The dance of anger
I think there is a feminine issue with anger and that is why I take a gender-based view on the subject. When you think about it, ‘anger’ is not something us women are supposed to have – it’s not attractive or feminine and there are plenty of abusive descriptions to throw at an angry woman. Now think about how many terms there are to describe an angry man? Well, the two I’ve just come up with both refer back to their Mother or a Woman, rather than insult a man!
So, what is that rhyme, we’re made of ‘sugar and spice’ or something? And really, an angry woman is not to be taken seriously; she’s bitter, a nag, a hag (which by the way comes from hagia, the Greek word meaning ‘wise woman’).
So, without diverting off too much into the feminism behind ‘anger’, I just want to point out that it is very difficult for women to either display anger or admit it. More often than not, we’re burying it (and then doing a hell of a lot of harm when the kettle explodes), or we’re being frustratingly dismissed for being ‘on one of our rants’.
But ‘anger’ is very powerful. If used when we are cool, collected and focussed, it leads to change. It can get us out of abusive relationships, it can change society if we use our ‘anger’ correctly.
However, anger is often a well-rehearsed dance; ‘he/she’ makes their move, we make our own and even as we boil, rant and rave, we can feel the next step of the dance coming. We destroy ourselves and anyone else with it.
So the way I treat anger, is to analyse the dance and re-work the steps. The dance has to change. And when you start unpicking the dance, you come across all sorts of baggage – things that need closure, people who need forgiving, irrational beliefs that need refuting, negative thoughts we need to re-frame. You pick it all apart and the dance changes.
But in this difficult work, I like to keep alive some anger! It is the essence of our ‘wild-women selves’; it is the fuel for us as powerful, passionate women. It protects us from injustice and complacency, and it’s also the emotion that triggers the desire to change the world.
A wonderful emotion if we can learn to use it wisely!