Before we get started, I want to be clear: I am not talking about ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ traits in this post. Those are qualities and aspects that all humans have, regardless of gender. I am talking about people with vaginas and ovaries (or people who have had them, or people who want to have them). I am talking about women. The estrogen-based humans. Females. Because females understand something about this world that males simply cannot. (The opposite is also true, but we’re not talking about that today!)
With that, let us begin.
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Women put up with a lot of bullshit.
I mean, a lot.
Let’s just throw some examples out there, like…say…the pay gap.
Women getting paid less for the same work in the same job as a man is bullshit.
How about how women have a monthly cycle that we have to pretend we don’t have?! The high standard for every period product out there is that you can wear white pants while you bleed- as if you weren’t bleeding at all! Ugh.
You never see men having to walk around pretending they don’t have testicles and trying to hide them, do you?
No, you don’t.
And that’s some bullshit.
How about having derogatory labels applied to your natural state of being?
Because if I feel and express emotions, I am labeled ’emotional.’ And, heaven forbid we should express our feelings, display them publicly, or share them with intensity.
Say it loud, and say it proud: bullshit!
Of course, Caucasian women, like myself, ain’t got nothin’ on minorities and people of color and the differently-abled in this particular realm of bullshit. Or anywhere else in the sexist, racist society we find ourselves in, I should say.
I could talk about many, many other ways in which women have to put up with inequality, dismissiveness, and sexism. Because it is not just daily, personal acts of BS directed at me and my fellow women, it is structural. Our culture is based on making it tougher for women, just because we’re women.
In any case, it’s all bullshit.
And we mostly put up with it.
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Women generally put up with this BS in two ways: we act like men so our motives and behavior will be less suspicious (because ‘male’ = ‘normal’), or we ignore it and keep moving forward.
What you might notice amongst those choices is that we rarely get mad. Publicly mad. We rarely display the anger or frustration that are natural feelings when one deals with bullshit on a daily basis.
And, we can’t even get real loud about it. Just like men, we have petty frustrations (why does my SIL always wear the leather pants at Easter? and those stupid people at work!). We might vent if we need to.
We might huff. We might say something- but well out of earshot of our boss or parent or partner. We generally deal with it (because we have always had to, to achieve our goals) and move forward.
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Because women put up with a lot of bullshit and don’t get angry – when we do get angry, it means something needs to change.
When women show our anger, it means we have had enough of others disrespecting something we value (including ourselves). We do not choose anger easily.
When women are well and truly pissed off, it is time for things to change, because we only save our vehemence for when something really matters. We won’t climb over the walls of BS unless we’ve been pushed to.
This is the spiritual gift of anger: it shows us what we most care about, what we will fight to the death for.
Female anger is particularly sacred because it is willing to destroy old structures in order to create new ones.
Unlike men, women understand that destruction is sometimes necessary and good. That destruction makes space for what needs to exist next. Women know that we can recover from destruction. We can heal and move forward and create something better.
One of my favorite teachers on female empowerment is Sierra Bender. In one of her trainings she said, “Women are supposed to be the dreamers; men are supposed to create what we dream.” And, while this might sound a little weird, I believe it is correct. It is correct because women understand death and rebirth and how our decisions stretch both forward and back in a way that men simply cannot.
Women know the path of Life because we live through it each cycle of our menstruation. We bring forth the space of potential. We carry all the emotions and sensations created in that cycle. We watch our own blood drain away from us – a death – and we start over again. We travel in two worlds – life & death, inwards & outwards- again and again.
Women are the wisdom keepers. We know the cycle of all life inherently because we travel through it each month.
Women also hold in balance the power to nurture and to decimate. We can tell lovely truths that will make your heart swell and your imagination roll forward in beautiful waves. Thoughtful women also know that we can drop emotional napalm on someone’s inner landscape, and they may never heal from it. We rarely use that power- we hold it in balance for when it really matters. We save it for when we are angry and there is no turning back.
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One of the things I get super frustrated with lately is women who want to excuse their anger. Or fix it. Or deny it. Or turn away from it. Or ‘positive think it’ out of existence.
Anger is a scary emotion, I get that.
But it’s not uncontrollable.
And it’s not wrong.
Anger always points us towards what we most care about. It always shows us what is most important to us. These things are worth noting.
And female anger is particularly important because it only shows itself under the most dire circumstances.
I believe female anger is an underutilized resource for good.
When a woman gets sick to death of drug dealers killing teens in her town, that’s a force for good.
When a woman gets pissed off that her schedule or work has been fucked with (again) because someone can’t do their job, that’s a force for good.
When a woman gets intensely upset that there are so many guns our children aren’t safe in their schools, that’s a force for good.
When a woman gets so sick of a partner’s emotional immaturity or abuse or disrespect that she tells them the absolute truth, that is a force for good.
When a woman gets upset enough to call out sexist structures that hold all women down, that is a force for good.
When a woman gets so pissed off she starts researching the shit out of family leave resources for her daughter (and thereby, all daughters), that is a force for good.
When a woman screams for changes that help other people rise up, that is a force for good.
When a woman gets angry enough to call ‘bullshit’ on anything, that is a force for good.
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Women, your anger is a force for good.
I am tired of it being treated otherwise.
It is time to take your anger and make use of it.
Make phone calls.
Talk. Tell your story.
Find others who tell similar stories, have similar dreams.
Use the passion and intensity of your anger for which it was designed: to change things for the better. To destroy what no longer works so that better things can be built.
As I write this, I have worries that women will disagree about what they care about – what they will get angry enough about to fix (particularly about guns; guns are on my mind a lot lately). But when I think about this, I know: thoughtful women will be able to find a solution that keeps women, children, people of color, and other downtrodden groups safe. [If this isn’t a good enough goal for some women, then we probably need to talk about subtle female self-hatred. Check your local feminist interpretation of Nietzsche.]
If enough of us rise up, in our anger or our determination, or even in our joy, we can change things.
Let me show you what passionate women can do:
Stop halting, denying, hiding, or ‘fixing’ your anger. Let your anger show you what is most important. Use its energy to push you forward.
You anger is a sacred force for good.
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