Rage Among Women: Serena Williams Is Not Alone

Eloquent Rage…Rage Becomes Her…Women & Power…The Logic of Misogyny. These are parts of book titles that Rebecca Traister, author of the upcoming Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger, has suggested be read in the wake of the recent Serena Williams incident.

I. Brittney Cooper, Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower (2018)

Publishers Weekly review excerpt:

Cooper, Cosmopolitan contributor and cofounder of the Crunk Feminist Collective blog, provides incisive commentary in this collection of essays about the issues facing black feminists in what she sees as an increasingly retrograde society. Many of the essays are deeply personal, with Cooper using her own experiences as springboards to larger concerns.

From Cooper:

…(T)here’s this stereotype that dogs so many of us that we’re ‘angry.’ We get accused of being angry even when we’re not, and we’re just sort of going about our lives…
What does it look like to both say, ‘Yeah, we’re mad as hell about the ways that the world treats black women consistently and relentlessly,’ and then think about what it looks like to have that rage, to own it and to use it in ways that are beneficial to us, rather than letting other people weaponize it against us?

II. Soraya ChemalyRage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger (2018)

Chemaly on CBC Radio“We talk to girls about a wide range of emotions but parents don’t really talk to girls ever about anger. Whereas they talk to boys almost not at all about the full range of human emotion, but specifically about anger.”

Kirkus Reviews:

Women who step out of line to assert themselves become targets of what Chemaly calls the corrosive ‘drip, drip, drip’ of microaggressions that ultimately become ‘the building blocks of structural discrimination’ (among countless others, see: Hillary Clinton). The author goes on to assert that much-critiqued worldwide movements like #MeToo are crucial because they offer spaces where women can tell their stories and be heard. To help women use anger productively, Chemaly ends by offering a 10-point plan of action to help redress the gender imbalances that threaten not only them, but democracy itself.

III. Mary Beard, Women & Power: A Manifesto (2017)  

…(O)ne satiric stunt on US television featured a fake severed head of Trump himself, but in that case the (female) comedian concerned lost her job as a consequence. By contrast, this scene of Perseus-Trump brandishing the dripping, oozing head of Medusa-Clinton was very much part of the everyday, domestic American decorative world. You could buy it on T-shirts and tank tops, on coffee mugs, on laptop sleeves and tote bags (sometimes with the logo TRIUMPH, sometimes TRUMP). It may take a moment or two to take in that normalisation of gendered violence, but if you were ever doubtful about the extent to which the exclusion of women from power is culturally embedded or unsure of the continued strength of classical ways of formulating and justifying it – well, I give you Trump and Clinton, Perseus and Medusa, and rest my case.

IV. Kate Manne, Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny (2017)  

From the review in The Guardian (Moira Weigel):

“Down Girl is full of sadness about Clinton. Some of it I agree with; some of it I don’t. (I would prefer never to argue with another woman about Clinton again.) But American feminists cannot accept that a female leader will always, necessarily be doomed – for the sake of…Gillibrand or Kamala Harris, or whoever comes after, as well as all of us. Not only is misogyny ‘still a thing’. As Trump and his cronies eviscerate the state, and appeal to their base’s wounded masculinity, it is poised to become more of a thing than ever.”

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