Female Rage Is Real, Though Historically Silenced By A Misogynist Society Favouring Men

Being a woman, I usually never get to express my rage as openly as men do with impunity, as most women fear retribution or worse, being tagged ‘unlikeable’.

What is the female rage? How does it impact fiction and reality?

Remember that guy who told you to relax when you were rightfully angry at work? Do you remember how you wanted to do the unspeakable things to him? Well, thoughts can be scary sometimes.

Oh, rage! Calm yourself.

Rage is common, but its expression is more among men. We see it all the surrounding time. Men shout on the roads, in traffic, or at their inconveniences on their way to offices. It’s common practice for them to wear rage like a badge of honour.

But men are always angry though!

The more rage men express, the more (some) men feel like they should be respected by their fellow earthlings. That’s how we have normalized rage for the males!

But what about women? What about our rage? How is our rage presented to the world in fiction and reality?

Julia Lesage writes in Women’s Rage

We have relatively few expressions of women’s authentic rage, even in women’s art. Often on the news, we will see a pained expression of injustice or the exploitative use of an image of a third-world woman’s grief. Such images are manipulated purely for emotional effect, without giving analysis or context. Some great feminist writers and speakers such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Harriet Tubman have provided models by which we can understand ourselves, but too often the very concept of “heroine” means that we hold up these women and their capacity for angry self-expression as the exception rather than the rule.

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How does female rage manifest?

It fortifies their place in the fictitious pecking order. But being a woman, I usually never get to express my rage as openly as them as I fear retribution or worse, being tagged ‘unlikeable’. So, sadly, I rage mostly inside or in enclosed spaces.

When asked about being black in America, James Baldwin once said, “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”

Recently, I have started wondering more about latent female rage and its expression among women. Are we all secretly raging?

Credit: The Telegraph (UK)

Female rage in Fiction

The exploration of rage is like treading on a slippery slope that can lead us to repugnant destinations. But it is interesting to delve into this category. Mostly because of its gendered connotation.

Thanks to the discussions in the media, this categorization has now an entire cinematic genre to it. Remember The bride from Kill Bill or more recently, Badrunissa from Darlings? Wronged and abused wives on a mission to exact revenge. The female rage has variably and often reductively depicted to be righteously motivated in movies. A rather boring stereotype if you ask me. Thankfully, we are slowly inching away from it.

Women are more complex than that. Thus, their rage too can be much more. It can have many layers like reckless (think Darlene Snell from The Ozarks), purposelessly redeeming (like I May Destroy You) or even psychopathic (think Amy Dunne from Gone Girl).

Fictional women on the big and small screens have allowed us to see the layers of rage in women, even the darker ones that we often miss. I hope we continue to see that emotional range in all shades of grey, blue and more.

Photo by Mélodie Descoubes on Unsplash

Female rage in reality

The emotion of rage, repressed or expressed, comes with real consequences in life.  Female rage is everywhere too and existing inconspicuously around us. It’s inside our houses, on the roads, in offices. Every woman we stumble upon, from the entire spectrum of morality, is holding on to some kind of anger which can range from righteous to malevolent. Unfair treatment, lack of opportunities, and dearth of support from loved ones all add to that volcano of righteous rage.

But unfortunately, the only time it gets noticed when it takes the shape of cataclysmic outcomes. It took a #metoo movement for the world to sit up and take notice of their toxic workplaces before they ignored the enraged women for decades.

This is the right kind of rage but there are other intriguing areas of rage that comes from women who don’t really fit into the normalized standard of morality and yet can feel wronged and raged. I am talking about women who make bad choices and end up in bad places. A greedy woman outmanoeuvred by her own greed. Or educated housewives getting angry at their husbands for not earning enough.

How do we then categorize the good from the bad? That’s why I think the whole stereotype of  rage under the category ‘female’ is short-sighted and honestly, even harmful to the larger cause of equality. Because women come in layers and so will their rage. At the end of the day, a human emotion can sometimes just be that, with all its flaws and dark hues. But it’s important to heed that this guise of equality is not used by the patriarchal system to push our already-struggling gender further into silence.

Where are you in the cycle?

We are all cogs in a machine. Keeping it churning, keeping it happy. But what happens when a cog becomes aware of its place and the system itself? Swallowing the Red pill is easy, but its effects can be hard to endure.

Righteous rage is what happens after we have swallowed the red pill and woken up. Every little indignity that we are conditioned to tolerate, starts to get increasingly prickly. The small snubs that were previously unnoticed starts to glare at us. Well-wishers benevolently putting us in our places when we step out of line begins to feel like hard slaps.

The hardest part of women’s anger is not our inability to express it but it’s the negotiation we do within to stop ourselves from getting angry when things feel unjust. Why do we make excuses for casual cruelties or micro-aggressions in our daily lives? Can it be helplessness or sometimes even craftiness? Can it be either or both?

Conditioning that makes women complacent victims is exactly what make men accomplice to the issue. We all fulfill a role in this conglomerate of oppression. Our freedom lies in knowing where we stand.

It’s hard to comprehend contradictions in people. A good person can have implicit biases and a bad folk can have an empowering effect on someone. We are all just variables in this world built on relativity. But we are all capable of learning and evolving regardless of our biology. We just need to make room for it all- biases, rage, and learning. They can all exist in the cycle. We just have to accept where we are in that cycle and keep moving forth.

Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

Published here first.

Header image source: Shutterstock, free and edited on CanvaPro

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