Friday evening, I attended “Good and Mad with Rebecca Traister” at the central branch of the Kitchener Public Library.
This Premiere 85 Queen Event was well-attended by fans (predominantly women) of the award-winning journalist and best-selling author of Big Girls Don’t Cry, All the Single Ladies, and Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger.
After a brief introduction, an animated armchair conversation with Associate Professor Aimée Morrison followed.
Aimée began with the question: “Why are women afraid to get angry?”
Without missing a beat, Rebecca answered, “We fear the expression of anger.” She then went on to explain that feeling anger is a response to all sorts of unfairness—from the familial to the political—and is entirely rational.
This runs contrary to what many women have experienced throughout their lives. The message—If you are nice and polite, things will change—is reinforced while female expressions of anger are labeled emotional and hysterical. Women often put their relationships, careers, and lives at risk when showing anger.
On the other hand, powerful white men are granted rationality. Their anger is considered legitimate.
Later, this prompted the following question from an audience member: “How can we express anger in a world that wasn’t built to accept it?”
Rebecca admitted that we can’t change the world, but we can connect with others who are angry. Major social movements have occurred because people came together and organized.
Building community was the advice repeated throughout the evening. At no point did Rebecca suggest individual women let the anger loose. She did, however, allude to her own unique situation, joking that she lives in a biodome. She is literally being paid and rewarded professionally to be angry.
Rebecca is also reaping the health benefits of expressing that anger. During the four months she wrote Good and Mad, she experienced one of the physically healthiest periods of her adult life. She ate and slept well, exercised more than usual, and had great sex.
Quotable quotes from Rebecca Traister…
I’m deeply suspicious of all calls for civility.
If you keep your anger inside, you are isolated.
When you voice your anger, you become audible and visible. Others listen and join in the conversation.