The other day I was reading a blog post written by a woman who calls herself an advocate of feminism. Not far into her piece she mentioned how a life experience she’d had recently made her feel a lot of anger. Sounds about right for a feminist doesn’t it? After all, feminists are just a bunch of angry women aren’t they? Well this particular woman, after admitting that she felt angry, immediately stated that anger is not the best way to bring more awareness to the issue of feminism, opting to be more ‘graceful’ in her approach instead.
Now, if you don’t automatically understand how that statement is problematic then you have a lot more listening & learning (& un-learning) to do. Even if you are a woman yourself.
As a yoga and meditation practitioner I wholeheartedly believe in the concept of human beings of all genders being peaceful & content all of the time. However, because I am a yoga and meditation practitioner I also understand the reality of achieving such a goal and the lifetime of dedicated work required to even come close. I understand that as humans we have suppressed emotions, especially anger, that we actually need to FEEL. Emotions are meant to be felt & expressed. All of our emotions, (not just the nice & pleasant ones!) need to be felt & expressed in their entirety in order for us to be healthy.
So when I see a ‘feminist’ talking about feeling angry but then choosing a more ‘graceful’ (a word used so so so much to describe how women are ‘supposed’ to behave) way to go about her expressing it, guess what I feel?
I feel ANGRY.
I don’t know why but there is so much shame associated with feeling anger. Especially for women. And it needs to stop.
All emotions are valid. And all genders feel ALL emotions. Women do not need to be ‘graceful’. Women can be graceful if they choose but they can also be whatever the hell else they want to be, feel & express too.
I’m a grown woman. When I get angry I don’t throw a tantrum like my 2 year old does. I don’t hit the walls or stamp my feet or get violent. As an adult I have the ability to use my voice and my language to express how I’m feeling. I can access a range of creative outlets (dance, art, writing etc) to help me feel & process but none of those things are used to take my anger away. They are there to help me feel my anger in an appropriate way & express it fully so that I can then let go of it, like I would with any emotion.
And at the moment I have a lot to be angry about. I’m angry about the inequality between men & women that does still exist today. I’m angry about the wage gap. I’m angry about the stereotype that mothers still have placed on them in today’s society. I’m angry that most adult women have experienced sexual harassment &/or assault.
I’m angry that catcalling women on the street happens. I’m angry about the time I confronted two men in my neighbourhood who regularly catcalled me (i.e. sexual harassment) and the result was them laughing in my face & then threatening me. I’m angry about the fact that my then boyfriend confronted them and they apologised to HIM but not to me.
I’m angry about a past boyfriend telling me he’d leave me if I ever had an abortion because HE didn’t believe in them and then a different boyfriend telling me that I was ‘taking away his choice’ by not having one.
I’m angry about the times I’ve been called a ‘slut’, ‘whore’, ‘bitch’, ‘frigid’, ‘tease’ (to name just a few) when I’ve turned down a man’s advances in a bar, club or at a party. I’m angry about the girls who are still being sold as child brides in many countries around the world. I’m angry about the fact that many of the first feminist movements were only for white women & did not advocate for Women of Colour (that’s not feminism!!!!!!) yet we still celebrate these women without acknowledging the whole truth!
I’m angry that we put the burden on women to ‘stay safe’ and teach them ‘how not to get raped’ instead of teaching men to not rape in the first place!
I’m unapologetically angry about those and many more things. And if you’re not also angry after reading this then you need to ask yourself why?
Is your anger so deeply buried that you aren’t even aware of it? If you are a woman then probably yes.
And if you are a man and you don’t feel angry reading about these things, then you are most certainly a part of the problem so please, do better. Check yourself. Hold yourself accountable & start asking some serious questions as to why you don’t support women being exactly who they are instead of who you want us to be.
Photo credit to Gwendal Cottin.