// Trigger warning for mention of abortion //
Everybody’s entitled to their opinion, man. I can say what I want – it’s free speech dude!
How many times have you heard that bullshit phrase? If you’re an opinionated woman or minority who spends any time online, I’m willing to bet the answer is ‘a lot’.
See, bigots and racists and other unsavoury people like to flaunt their horrific ideals around, and then cry ‘FREE SPEECH’ when someone (usually a woman) tries to criticise them. In fact, there’s a popular belief on the internet that everything – and I mean everything – is up for discussion; that all opinions are good and valuable and should be heard.
Nowhere is this line of thinking more apparent than on the internet, where people like to tell you that there’s no such thing as a moral fact – that nothing is simply black or white, but rather ambiguous shades of grey. You can’t just make blanket statement about things because the world’s complicated, don’t you know.
But whilst open and frank discussions are good and should be actively encouraged, it’s also important to remember that not all opinions are good opinions; and not everything is up for debate. Sometimes you don’t just ‘have a different opinion’ to someone – sometimes you’re just straight up being a dick and no one should have to listen to your bullshit.
Take the so-called debate around abortion, for example. I remember once being told, in a feminist space, that I was ‘shutting down discussion’ because I said that you can’t be pro-life and a feminist. By saying that the pro-life ideology is intrinsically harmful to women, I was apparently ignoring all of the intricacies of the pro-life movement, and I should stop being so gosh darn assertive with my opinion, and allow a proper discussion to take place.
The problem with that stance, however, is that it assumes all opinions are created equal – that the pro-life opinion is just as worthy of respect as the pro-choice opinion.
I don’t want to sit around in a circle and discuss the pros and cons of each side of the debate, because there are no ‘pros’ in the pro-life movement.
If you call yourself pro-life, then you are actively supporting an ideology that is harmful to me personally, and to everyone else with a uterus. You are actively supporting an ideology that sees people with uteruses as nothing more than incubators – as non-autonomous beings.
The pro-life opinion is a bad opinion, and it should be treated as such. I shouldn’t have to pretend to consider the merits of the pro-life stance (or, indeed, any harmful ideology). I shouldn’t have to dilute my beliefs so that pro-lifers can feel safe in expressing theirs. I shouldn’t have to debate this issue, because this issue is not up for debate.
Sometimes – a lot of the time – debate is the best way to go. Hell, give me a couple of glasses of wine and I’d be willing to debate the colour of the sky with you. But sometimes, it’s not – and we need to stop acting as if all opinions are worthy of our time. As if people are perfectly entitled to express their harmful and dangerous beliefs because – hey, everyone’s entitled to their opinion! Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that doesn’t mean I have to treat bad opinions with any respect.