I Am Angry

‘I am angry. We should all be angry. Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change.’
* Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian Novellist and Activist

When talking about feminism, or indeed anything remotely related to the empowerment of women and basic human rights, I am often accused of being ‘angry’. Sometimes, I find it difficult to continue discussions and debates passed this point, mostly because I begin to question myself. I tame my response. I assure other members of the conversations that I am calm, even when i am not. I try to make the feminism I speak about more palatable. I change the subject. Eventually, we move on and talk about other things.

I’m constantly, desperately trying not to be the archetypal ‘angry feminism’ having the archetypal ‘angry feminist rant’.

I took some time to reflect on this, and what I came up with is this: People use accusations of ‘anger’ to shut down conversations they are not willing to have. Demanding a calm response from us, when the world does so much to incite our anger, is both unfair to expect and unjust for us to deliver.

A couple of weeks ago, someone reached out to be when they discovered a video, in which the speaker claimed that women were responsible for the end of civilisation. ‘This video has made some valid points’ they said, ‘what do you have to say about it?’ Suddenly, not only was I was expected to argue that women were not about to bring down an apocalypse that would end the world as we know it, I was also supposed to do this without getting angry.

This is not the first time I have been put in this position. It is easy to become seen as a spokesperson for feminism, constantly forced to defend it in the face of mindless youtube rants, or articles posted on dubious forums. I feel compelled to call out instances of sexism, even in intimate settings like family gatherings, because it has become expected of me. As well as feeling physically and emotionally drained from these encounters, I have the extra pressure of trying not be the ‘angry’ feminist. I feel like we all have the extra pressure of trying to keep the conversation comfortable for people. It is extremely exhausting.

In the midst of all this, I try to take comfort from winning an argument, or getting someone to see something from another point of view. The issue with this, I have discovered, is that the world is a big old place. In the time it takes you to put out one fire, three more have already sprung up, and there are three more people asking you why the burning is a bad thing. A close friend once advised me that I would have to learn to pick my battles. I want to add to this, though. I think you also have to learn to accept the validation of your anger. You have to become comfortable with making others uncomfortable.

I am angry. We should all be. I discovered the above quote by the Nigerian novelist and activist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie when i needed to hear it the most. I am done with trying to be polite in order to win votes. We have never needed that validation or justification for our beliefs.

Protecting your space is a lot more than just deciding where you engage, but also giving yourself the freedom to decide how you engage. Bring your anger, bring your passion, your insecurity, your sadness, your hurt and use this to mobilise the change you want to see in the world. Anger has the potential to change the world for the better, indeed, disaffection with the status quo is the only thing that ever has .

Photo by jim flores on Unsplash

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