Aug 10

Women Are Mad: And By Mad, I Mean Angry

Several years ago Kamala Harris was labeled a “mad woman”—angry, in other words—by Trump. Feminists in general over the decades have been called mad. These days women of all backgrounds and beliefs are truly mad—so mad they’re showing up in droves (along with male allies) to vote for the rights others want taken away. Abortion rights, for instance.

In Rebecca Traister‘s Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger she takes on this phenomenon. Selected quotes:

We are never forced to consider that rage—and not just stoicism, sadness, or strength—ere behind the actions of the few women’s heroes we’re ever taught about in school, from Harriet Tubman to Susan B. Anthony. Instead, we are regularly fed and we regularly ingest cultural messages that suggest that women’s rage is irrational, dangerous, or laughable.

Perhaps the reason that women’s anger is so broadly denigrated—treated as so ugly, so alienating, and so irrational—is because we have known all along that with it came the explosive power to upturn the very systems that have sought to contain it. What becomes clear, when we look to the past with an eye to the future, is that the discouragement of women’s anger—via silencing, erasure, and repression—stems from the correct understanding of those in power that in the fury of women lies the power to change the world.

...(W)hat is bad for women, when it comes to anger, are the messages that cause us to bottle it up, let it fester, keep it silent, feel shame, and isolation for ever having felt it or re-channel it in inappropriate directions. What is good for us is opening our mouths and letting it out, permitting ourselves to feel it and say it and think it and act on it and integrate it into our lives, just as we integrate joy and sadness and worry and optimism.

…(W)e must come to recognize our own rage as valid, as rational, and not as what we’re told it is: ugly, hysterical, marginal, laughable.

The other side of the anger is the hope. We wouldn’t be angry if we didn’t believe that it could be better.

In a New York Times piece Traister eloquently stated the following:

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.

A couple other interesting books that address the idea that women are mad are Brittney Cooper‘s Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower (2018) and Soraya Chemaly‘s Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger (2018).