Posted by: *carrie* | July 13, 2010

The “Angry” Feminists

I recently came across this quote:

Jewish Journal: Any regrets about feminism?

Gloria Steinem: Yes, we’ve been much too nice

– from A Q&A with Gloria Steinem

I spend a lot of my free time reading feminist news/blogs/posts/what-have-you on the interwebz. Thanks to RSS feeds and Google Reader, it doesn’t take much effort on my part to find this news.

What’s kind of baffling to me is that I do not go one week without reading at least one post by a self-identified woman that is in the vein of “Don’t get me wrong. I support feminism. But I’m not one of those angry feminists. I don’t hate men.

Here’s the thing: Not only do I not hate men, but I’ve yet to meet a single self-identified feminist that wastes her (or his) time hating men. In fact, this study found that women who do not identify as feminists are more hostile towards men than those that do.

I’m also not a generally angry person. Again, the feminists I know aren’t particularly angry. That doesn’t mean that we don’t get angry. It doesn’t mean we sit passively by. Reading about a 13 year old girl being stoned to death because she was pregnant by her 15 year old brother – that shit should piss you off. Reading about street harassment or the wage gap or any inequalities should piss you off.

When people try to distance themselves from feminism by saying they’re “not an angry feminist” what they are really saying is that they don’t want to shake things up. When men try to put women in their place by asking “you’re not one of those angry feminists, are you?” they’re saying that they are okay with those inequalities.

Women aren’t angry because of hormones or PMS or irrational reasons. They’re angry for very logical, rational reasons. Anger may be an emotion, but it’s one born out of knowledge and understanding.

When you work equally as hard as the man in your office – the man who leaves early to go to his kids’ soccer games while you slave away picking up his slack – and discover he makes more than you because the boss thinks “he has a family to take care of”  and ignores the fact you are the primary breadwinner in your own family- anger is a legitimate response.

When an entire culture allows ‘honor killings’ to take place – frequently when women have been raped – anger is a legitimate response.

When a young woman feels she has to alter her route home from work because of a street harasser – anger is a legitimate response.

In fact, in all of these cases anger seems like the most appropriate, logical response. Apathy does not seem okay. Dismissing it as “not my problem” – not okay.

Am I “one of those angry feminists”? No. Am I one of those feminists that gets angry at patriarchy and sexism? Hell yes.

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Responses

  1. Nice post. Love that quote, and that study will come in quite handy.

  2. It’s okay to be angry about inequality. No point in being at angry at men, though. Men may have set up the patriarchy but both men and women are responsible for keeping it up. We are all complicit.

    In terms of people not wanting to seem angry, I think there’s a little bit of conceited martyrdom involved. They recognize inequality, but they don’t want to appear to be “whiny” or “victims.” They think they’re somehow tougher or better people for just putting up with it.

    That mentality has to go. Calling out injustice is not being a victim or making excuses.


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