I have spent the last two weeks typing out furious comments on Facebook, then deleting those comments because they don’t add anything to the conversation but merely spew my magmatic rage all over the internet. I’ve also written this post several times and deleted it because it’s just me asking “why?” over and over and over again. Part of me knows why. Part of me can’t wrap my brain around it. Part of me doesn’t want the reasons why to be true at all, but denial has never served anyone.
Obviously, I’m talking about the Kavanaugh stuff, but also the entirety of rape culture that it brings up: the shame and stigma surrounding sexual assault; the blame placed on the victim (usually female); the misunderstanding of trauma and how individuals respond to it; the knee-jerk assumption that a woman is lying about her assault; the disgusting idea that “boys will be boys” is any kind of reasonable explanation for the way young men discuss and treat women’s bodies; the ridiculous idea that “time served” is in any way enough to show that a person has truly learned to respect women and deserves to be allowed back to the stage (yes I’m talking about LCK); and more.
I’m not here to explain this shit to anyone. Let’s face it, I live in a bubble and if you’re reading this you probably already know about all of this. You’re probably just as angry as I am. You could probably write this post for me. I still don’t know what I’m trying to say besides I’m fucking angry.
But somehow, that still feels revolutionary to me.
Anger has always been this shameful, dangerous, indulgent emotion to me. It was for people with less control, people who wallowed, people who blamed others, people who couldn’t take responsibility for how they contributed to a situation. Anger has always been a ship that would probably sail me into other, more volatile waters: sadness, depression, powerlessness.
But that’s some fucking bullshit.
Anger is necessary. Anger is real. Anger is honest and pure and true.
Something I have personally had to learn these last few years is that no emotion is right or wrong. This might seem obvious, but it’s been utterly transformational for me. But anger is a hard one to allow. Socially, it’s just not as acceptable: people would rather you be depressed than angry. It’s more convenient. It makes others less uncomfortable.
But anger has power.
I know, I know, that’s not the Jedi way. “Anger, hatred…the dark side of the Force are these.” But anger and hate are two very different things. Anger is an emotion, and hatred is when you let your anger inform your thoughts and judgements about someone or something. (Besides, Jedi have done some very sketchy things over the course of the franchise, probably because they weren’t allowing themselves fully experience their honest emotions.)
But anger can be used for good. Anger has motivated more women than ever to speak up about their real experiences, which has helped many of us break free of the stigma and shame of our own experiences. Anger has given us the push we needed to finally say fuck this shit, this is fucking shit. Anger has written articles, exposes, Facebook posts, blog posts, newsletters, viral tweets. Anger has united countless victims of violence and suppression, and elevated us from victims to voices. Anger has given us the power, the push, the undeniable need to speak up and say #metoo. But most importantly, it has brought us together to say We will not be silent.
I’m trying to focus my anger and not let it turn into hatred. (I’m already flirting with #misandry most days, but thankfully I have some good men in my life to remind me that not all men are vile. In fact, I’d wager MOST men are good, decent human beings, but people rarely make headlines for respecting boundaries, believing women, or generally having empathy.) I’m trying to feel my anger without being ashamed of it. Because I’m fucking furious. A lot of women are.
I almost didn’t publish this post because again, I don’t know what I’m adding to the conversation here. But I think it’s important to say it, loudly, that I’m angry, and that’s okay. And it’s okay for you to be angry, too. And it’s okay for you to say you’re angry–loudly, repeatedly, emphatically.
There might be someone out there listening/reading who is not comfortable with their own anger, who is still trying to talk themselves out of it, who is ashamed of the grief and fury they do not feel they have the right to indulge in. I’m here to say: you have the right to be sad. You have the right to be angry.
And after that, you have the obligation to fight.
“I know that many men and even women are afraid and angry when women do speak, because in this barbaric society, when women speak truly they speak subversively – they can’t help it: if you’re underneath, if you’re kept down, you break out, you subvert. We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains.
That’s what I want – to hear you erupting. You young Mount St. Helenses who don’t know the power in you – I want to hear you.”