I've spent a lot of time and energy since the Salon article came out attempting not to appear to be "angry" (and often failing miserably, as many of you have seen). This is because the quickest way to avoid discussing someone's point is to attack their motivations by calling them "just angry." There's the "angry woman" (Feminazi), the "angry black man" (Thug, Gangster or Hood), the "angry lesbian" (Manhater, Ballbuster, Dyke... wait, these are things I've been called too), "angry Muslim" (Terrorist) and any number of other epithets used to devalue a person and their opinion. Also, if you're a woman, anger is decidedly unfeminine: women supposedly don't GET mad, unless it's a catfight over a man. In which case it's both perfectly fine and hot.

But the thing is, anger is a legitimate response to being told, directly or indirectly, that because of who you are, you do not deserve to be treated with basic human dignity. Whether that be for your gender, race, class, political beliefs, age or any other number of things, when one is told "Sorry, I'm not listening/ don't respect your opinion/ am deaf to your needs because of who you are or what you believe," it's perfectly legitimate to get angry about that. I am guilty of having done that to others, and they have gotten understandably angry with me.

Furthermore, being angry does not necessarily translate to a desire for revenge or punishment. Just because I'm angry at a culture which tells me that I am inferior because of my gender does not mean that I hate those who benefit from that system. After all, I'm part of at least one class which benefits from systemic oppression. But when my culture tells me I'm a "thing," or that others have a right to tell me what to think, believe or do, I get mad, because I am not a thing. No one is.

Furthermore, I get REALLY angry when those who are reaping the rewards of this unjust and egregiously imbalanced system have the audacity to say that there IS no system-- that I'm "just an angry feminist." Things like this and the backlash against the #yesallwomen hashtag war in the wake of the Elliot Rodgers tragedy demonstrate how comfortable those who are "winning" in terms of the culture wars are, in telling those who are "losing" that they just don't know what they're talking about.

So I think people can sling that "you're just angry" insult (if that's what it is, and not an attempt to protect their positions) at me as much as they want because they're right: I AM angry. But that doesn't mean I'm wrong, and it doesn't mean I want to hurt anyone, or take anything from them. It doesn't mean I'm incapable of compassion towards those who are interested in preserving the status quo. I can be angry, and still be kind.

Most of all, I can be angry, but I can still treat you like the human being you are. I can be forgiving of the past while simultaneously not wanting the future to look the same way. I can be an angry woman, and still have a really, really good point.

1 comment:

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