Monday, June 4, 2012

Because anger doesn't preclude rationality. Irrationality, however, does.

“As ‘objects,’ we remain unequals, inferiors. Even though they may be sincerely concerned about racism, their methodology suggests they are not yet free of the type of paternalism endemic to white supremacist ideology. Some of these women place themselves in the position of ‘authorities’ who must mediate communication between racist white women…and angry black women whom they believe are incapable of rational discourse.” bell hooks, Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center

The double standard here drives me up a wall. Literally. I’m typing this from the ceiling. It’s cozy up here. I know this book is “old” by today’s standards (even though it looks young enough to be 20) but that makes it no less relevant. I read those words and my blood pressure immediately shot up. We (all women, perhaps especially Black women) have been raging against this idea that emotion negates rationale for decades, centuries even. The hormones, oh the hormones, preclude our better judgment. (It’s why the War on Women is seeking to limit our access to birth control.)

Rather than arguing that I’m/we’re not angry – I’m choosing to embrace it. I’m calling upon my non/anti-feminist counterparts to cease invalidating my feelings/opinions/thoughts/ideas/existence on any issue just because of my emotional, Black or (ugh, the horror) vagina-ized state. I’m calling on my feminist compatriots who are melanin-deficient to help bring an end to this “angry black woman” stereotype – and help everyone recognize that there is nothing wrong with being angry and there is everything wrong with using a powerful tool of the patriarchy against other women. What is wrong is the marginalization of one socially, politically and economically "inferior" group by another, (slightly less) socially, politically and economically "inferior" one. I see this now not only as it pertains to the differences between black women and white women but the west and the non-west (i.e. Muslim women and non-Muslim women seeking to free Muslim women from their “shackles,”).  

Of course I'm angry. All the damned time and about so many things. But, I can be angry and know that 2 +2 = 4. I’m done asking other people if I have the right to be in such an impassioned state.  I'm embracing the fact that I do indeed own the right to live and feel as I choose. And I own that right in the face of men who think me inferior because of my impressive set of ovaries, and women who think me inferior because my hair is kinked and my skin has a year-round tan. 

Our myriad struggles with the perfect body, control over our baby-making and sustaining machinery (both before and after giving birth - breastfeeding anyone?) our varying battles with Darth Patriarchy (Vader’s distant cousin), our fight against gaslighting and so on are points of unity, not division. Unity, of course, does not mean minimization of difference. It means creating a world in which women have the authority to govern their own lives, wear their own clothes and be angry any time of the month they damn well please.

When a man got angry some time around September 2001, he launched an entire war that cost us countless lives. But his act was “rational.”

When I get angry, I’m PMSing, I’m irrational and my thoughts on the issue are thereby irrelevant.
Do you see where I’m going with this? 

I’m not saying anything here that hasn’t been said before, I know this. But I guess this post is really more for me and for those other women like me that get angry and then second guess their anger as though there is something wrong with it. God gave you anger. That’s how you know something is WRONG.
Now, I’m not saying that we should all go bat-shit crazy and run over our significant other’s because they stole our twinkies and that made us angry. I’m not saying we should all morph into Hulkina or Lady Hulk or whatever the hell her name is.

What I am saying is that the next time someone tells you that you’re “just angry” you should reply “And? Your point?” Because anger, or any other emotion for that matter, doesn’t preclude or disrupt rationality. Irrationality, however, does. 

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