Female rage is not only justified, it is a catalyst. A catalyst for change in a culture that tells us to shut up and be pretty.
I think a lot of us are angry right now. As I write this, my fists are literally clenching. My joints tight and springy: How dare Trump say such things?! More importantly; how dare he get away with them?!
Female anger has a long history of being mocked, ridiculed, joked about, and dismissed. Who doesn’t know the colloquial, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned?” In the Bible, especially the Old Testament, bossy angry women are to be avoided. Proverbs 21:9 warns us that it’s “better to dwell in a corner of the housetop than with a brawling woman in a wide house.”
I don’t know about you but right now, I want to brawl. I am up to my lady parts with disgust and fatigue of bro-masculinity. I just cannot believe that we are living in America in 2016 with a Republican Presidential nominee who boasts about sexually assaulting women—among other things—and that it’s somehow OK. Especially with most evangelical leaders.
And that is, perhaps, what angers me most about this whole situation. That men in my own life, family members, are bobbing-and-weaving. Leaders I grew up revering in the church like Franklin Graham dismissing Trump’s comments as merely “crude.”
Newsflash, Mr. Graham: The word “pussy” is not the problem. Women are not enraged that a man was talking about having an affair with a married woman—we are enraged that the Republican Presidential nominee is a man who calls women bitches, jokes about sexually assaulting them, and has been both accused of and charged with rape. And ya’ll are silent!
Donald Trump talking about sexually assaulting women and degrading their bodies is incredibly worrisome. But what is more worrisome is our fathers, uncles, pastors, and male politicians giving a wink and a nod. At most, a cringe. After all, “It’s just locker room talk.” “Boys will be boys.” “What about Bill Clinton’s affairs?” They, like Trump during last night’s debate, want to “get on to much more important things.”
All the while we are boiling inside.
Women have historically been portrayed as the more emotional sex; our anger, rash and reckless. While we’ve come a long way from doctors diagnosing one-in-four housewives with hysteria, the modern sitcom wife continues to be the uptight foil to her funny fuck-up husband. Women, especially black women, continue to be blasted for their displays of anger and rage.
Rage, for women, is apparently unbecoming. Lost Wimbledon? Smile for the cameras. Raped? Forgive and move on. Spent the last 30 years facing a barrage of sexist insults and critiques as one of the few prominent female leaders? “Trump that bitch!” All the while men’s anger is seen as powerful and righteous. When Donald Trump literally yells at and over his female competition he is seen as presidential. When Hillary raises her voice to simply be heard she is shrill.
I had an ex-boyfriend that use to “pull a Trump” very well. Whenever we would get into disagreements or heated discussions, he would simply tell me that I was being “too emotional” and couldn’t be calm and logical about the topic at hand—because, ya know, my vagina. And of course, it worked well. Regardless of what I was feeling beforehand, now I was definitely pissed.
Like Amy Poehler so perfectly put it: “Telling me to relax or smile when I’m angry is like bringing a birthday cake into an ape sanctuary. You’re just asking to get your genitals bitten off.”
While Poehler’s joke may be more of a warning for gaslighting men, I also find it very powerful. In a culture where “grab them by their pussy” is just locker room talk, female rage is the solution. To borrow a line from African-American novelist and social critic James Baldwin about the state of being black in America: “To be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”
I think that women’s anger, our rage, is one of the most powerful things we have. Women have two options in life: Either accept or get angry. I choose the latter.
For too long, I’ve sat by and watched as women I loved “took it”—played nice, sweet, meek and mild. I’ve watched as my more competent female coworkers got talked over, interrupted, and dismissed by men their lesser. I’ve watched myself from a distance, shoving my shame and anger down deep inside for fear of being a “bitch” or “too bossy.” I have watched as I and countless other women have dimmed our lights so that insecure men may shine brighter.
I will dim my light no longer.
Female rage is not only justified, it is a catalyst. A catalyst for change in a culture that tells us to shut up and be pretty. A culture that shuns and silences women from telling their sexual assault stories while giving men a space to joke about them. Stories that I, like millions of other women, are now emboldened to tell because of Donald Trump.
I would like to personally thank Donald Trump and the countless men who have harassed, talked over, and otherwise tried to silence women’s voices. Your actions have revealed your weakness: You are afraid of powerful women. Afraid of looking weak. You are afraid that if you don’t denigrate and degrade women’s bodies that we may have the confidence to shed our need of you.
Our rage is our power. And you have enraged us. For that, I thank you.
Jessica Schreindl is a freelance writer and TV producer in Seattle, Washington. She is a contributing writer for Mic.com and has been published on Feministing.com. She graduated with her M.A. from Syracuse University where she studied film history and documentary filmmaking.