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How to disagree

TW: bullying, harassment, self harm, suicide

On my recent piece, “Powderpuff plunders progress,” many people commented on The Olympian’s respective Instagram post, which there is nothing inherently wrong with. What crossed the line was attacking me as a person by saying that I am “ugly,” should “never speak again,” calling me “it” in a dehumanizing manner, calling my hair “gay,” and telling me to self harm and end my life. 

I do not feel bad for writing my article. I think it is important to express dissent to the status quo, regardless of potential backlash. Similarly, I believe it is good to share your opinion when it doesn’t match what others are saying. However, it is not okay to respond to people who disagree with you in a violent manner. Here is my comprehensive guide for how to disagree (or, a brief guide for how to write an opinion).

First, know what you are disagreeing about. In my article, I discussed issues of hegemonic sexism and gender disparities not just in sports and not just at CVHS. In the comments, it was evident that many people did not care to read the article, and just assumed I was attacking a game they love. In order to show your openness to dialogue on a topic, it is a key tenet of debate to know your opposition; reading the article you are commenting on would probably be a great place to start!

Second, think critically about what is being said. If the article doesn’t agree with what you know, pause. Maybe follow up on the sources; check out the links attached. Or, if you plan to refute the claims, do your own research. You can also think about the emotions behind the piece, how it impacts you and other people.

Remember that an opinion piece is meant to  bring light to another perspective and start conversations.

Third, express your opinion. Compile your response in a concise (or lengthy, if desired) piece. An effective way to share your thoughts would be in a Letter to the Editor, which can be published in the paper and online. You can also add a comment online underneath the article. If that is not your style, you can also just talk with other people about the article; after all, that is what an opinion piece is meant to prompt.

Some reminders: don’t harass or put down the person you disagree with. When you put out your opinion, erase those nasty thoughts from the page. You don’t need to tell the person that they don’t deserve to speak or should die just because they have a different perspective from you. Also, the person writing the article is expressing their opinion just like you. 

As we continue in our lives, we will undoubtedly face opposition to our opinions. When we encounter different perspectives, it is important to take the opportunity to expand our understanding of other experiences instead of instinctively reacting to different points of view with violence and hate.