Women’s anger is still being weaponized

Dear President Trump,

All afternoon I’ve been thinking about anger and how it continues to be weaponized against women who express it. As I was trying to come up with a way into this vast, touchy topic, it occurred to me that it might be instructive to list reasons why men get angry.

So what might some of those reasons be? I’m not a man, but I think men get angry when they feel disrespected or when they feel someone is taking advantage of them or cheating them. Men feel angry when others take them for granted or fail to appreciate them or their work. Men often respond angrily when they believe they aren’t getting what is rightfully theirs, which can include things I’ve already listed like respect, but may also include fair wages, promotions they feel qualified to receive, or a parking spot. Sometimes men feel angry when they observe others being treated unjustly and they almost always feel it when they themselves are being treated unjustly. Men often get angry when someone is trying to take something of theirs and they pretty much always get angry when they themselves or people they love are threatened with harm or are harmed. Men may also feel anger when they are afraid or when they’d rather not feel something else, like pain or sorrow.

I don’t know about you, but I pretty regularly see men express their anger and I pretty regularly see lots of space given to men’s anger. I see men getting props for expressing their anger and for standing up for themselves, especially if they do it in articulate, thoughtful ways and aren’t punching walls or throwing tantrums. I see men garnering respect and prestige when they express anger. I see men being expected to talk about the anger they feel, as though this is part of what it is to be a man.

So I want to see how it feels to sub in “women” for “men” in the paragraph about anger provocations.

So why do women get angry? I think women get angry when they feel disrespected or when they feel someone is taking advantage of them or cheating them. Women feel angry when others take them for granted or fail to appreciate them or their work. Women often respond angrily when they believe they aren’t getting what is rightfully theirs, which can include things I’ve already listed like respect, but may also include fair wages, promotions they feel qualified to receive, or a parking spot. Sometimes women feel angry when they observe others being treated unjustly and they almost always feel it when they themselves are being treated unjustly. Women often get angry when someone is trying to take something of theirs and they pretty much always get angry when they themselves or people they love are threatened with harm or are harmed. Women may also feel anger when they are afraid or when they’d rather not feel something else, like pain or sorrow.

What do you think? Does it seem reasonable that these sorts of situations would provoke anger for women? Kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? Actually, not “kind of” – it does make sense.

What if our collective responses to women’s anger were in line with our typical responses to men’s anger? What if when women stood up for themselves, when they expressed their anger in articulate, thoughtful ways, they garnered respect and prestige? What if we mothballed the idea that anger is a central part of what it means to be a man and is off limits to women? What if we made space for people to recognize and express whatever feelings they are feeling?

Seems like if we could answer these questions in the affirmative it would be much, much easier for everyone to just be.

May we be safe to feel and express what we feel.
May we be willing to hold space for everyone’s anger.
May we move past antiquated, unhealthy gender stereotypes.
May we make peace with girls’ and women’s anger.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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