I was looking forward to 7:30’s Why Women are Angry, hosted by Leigh Sales (pictured), because there is some morbid comfort in having my rage diagnosed back to me. But while watching, I realized the simple answer to the question “why women are angry” is because we ARE STILL HAVING THIS DISCUSSION.
I watched in foot stomping frustration as women I know and respect articulately, and with so much evidence, laid out all the disadvantage and obstruction faced by diverse women. They laid out the exact same things I have heard them put forward before. They pointed out the same things I and countless others have pointed out time and again. They drew from the same pile of evidence we all draw from in our desperation for anyone to believe us.
And as the episode unfolded, we fell into our standard formation, noting the good bits and the fresh takes. Squirreling away links to use later, sharing resources to back up key points or arm ourselves against the inevitable backlash. Thinking, maybe this time there will be cut through. Maybe this time, with these facts.
I won’t repeat the facts here – 7:30, which produced the series, is doing an excellent job. But also, I’m kind of sick of repeating those facts – how much evidence must women produce to have their basic humanity recognized? To have their need for safety, voice and participation taken seriously?
Women are angry because we are stuck in a Cassandra-esque nightmare in which we cannot convince policy makers and the not-all-men brigade to acknowledge our present dire situation, let alone convince anyone to plan for a better future for women.
The title Why Women are Angry doesn’t even get close, really. It could be more accurately titled Why Women are Seething Infernos of Incandescent Rage. Or Why Women Aren’t Shoving Those Who Don’t Believe Them Down a Well – this would at least recognize the restraint we are collectively showing.
But anger is not a bad thing. People sometimes ask me what gives me hope that we can make better progress on gender equality. I usually reference the way my daughter and her friends unapologetically embrace their rage. They have watched us closely as we put forward the evidence, patiently articulated the issues, navigated the systems and structures that weren’t built for or by us. They have seen that this has been too slow, with too little impact. And they are calling bullsh*t. Not in an embarrassed way, but in way that says ‘anger is the natural consequence of my oppression, deal with it’.
This gives me hope because anger can be a powerfully clarifying sweet spot between frustration and despair. In frustration we ask WHY are things are like this? If we flip too far into despair, we feel powerless to do anything. But if we hover around in anger, the space emerges to realize things MUST change, that we can take action, and that there may be a future in which people regret making us this cranky.
I find hope in anger because anger makes people uncomfortable – this is one of the reasons we’re told as women to control or hide our anger. I want people to be uncomfortable because discomfort is necessary for change.
Most of all, anger is energizing. My anger is what stops the bone crunching fatigue of this fight flattening me forever. I hold on my anger it because it is useful. Women are told that anger is bad; that our selfcare and resilience relies on us letting go of anger. I disagree. I have a daily act of rejuvenation to keep me going – every morning, before my feet hit the floor, I whisper to myself ‘Remember that you are angry’.
Watch ABC TV’s ‘Why Women are Angry’ on iview.
Feature image: ABC TV’s Leigh Sales. Picture: Supplied