Angry about our anger double standard


Again, I’m retracing old ground, but given how little we have learned, I think it’s warranted.

This morning I read an interview with Congresswoman Jayapal by Rebecca Traister for The Cut about Jayapal’s experiences on Wednesday during the Capitol siege. Jayapal recounts how there’d been talk days ahead of time that a large protest was likely, that Congresspeople needed to get to the Capitol early, that they should plan to not leave at all during the day, and that they should bring overnight bags – just in case. She said they were ready, but that when the Capitol was breached, it appeared that the Capitol police were beyond not ready, that they didn’t know what the hell they were doing and ended up leaving the House members who were up in the observation gallery trapped for over an hour and a half. None of the police seemed to know whether the door to the gallery was locked and so they stood there with their guns drawn in case the door was broken down.

Totally the stuff of nightmares.

Remember the German flight attendant I told you about a few weeks ago, the one who was absolutely livid at the man who disabled the bathroom smoke detector and smoked in there, how she stood over him and whisper-yelled “Did you do this? Did you do this? I know you did this.” I would love for her to have a go at you, but I doubt she’d even bother framing any of it as questions – “you did this and I am angry.”

It’s actually the topic of anger and who is and isn’t sanctioned to express it that is the old ground I want to cover. The reason for the somewhat lengthy description of Pramila Jayapal’s harrowing experience is that she and Traister talked about how there was no apparent fury when Congress resumed their work late Wednesday night. This led Jayapal to recall all of the grateful feedback she got when she told Bill Barr back in July that she was starting to lose her temper during the hearings about the violent clearing of Lafayette Square. Women said they felt their own rage was validated having seen a woman with some serious power express her own anger publicly.

And from there I reflected on what became the whole bullshit premise of the Dirty Dozen + Kelly L and the 100+ GOPP* Representatives for challenging the Electoral votes from swing states – that their constituents are angry, that they feel robbed, that they feel the election was stolen from them. All of course, based on a carefully honed fiction that you started crafting months and months ago so that you could take advantage of their White rage and point it wherever it would do the most damage when the time came.

The point being that somehow how you all could say with straight faces that you were challenging the election because your base was angry, as if it were perfectly reasonable to cater to anger you fraudulently stirred up even as you righteously disavow Black people’s and women’s anger over real, tangible mistreatment. Think about the words we use when White men express anger: impassioned, passionate, fiery, vehement, ardent, fervid, burning. Now think about the words we use when anyone else expresses anger: bitter, bitchy, unhinged, resentful, aggrieved, disgruntled, indignant, hateful, nasty. I could go on, but you get the idea. Maybe.

This double standard has been with us for a long, long time. This double standard is dangerous. We ignore this double standard at our collective peril.

May we be safe to lose our tempers when it is actually justified.
May we be willing to step back and consider whether our anger is being manipulated.
May we stop bowing down to White male anger (and that of their enablers).
May we accept that we can’t get unstuck until we reckon with our double standards around anger.

Tracy Simpson
*GOPP = Grand Old Pathetic Party

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s