I used to dislike the prejudice of the ‘angry feminist’ but lately, and very often, I have felt this anger.
Due to emotional display rules, anger seems to be less and less welcome in society. Moreover, due to gendered socialization, women are not expected to be angry or express any anger. Despite being considered a ‘much emotional sex’, we are supposed to be but lovely, caring, benevolent, submissive and ductile. We are supposed to look always beautiful and everyone knows frowning in anger makes you wrinkled. We are expected to forgive and forget and are taught to ‘offer the other cheek’ whenever we are slap in the face. We are socialized as non-confrontational and obedient, and we are not expected to fight (back), since fight(ing) is always connected to violence in the common sense, and violence is a “males’ thing”. As with our bodies, we are taught and expected not to be on command of our emotions.
But as Caribeean-american-black-feminist-lesbian-mother-poet-writer and activist Audre Lorde wrote in The uses of anger: women responding to racism:
“My fear of anger taught me nothing. Your fear of anger will teach you nothing, also. […] Every woman has a well-stocked arsenal of anger potentially useful against those oppressions, personal and institutional, which brought the anger into being.”
And this is the quid of the question. Anger is a natural human response when one had been offended, wronged or denied; it’s a normal emotion following a provocation and it even has a functional value for survival, like in the ‘fight or flight’ strategy.
“The person who is angry at the right things and toward the right people, and also in the right way, at the right time and for the right length of time is morally praiseworthy”
Aristoteles even considered that the opposite of anger was insensibility and David Hume expressed that the lack of anger “is sometimes evidence of weakness and imbecility”. But for sure, they were both (at least) writing for men. And men can not only express anger but they are not even supposed to explain or justify it.
Feminist anger is a natural human response to the constant provocation, offense, wrongness and denial that is sexism and patriarchy. My feminist anger seems like a natural survival strategy when I am sexually harassed. My feminist anger seems like a natural response when my dignity and value as a human being is overlooked, but all the (unwanted) looks are on my body and my appearance. My feminist anger feels completely sensible when other women express their deep self body-hatred because they never achieve the artificial bodies displayed on the media, and moreover, they don’t even see how artificial they are. My feminist anger is my natural response to misogyny and to all intersectional discriminations.
My feminist anger means I’m neither insensible to injustice nor an imbecile to stand this sexist crap, based on and sustained for the privilege of a few (white, middle-class, heterosexual, middle-aged, body-able men). My anger means mobilization, transformation and change and makes me a non-violent fighter for an equal society.
So now I really don’t mind being called an angry feminist. If you cannot stand my anger, don’t provoke me with your crap.