People don’t like angry feminism. I’ve heard a multitude of reasons. I’ve heard that anger makes your message hard to hear. I’ve heard that no one likes an angry person. I’ve heard that women aren’t supposed to be angry—it isn’t an attractive trait. Angry feminism is derided and downplayed, an eye-rolling indictment of women and their silly causes.
I’m here to speak in defense of the angry feminist—the feminist who doesn’t sit meekly with her hands folded in her lap, whispering her convictions into the room. I want to speak in defense of the feminist who can’t keep her opinion to herself when she hears racist, sexist, bigoted speech. I will speak proudly for the feminist whose voice might raise, might get louder, when the world around her seems to be happily careening off its axis, blindly walking to its own ruin.
The angry feminist? Often, the angry feminist is the change-making feminist.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words… Some of the Time
Feminists in Hollywood, in the blogosphere, and in writing are lauded…until they get a bit too loud, a bit too angry. They are celebrated for their work in diversity, until they are discredited by their own tendency toward impassioned speeches. An angry, lectern-pounding man is spirited, passionate, devoted, while an angry, lectern-pounding woman is out of control, hysterical, reviled.
For a woman, actions have to be loud, large, and brash to be taken seriously. Women’s voices are marginalized, set aside, and ignored even still in business, in religion, and at home. The angry feminist is not a woman who has lost her true north—she is a woman who has learned that in her body, yelling may be the only way she will be heard.
In Defense of Anger
Ultimately, the defense of the angry feminist comes down to the defense of anger. Anger is not unbecoming. Anger is not, by default, a flaw. When we see injustice, we should be angry. We should be incensed. We should feel bile at the back of our throats, fury pulsing through our veins. When we see decisions being made for millions that do not take those millions into account, do not serve others, do not provide light and life and truth, we should be outraged.
Outrage is often the precursor to action. Outrage is often the glue uniting hundreds—thousands—millions of people for a single cause. Anger can be abused and unrighteous, yes, but it can be a saving grace and give a voice to the meek. I beg you, please: do not write anger off as unworthy of being heard. Anger can be the noise of illogical buffoonery, yes—but it can also be a voice of reason, imploring people to stop and reconsider—or, perhaps, to consider others for the first time.
The next time you hear an angry feminist shouting into a megaphone, furiously typing away at a keyboard, or calling out on the sidewalk, stop for a moment. Listen for a moment. Much in the same way you might feel anger if you see a child being abused, or an animal being neglected, the angry feminist might be begging for humanity, begging for change. Don’t discredit her.
Angry Feminism in Action
I have been an angry feminist. I have been angry standing in the face of a religious system that demeaned, marginalized, and stomped on women. I have been angry when I was treated as crazy, wild, out of control for my refusal to accept the authority of men who did not respect my family or myself. I have been angry as I have watched women being told that their worth is in their bodies, listening to young women talk about their sexuality as though it is their only boon, their only source of worth or attention.
When I see a man demanding his wife serve him food and drink while he lounges on a couch or chair and doesn’t lift a finger to help, I grow angry. When I see yet another instance of a rape victim being blamed or being tossed aside in favor of the abuser, I feel fury. When I see yet another example of a group of people who falsely claim goodness while asserting that men are more—more important, more worthy, more more more—I feel fire stinging my veins.
Anger can destroy, yes. Anger can also light a fire, change the course of an entire generation, spur people to action who would otherwise fall silent. The angry feminist might be another jaded woman, and she might not—regardless, her voice deserves to be heard.