Honoring Our Rage This Women’s History Month
There’s lots of reasons to be really, really pissed this Women’s History Month. We’re a year into a devastating, unprecedented pandemic, experiencing the fallout of a summer uprising for Black lives wherein white supremacy continues to threaten our collective safety, and witnessing the climate crisis come to a new head. Women are facing high unemployment numbers, disproportionately working in front-line jobs, and bearing the brunt of caregiving. Things aren’t great.
But instead of stuffing all that down to calmly celebrate women’s history this March, we decided to honor the fact that many of the ways in which women make history comes down to something a little less sparkly—women’s rage.
Women’s rage comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s a beautiful piece of protest art, sometimes it’s a public outburst deemed “unladylike”. No matter what form it takes, women’s rage is productive—and often criticized.
Many of the most iconic moments in women’s history were immediately met with shock and awe by forces in power, and not in the good way. From bra burners at the 1969 Miss America protest to Britney Spears defending her agency against parasitic paparazzi (#FreeBritney) to Serena Williams firing back at a referee’s sexist calls during the 2018 US Open Finals. History and pop culture is filled with women acting upon their justified rage and being endlessly punished for it. So often, it’s only years or generations after that we see rageful women as icons, deserving of respect and thanks for their contributions to our culture. Why can’t we do that in the moment, and see women’s rage for what it is—necessary?
Women’s rage is seen as inherently destructive, out of place, offensive. We’ve learned that to be taken seriously, we must remain totally calm, saccharine, and impartial, when discussing our own oppression. These standards are only magnified for Black women and Latinas, whose rage—and general existence—is plagued with stereotypes about being too angry or sassy constantly looming over them from schools to the workplace. But what if we reframed women’s rage to aide us in achieving our liberation goals? What if rage was liberation?
Rage grows from the seeds of injustice. The deep hurt, betrayal, anger, and sadness we experience at the hands of the white cisheteropatriarchy (and, you know, all the things) should not be suppressed, but instead should drive our work—should drive us. This affirmation of our own emotions and experiences is actually constructive and should be respected. Emotional involvement in the movement is not a liability but an asset, as it validates just how dire the need for progress is. Rage is really a form of care and compassion, not only for your community, but for yourself.
So this month, we’re celebrating women’s rage in all its forms, and all the ways it has transformed our society for the better. And we hope you celebrate and honor your own rage, too (even if it’s buried deep!), as self-care, as community care, and as a radical step towards liberation.