You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry (But you don’t seem to like when I’m polite, either)

There have been a lot of reasons to be angry this week. Truly, legitimately angry.  Most prominent would be the Stuebenville verdict and the backlash Jane Doe has faced. (And her compassionate response to everything continues to be an incredible inspiration to me.)

Or how about Adria Richards, who tweeted a request for PyCon employees to deal with some con-goers making sexual jokes. She did it via twitter in order to not disrupt the on-going presentation, and tweeted a picture IDing the perpetrators.  As you can see, it was handled! Excellent. However…not only is PyCon in the midst of changing their code of conduct after the fact to avoid similar firestorms, but Adria also lost her job (as did one of the men making the jokes) over the incident after internet heroes started ddosing her company’s website, not to mention the ubiquitous threats and slurs.

Or the release of Anita Sarkeesian’s first video in her Tropes versus Women project, which is wholly (almost to the point of blandness) the bare bones of feminism 101, and still received and continues to receive a shitstorm of threats, not to mention just plain absurd accusations of being a Fake Gamer Girl.

Right, so here’s the thing.

I do not, as a matter of course, wake up angry. When I got married, more than one person signed off their cards with, “never go to bed angry” and I try to hold to that. (I guess they meant towards my husband and not existentially, but eh, what’re you gonna do?) I do not even engage in people saying things I disagree with angry.

But I sure do get angry fast when my (to my mind) relatively mild disagreement becomes phrased as “too angry” or “an attack” or, my personal favourites “irrational and/or hysterical”.  Nothing in my entire experience prepared me for how easily people will call you angry – and then suddenly, other people see it too! Whatever the topic of conversation was, it falls to the wayside in the wake of a discussion on whether or not I was angry, am I justifiably angry, how much literal venom am I pouring into innocent bystanders ears. “You’re right,” I murmur, “I was angry all along. I retract my position because this anger is unbecoming and causes frown lines.”

Okay, maybe not the last part. But I do, at that point, start get angry. Anger has perhaps even become a default starting point, if only so I can skip the song and dance about exactly how angry I am. It’s like cutting out the embarrassing stumbling around after someone asks you if you’re pregnant. (“No, just fat. welp, you must be embarrassed.”)

So, yeah, I’m angry.  I’m angry that in the year of our lord twenty thirteen we are still having discussions about whether or not a woman has a right to bodily autonomy; yes, even if she signed a contract. I’m angry that I see women going before me into the tech and game industries and be pushed aside, pushed out or drop out from the sheer exhaustion of dealing with idiot men. I’m angry that most people can’t point out what rape is on a map. Sometimes I take that anger and channel it into a project I’m working on. And sometimes I use it to fuel a discussion about any of those topics long past the point where I just want to throw up my hands, understand that equality isn’t ever going to really happen except on the most superficial levels, and sleep the day away in a pillow fort filled with cats.

I’m tired of fighting in my own circles. I have just as many, if not MORE, arguments with people who want to be allies and other feminists, than I do with Straight Up Card Carrying Misogynists. Sometimes these arguments can be good, a way to clarify and expand on my own thoughts on feminism and women’s rights. Often, they’re infuriating, borne out of a societal drive to promote a Meritocratic Individual who Has Opinions (And opinions, naturally, can never be wrong.) I don’t like being angry at people who are ostensibly “on my side” but I don’t want the half-assed deals they’re offering, either!

When women were imprisoned during the American federal suffragette movement, due to bullshit charges (Obstructing Traffic, for example), when they were issued pardons, some refused to take them, because they hadn’t committed a crime to begin with. Taking the pardons meant admitting guilt in the original instance. There are hundreds of posts’ worth of problems with first-wave feminism, but I admire that particular spirit.  I don’t want fun, sexy feminism. I don’t want to assuage men that I shave my legs, and abhor misandry to get them on board. I want them on board because it’s the right thing to do.

Yeah, I’m angry. What are you going to do about it?

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2 thoughts on “You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry (But you don’t seem to like when I’m polite, either)

  1. jules says:

    I know the feeling, I wake up and I am so mad. And it is slowly wearing me out and down, especially in the face of so called allies that don’t actually give a shit about equality, but just want to “win” or “prove a point”. But as someone else said to me, that I didn’t even know by then after I made a furious comment to an organizer of a flashmob against a womens scholarship event for you wouldn’t believe it 11 girls(!), because, you know: protest elitist educational systems and such: I love your anger. I do. It believe it to be a beacon of hope, that we have angry outspoken intelligent people amongst the rubbish the internet deals out at us every day. I know it is hard to feel so raw and helpless all the time, because I for one can’t switch my empathy on and off like others seem to be able. I feel the world around me in its glorious unfairness, inequality and horror. Which is the price to pay for seeing also its beauty, its compassion and magic, I suppose. But it still wears on me. And I still say: good! Even if I would like to not feel it so bad sometimes and just hide behind my hands and weep like a babe at all of the “too much”s. The day it stops making me angry, I don’t even know what that would mean. I would stop being me in a lot of ways. In a way, this anger is a form of love.

    Patrick Rothfuss has said this better on a verry different issue in his blog, but nontheless:

    “In the kid isle at the grocery store, I see that they don’t stock baby formula on the shelves anymore. Now they have little cards there. You have to take the card to the service desk to get the formula.

    To me, this means people must have been stealing baby formula. And standing there at 8:00 in the morning, the fact that people have to steal formula for their babies just breaks my heart. That shows that something is fucked up in our society. Food for your babies should be a given, and if some people are having to steal it, it means that something has gone wrong in my little town. I’ll have to talk to some people and see what we can do about this.

    This, you have to realize, is also love. Love is a small thing only if we force it to be small. It isn’t some commodity we hoard and dole out sparingly for family and friends.

    No. When you see a broken car by the side of the road and stop to help the person. That’s love. When you watch the news and hear about kids being exposed to lead in playgrounds and frac mining fucking up the environment, the anger you feel actually comes from love. It means you care about people even though you don’t know them.

    It’s a hard way to live your life. It means you’ll be feel helpless a lot, and you’ll be hurt a lot, and you’ll be angry at the state of things so constantly that it will rub you raw. But it’s the best way to be. It’s the only way civilization can function properly. It’s the only way we can make things better.”

    So thank you for your anger. Thank you for your love.

    • cetaillefer says:

      Thank you for this lovely comment. Pat’s comment reminds me of a number of times within the church community how I’ve been frustrated with a pettiness that I can’t believe God embodies or condones. My husband’s cell phone was stolen from the church office during a sunday service, and it was frustrating to lose it, but I mean also – how desperate is someone who is willing to steal from a church? It means there are bigger problems, and more needs to be done.

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