As women were taught we aren’t allowed to be angry; that’s its ugly and aggressive, that our rage is irrational and illogical. We often have to bite our tongues and swallow our pride, so we seethe in silence. We cry when were frustrated, and then we’re mocked and belittled. Its infuriating that women are encouraged to suppress our anger when we have so much to be angry about, in a more equal world we’d have the same liberty to publicly express our emotions as men do. Why does the world perceive angry women as such a threat? This ongoing dialogue debating women’s rage is a constant battle, after decades of censure women are finally restoring their right to feel fury and reconsidering how powerful that may be.
From a young age, girls are taught they aren’t allowed to be angry and that displays of anger are more acceptable from boys. The belief that female anger is damaging is learnt at the earliest stages of childhood, becoming associated with masculinity reinforcing age-old stereotypical gender norms. Many women are taught our anger will make us unlovable, that when were angry we’re unattractive and we alienate those around us. If we are good-mannered and quiet, subservient even, were rewarded. As we age and move into more public situations, be it in educational or work environments, the emotional gender divide worsens. Women are expected to exert greater self-restraint, whilst male anger is publicly accepted female anger is penalised. What would it mean if society allowed women to express their full spectrum of emotions without the fear of being punished? Anger in women is a powerful motivator; we aren’t educated enough on how female anger has impacted women’s rights, social injustice, civil rights, the education system and freedom of speech. Supressed emotions have been known to cause illnesses in both genders, but we women never want to give the idea that we can’t cope and are unequal so we keep most things quiet.
The female anger spectacle has fashioned countless stereotypes about women, raising the question is there ever a safe way for us to feel rage? Were all too familiar with the hysterical woman typecast – we’re described as bitchy, bitter, nags and man-haters whilst our male counterparts are heroic at the slightest hint of frustration. It takes courage to be viewed as an angry woman as our society today is extremely creative in finding ways to reject women’s rage. If we have strong opinions or defend ourselves were pegged as rude and difficult, for women to be successful and admirable we have to assume the soft feminine stereotype. Society may be supportive to women in our goals of reaching equality, but if we stay silent on matters we can be still blamed for saying nothing. Black women in particular are routinely gagged by the angry black woman stereotype, but the catch is that as a women not voicing your feelings makes the world think you either don’t have any or what you feel isn’t significant. This allows deep-rooted gender biases to endure, it’s easier to critique angry women than asking the questions that really need to be asked.
Over the past few years rage has been a defining aspect of our culture. Social and political disruption has seen more women openly and actively expressing anger; today were seeing females leading movements resisting old ways and regulations which would have once quietened them. A society that doesn’t respect women’s anger doesn’t validate women as equals, the real task is to use our collective power and channel our anger wisely. Anger is a tool we can use for clearer dialogue, women can spread knowledge no longer having to be afraid to stand up and speak up for what’s right. There’s no doubt that women should be able to feel and express the same anger as men, in turn receiving the same freedom that comes with that right. Women are finding their power in rage, and every time I see an unashamedly angry woman I admire her because I know what that anger represents.
Written by J’Nae Phillips