I love Twitter. I love seeing different opinions and different ideas put forth all over the place from all kinds of people, and it’s an easy and quick way to connect. But sometimes, something comes across my feed that bothers me.
A person I follow retweeted a blog post from one of his friends about fashion. It’s a good post, but I was less inclined to read it because it contained this caveat in the tweet: “If anyone is offended by it I'm sorry! It's just my own personal view, I'm not judging anyone else.”
Oh. Okay. See, when you linked to a blog post about "what I find depressing about modern fashion," I just assumed that you meant to set up rules and criticize me personally. I'm glad you pre-emptively apologized; now I'm not mad at all!
Look, I understand the urge to preempt any possible offense, especially if you are a figure who doesn’t speak up very often. It can be very hard to open your mouth and say something that might be controversial (and it’s something that doesn’t get easier with time, I have to say).
But…apologizing for giving your opinion? That needs to stop. And, as someone with a lot of experience reading blogs, this is a phenomenon exclusive to women.
Women of the world: listen up.
If I see another blog post that ends with “okay, rant over :D” or a preemptive “I’m sorry if you’re offended; this is just my opinion!” or even just “I just had to say something,” given in an apologetic tone indicating that what they said will be taken back instantly if it’s found to be offensive, I may just scream.
Now, I’m not saying that women should turn into unapologetic douchebags when we give our opinion. We don’t have to be Charlie Sheen and claim to be unapologetic for “winning!” No, that’s just dickish, and in the famous words of the awesome Wil Wheaton, the best way to live with others is simply, “Don’t be a dick.”
And yes, it's possible to not be a dick without also apologizing for your every word.
Now, I spend a likely inordinate amount of time in the female-centered blogosphere, so I have a large database of experience from which I can draw my impressions. Nothing depresses me more than reading a beautiful, well-written piece arguing for a position, saying important things, then ending it with “okay, rant over. ;)”
“Rant over” says a lot of things to the reader, none of which are good:
It characterizes the preceding blog post as emotional, as “a rant” is something inherently emotional. This forces the reader to view it from an emotional lens, rather than a logical one.
It makes it seem as though a woman giving her opinion is outside the norm – a lot of woman bloggers apparently feel the need to clarify that they’re not all angry feminists and this rant was just a one-time thing and okay I’ll disappear back into the kitchen now...
It’s unprofessional. You don’t read opinion columns or editorials that are prefaced with “THIS IS JUST MY OPINION” or ending with a smiley face and “rant over!” It makes me take you less seriously, and it’s terrible writing.
It distances the writer from her work. Because the “rant” is apparently a “once in a blue moon” thing, it allows her to blame her opinion – which she likely genuinely holds – on an emotional outburst, or a bad day, and cop to disagreement. Rather than owning the work, owning the opinion, it allows the writer to sidle out quietly.
So, please, I’m begging you: Fight that urge. Your opinion is important. It matters that you speak your mind – and do so without qualifications, without apologies, without caveats. There is no need to apologize for who you are or for voicing an opinion on something you have a problem with.
And for the love of all that is holy, a smiley face is not punctuation. It's just not. Don't make me come over there.