Feminism 101: On Anger

Here's the thing: To a subjugated person (yes, this, like most of my F101 posts, can be easily modified for application to most oppressed groups), anger is perfectly rational.

If you have even the merest capacity of imagination, it shouldn't be difficult for you to conjure your emotional reaction if you were, for example, told your entire life that you are equal, only to have the opposite be communicated to you in big and small ways every minute of every day, or if, as another example, there were people who argued that they should have control over some significant function of your body, that they needed to rob you of personal autonomy because they can make better decisions for you than you can for yourself, or if, for instance, you made less money for doing the same job someone else is doing for more, just because of some arbitrary physical feature, like, say, the color of your eyes.

If you are indeed in possession of the capacity of imagination, you have no doubt concluded by this juncture that these scenarios, coupled with a lack of immediate recourse, might make you angry.

So the idea that a feminist/womanist with demonstrable anger is somehow nutz is actually quite stupid.

Here's the other thing: If you are a genuine ally to feminists/womanists, you will never, ever, criticize a feminist/womanist's tone for being "too angry."

And you will never do this because, if you are a genuine ally, not only will you have internalized an understanding of the perfect rationality of the anger expressed by feminists/womanists, but you will also share that anger.

How can you look at a cultural landscape of institutionalized inequality and not be angry, right? I mean, if you're a genuine ally and all.

And, if you are, you'll be glad for that anger, because you know that the opposite of anger, for a progressive, is complacence—and there can be no progress if everyone is perfectly complacent with the way things are.

Progress is dependent on people who get angry, because anger—productive anger, motivating anger, directed anger, rational anger—is the root of all progress.

Feminists/womanists and their allies know that change comes by virtue of anger.

Progress ain't fueled by rainbows and gumdrops.

If you're not angry, you're probably not helping.

[Originally posted May 20, 2008.]

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