinking about the way in which that subject position can serve someone, i got to thinking about how all of our opinions must serve us in some way or another, or i imagine we wouldn’t hold them.
for instance, in my case, i think on a certain level i resist people trashing the victim language of feminism because feeling like a victim of patriarchal structures gives me something concrete to blame*. the older i get, the greater the sense i have that something is tragically amiss – something is off. i feel wronged in a big, metaphysical sense, but i’m not sure why or by whom. i think i literalize in a thousand different ways, and one of them is to look at the insults and abuses that the patriarchal system has foist upon my gender and say, there, that’s it! i have been wronged! life is unfair!
so, on a certain level, naming and appropriating blame for misogyny gives me a sense of actualizing a broader sense of being wronged, even if the two aren’t the same thing. one is a smaller stand-in for the other, for the biggest insult of them all, the affront to which i can never sufficiently respond: i don’t know why i’m here, and no one can provide me with an adequate answer.
so, a moment of brutal honesty from me: on a certain level, being a feminist allows me to channel a bigger, unaddress-able anger into an arena in which i feel there can be right and wrong answers, and right and wrong actions. this gives me a feeling of control, however specious it may be, that i utterly lack in other ways.
it lets me feel like i’m winning the battle, even though i have no idea whether or not i’ll win the war.
*mind you, i’m not going back on any of the other reasons i think the victim position could be valid – and i’m certainly not saying it’s invalid – just ruminating on some other implications.