An Observation

If there is one turn of phrase for which I'm known, well, it's probably Terrible Bargain. But if there's another phrase for which I'm known, it's: I'm not offended; I'm contemptuous.

For reasons that I probably don't need to explain to anyone who's been paying attention, I've lately been thinking about the ways in which accusations of anger (or fury, or rage, or whatever variations thereof) are used as discrediting strategies in the same way accusations of offense are.

And in the same way that marginalized people are accused of being offended, when what we are really are is contemptuous, marginalized people are frequently accused of being angry, when what we really are is frustrated.

Don't get me wrong: I have nothing against anger; to the contrary, I find anger can be useful, and necessary, and the root of progress.

But there are a lot of times I am accused of being angry (as if that's a bad thing) when I'm not actually angry—and I see that happening to a lot of marginalized people, especially women of every and any intersectional identity. We are dismissed out of hand as angry, when we are really frustrated—usually because we are being obliged to play games around having our lived experience audited with a validity prism being wielded by a privileged person who erroneously sees themselves as An Objective Arbiter, who is, in so doing, literally frustrating our ability to assert expertise on our own perceptions.

Frustration is not anger. (Although it certainly has the capacity to morph into anger, or coexist with it.) Frustration is "a feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems."

That is the thing I am feeling when I am most likely to be called angry. Overwhelming dissatisfaction as a result of the cyclical and systemic lack of being heard, respected, treated as an equal.

So, to the lexicon of useful phrases I add this: I'm not angry; I'm dissatisfied.

[Originally posted March 28, 2013.]

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