“Good and Mad”: Women Owning Their Anger

“Anger” can mean several different things for the purposes of the book: It’s a spontaneous emotional response to mistreatment, a motivating force for political action, an affect for which women are disproportionately criticized and penalized and an important aspect of public political expression that can be deployed in various ways. Elaine Blair, NY Times, reviewing Good and Mad by Rebecca Traister

Today’s the day journalist Rebecca Traister‘s Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger finally hits the bookshelves. Couldn’t be timelier.

From Traister’s opinion piece in the New York Times two days ago regarding the Senate hearing at which Dr. Christine Blasey Ford‘s scared but respectful testimony contrasted with others’ male anger: “Fury was a tool to be marshaled by men like Judge Kavanaugh and Senator Graham, in defense of their own claims to political, legal, public power. Fury was a weapon that had not been made available to the woman who had reason to question those claims.”

Women’s anger through the centuries has often been transformative. However, states Good and Mad reviewer Rebecca Greenfield, Bloomberg, “History has a habit of erasing female anger, Traister argues. Fuming hot ire is the necessary and righteous fuel for igniting radical social change: It drove the suffragists, labor rights organizers, second wave feminists, and civil rights activists to push for the right to vote, humane working conditions, reproductive rights, and racial equality under the law’.”

Traister in an interview with Hilary Howard (NY Times) on the contemporary importance of owning our anger:

People tell you how bad anger is for you. If it’s inside of you, it’s going to corrode and poison you. I think it’s the bottling it up or swallowing it down or thinking that there’s no outlet for it — that’s the thing that corrodes….

I would argue that the tail of the Anita Hill fury got us to #MeToo.

How Traister wraps up her aforementioned New York Times piece:

If you are angry today, or if you have been angry for a while, and you’re wondering whether you’re allowed to be as angry as you feel, let me say: Yes. Yes, you are allowed. You are, in fact, compelled.

If you’ve been feeling a new rage at the flaws of this country, and if your anger is making you want to change your life in order to change the world, then I have something incredibly important to say: Don’t forget how this feels.

Tell a friend, write it down, explain it to your children now, so they will remember. And don’t let anyone persuade you it wasn’t right, or it was weird, or it was some quirky stage in your life when you went all political — remember that, honey, that year you went crazy? No. No. Don’t let it ever become that. Because people will try.

Selected Book Reviews

Kirkus Reviews: “She explores how feminist outrage has been suppressed, discouraged, and deemed unattractive and crazy. With articulate vitriol backed by in-depth research, Traister validates American women’s anger as the heart of social progress and attributes its widespread denigration to the ‘correct understanding of those in power that in the fury of women lies the power to change the world’.”

Dr. Brittney Cooper, author of Eloquent Rage“Women’s anger rightly placed and soundly focused can be good for America, once again. In fact, it is essential. Tell the truth: We’re all sick and tired of being sick and tired. It’s high time we got good and mad.”

Publishers Weekly: “Traister closes with a reminder to women not to lose sight of their anger…because ‘being mad is correct; being mad is American; being mad can be joyful and productive and connective’.”

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