Do you remember the first time you were angry?
I don’t. I do remember that my anger wasn’t tolerated. As if every sign of anger had to be neutralized, just as the other more difficult emotions. I remember one time I was angry and slammed the door of my room. It was a special day, because normally I wouldn’t feel or express any anger. But I did this day. I remember someone coming after me to prove that their rule was bigger than my anger, that their anger could win from mine. My anger had to be neutralized. As if it had no right to exist because it wasn’t the biggest in the room. It was baby anger and it had to be nipped in the bud.
So I learnt to not be angry about a thing. Sure, I didn’t have much to be immediately angry about. I lived in good conditions and I was healthy. But generally I learnt to not pay attention to my emotions, and I estranged from anger.
Later I got to a place where I could create more space for my emotions to live, to come to the surface. I allowed them there. I allowed them to come in, say hi, so we could wave at each other, check in if we’re okay. We could get to know each others waves, get acquainted. What a beautiful process that is. It’s still ongoing.
I learnt to get to know my inner world, I learnt that I could actually go there, go inside. I could focus my attention in the body instead of only in the head as I had usually done. I could be in the places where my emotions live.
It took a long time before anger surfaced. First came feelings that belong to longing to be loved, to feeling insecure about being worthy of love. Feelings of sadness, loneliness. Feeling lost. Then came the process of opening up and the feelings that come with that, feelings of being vulnerable.
For me anger wasn’t a thing. I even thought I didn’t have it in me. That I was just too serene to be angry about anything. Sure, I could be sad, but anger?
It made sense too, because anger is generally more often associated with men than with women. For women being angry seems to be forbidden. Following societal standards, if a woman would show any sign of anger, she may be named a bitch or mad or all these other demeaning words that can bring a person down. For men anger can be regarded as a positive quality, or at least as a natural expression of being manly and going for what you want, or as some sort of natural extension of that. But for women it is more often seen as something that makes you lose your credibility. Or, more precisely, it is depicted in such a way so to discredit women.
Anger can be so powerful that it can make one lose control, even if it’s just a little bit or very temporarily. And we have kept our women tightly under control, haven’t we? Women are conditioned to control everything, to stiffen up, to suck it all up, keep it all in, to be nice. Anger is not nice.
Those are the women that stood up for women’s rights and the women who still do. Feminists. Angry women, angry feminists. They’re often labelled this way so to strip them of their power. As if angry women are just that, angry and nothing more, and are therefore not worth taking seriously. Not worth listening to. As if angry women are not sensible women. Women are not allowed to be angry, so these women must have some problems dealing with their emotions. They must be some kind of crazy, loose, lost.
This label is used as an excuse so to not change a thing, so that privileged men don’t have to change the system that works mostly in their own benefit, so that they don’t have to fairly share with women. And yes, you sense correctly that I am perfectly angry about this.
An angry woman would also be an ungrateful one. Because her anger must be a sign that she doesn’t appreciate the things that are already there. The things that are available to her.
And you have to be grateful for what you have. You already have it so good, why don’t enjoy it? Thank the lord, thank the people that made it all possible, thank your nation. Keep thanking others and be grateful. We keep our women busy by telling them how to be ‘good women’.
Be deserving. As if you have to behave a certain way to be deserving, to be worthy. As if anger can’t go together with all the other possible ways of being. As if angry women aren’t deserving. As if anger takes over your being and you are lost forever.
You have to be modest. Have you heard this one before? Women get to be modest. Stay small, play small, let the men feel big around you so to not upset them.
Anger isn’t modest. Anger is screaming for a change. Anger is big. It has the potential to be huge. Anger is powerful, fierce, loud.
As you can guess, I’m pretty sick of having people and society tell me I have to be grateful. Of people and society telling me that I am in a good position and that I should just behave well, act accordingly, according to how I may fit in this society that was shaped for me.
I don’t believe it was shaped for me. And I don’t believe the shaping is done.
Society isn’t done. It’s not perfected. It’s not complete.
It’s not done until society serves all life on earth. Not just the lucky few, but all of us.
It has to evolve.
And the change doesn’t come from sheer gratefulness or modesty. The change comes from anger.
For me anger is an impulse to change. It’s a sign of passion. It’s a feeling of passion. It’s an unmet desire.
I don’t let anyone tell me that my anger can’t be. Instead, I will create all the space my anger needs to be and let me hear her. I will nourish my anger, cultivate my anger, and find ways to allow her into the world.
Not as anger per se, but as a change maker.
Because my anger shows me the way. She shows me where my passions lie. She shows me what I care about and what is currently not being taken care of. She shows me what is at stake.
My anger turns on when the things I love are threatened. She turns on when the things I care about are neglected. She shows me what is worth protecting. What is worth living for.
My anger turns on when people are mistreated. My anger turns on when animals are caged and slaughtered, when nature is destroyed. My anger turns on when the soil is polluted. When we humans choose to keep using the logic of an economic system that does not intend to take care of the natural world, the basis of all existence. An economic system that sets us up to destroy our own very basis.
My anger turns on when people are not treated respectfully, not equally, not humanely. When societal systems are set up to benefit the few at the expense of the others.
In the current world my anger turns on regularly. There are many things to be angry about.
Does that make my anger wrong? Something to put away, something to hide? Something to feel ashamed about?
No. It shows me that current societal structures are wrong, that they’re not really serving the people they’re meant to serve. It shows that there’s room for improvement. That there’s a lot to fight for and work on.
Does it make me an angry woman? That may as well be. But you know what, my anger shows me that I care. I care about the world, about the living beings that roam on it. I care about the earth that is the home of all these beings. I care about protecting it all.
I care more about the natural world than I care about the systems set up by humans that undermine the natural world. I am not afraid to radically change these systems, to shape alternative systems and stories. To create better visions for ways of living together. I care enough to want a better world.
My anger is founded in caring, in love.
My anger sprouts from my love, from the things that I love that are threatened or mistreated. My anger tells me that I have more love to give.
I am protecting my extended family. Wild, fierce, loving.
I am protecting my earthling family.
Or as the environmental activists would say: I am nature defending itself.
I have an endless well of love to give and as long as there’s oppression and injustice I will be angry. And I love my anger. I wholeheartedly support my anger and I let it flow. So that I can follow it and see where it leads me. To see where to put more love.
This piece was brought to you by an Aries moon.
Photo by Cassie Boca via Unsplash, sides cut off.