And given my current age and my genetic inheritance of likely longevity, that’s going to be a LONG FUCKING TIME.
As I’ve been saying consistently for the past nearly two years, men have NO IDEA how angry women are at this point. We are enraged. And it seems like the culture at large – and pop culture – are finally catching up.
A few disparate threads:
The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, begun respectively by Tarana Burke in 1997 and a group of celebrities at the beginning of the year responding to Harvey Weinstein’s assaults coming to light, continue unabated. You may have stopped paying attention to the hastags, but revelations continue to come to light daily in fields as disparate as classical music, creative writing, and herpetology (and by the way, it wasn’t just about the inappropriate photos in Vogt’s presentation – do better, media).
Activist, writer, and media critic Soraya Chemaly was recently interviewed on Kate Harding and Samhita Mukhopadhyay’s outstanding Feminasty podcast about her forthcoming book Rage Becomes Her, due out in September (and if you don’t know that I already have it on pre-order, you don’t know me AT ALL 🙂 You should absolutely listen to the whole thing (45 minutes total), but a few highlights of the conversation include:
- Anger is the ONE emotion women (who are purportedly the only ones who ARE “emotional” or “irrational”) are prohibited from expressing – and the ONLY emotion men are permitted to express.
- The one exception is that women are allowed to use anger in political ways related to maternity (MADD, Moms Demand Sense) – so while we can’t use it for ourselves to fight back against injustice against women qua women, we can use it for others as long as it doesn’t challenge the basic power structure of the patriarchy.
- The only expression of anger women ARE allowed on a regular basis is crying, because it’s not threatening, and, in fact, renders us ridiculous or pitiful (which, since our rage has historically been impotent in a patriarchal society, we are).
- Culturally, angry men = revolution; angry women = lunacy, hysteria.
- A fascinating deconstruction of the trope of the “angry black woman,” specifically framed by the bullshit Michelle Obama had to put up with and navigate.
- Women are taught EARLY not only to police our own anger, but to police other girls and women as well (although the regulatory mechanism varies by race and class).
- MANY white women are complicit in our own oppression, because we’ve bought into the patriarchy in an attempt to preserve our white privilege. But you already knew that – hello, 53% of white women who voted for TrumPutin.
- A fascinating deconstruction of how religion impacts all of this. (Short version: it’s not good. Patriarchal religion of ANY stripe is NOT YOUR FRIEND, ladies.)
Thirdly, how are we not having a MUCH bigger cultural conversation about Dietland right now?
Let me say right off, I have not read the book, and in fact, I’m not even up to the current episode of the Marti Noxon (of Buffy fame, blessed be her name) series starring Joy Nash (Plum), Juliana Margulies (Kitty), Tamara Tunie (Julia), Robin Weigert (Verena), Rowena King (Cheryl), and Erin Darke (Leeta).
On its surface, the show is about Plum’s experiences in the world as a fat woman, and Verena’s attempts, thought Calliope House and the New Baptist Plan, to help Plum wake up to the fact that SHE’s not the one who’s wrong, SHE’s not the one with the problem, and get in touch with her righteous anger at her own oppression. Which is not a small thing.
However, there’s also the larger and more opaque story lines of what, exactly, is the purpose of Calliope House, and the mysterious vigilante Jennifer Collective. Of course, men are freaking out online (and in the show) about the idea of women taking highly targeted revenge on specific people who have done specific harm to women and not been punished by the patriarchy (and not to give away any spoilers, but notice I wrote specific PEOPLE, not specific MEN). Note: the Jennifer Collective is not indiscriminately shooting up schools, or churches, or concerts, or clubs, or the local Walmart. And isn’t it interesting that there can be an entire show with a male protagonist who does exactly that targeted vigilantism and he’s considered the hero (Dexter), but when women do it in righteous anger, they don’t get to be the heroes? Until now.
To quote the Maude Watts character from the movie Suffragette (another expression of women’s righteous rage that you should see if you haven’t already): “We break windows, we burn things. Cause war’s the only language men listen to! Cause you’ve beaten us and betrayed us and there’s nothing else left!”
Yeah, well, that’s where we are.
To return to Soraya Chemaly, one of the things she talks about on the podcast is that anger is the emotion of injustice, which is part of the prohibition on women expressing it – we’re not allowed to experience or fight back against our own oppression. My theory as to why? Women’s anger is terrifying to men. If Mommy gets angry, she won’t take care of you and you’ll die. One way that *could* go is that men would stop fucking pissing us off and, you know, treat us like equal human beings. But the way it *has* gone is to ignore our rage, or, when it breaks through, belittle it (“you’re so cute when you’re angry!”).
Storm’s about to break, fellas. Better get ready.
Image found at Time.com (of course)
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