Popsugar Reading Challenge category: A book with only text n the cover
Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women's Anger, by Soraya Chemaly
This book starts with a relatable anecdote: at preschool, Chemaly's daughter liked to build elaborate block towers - and one boy took delight in knocking them down. She tried every "nice" way to protect her creations: asking him politely, moving to another part of the classroom, physically putting herself between him and her tower. Even at that age, she'd internalized that she wasn't supposed to yell, destroy his playthings, or otherwise show anger. His destruction continued, and his parents did nothing to stop him. They apologetically made excuses: he "couldn't help himself" because he was "just such a boy." This continued until Chemaly broke the unwritten rule against disciplining other people's children (and by "disciplining," I mean a stern talking-to). After which, it turned out he could control himself just fine.
We live in a culture where a woman showing anger is is viewed as ridiculous, a "bitch," or even "crazy." If she's a woman of color, her anger may also be seen as threatening as well. Women are taught from an early age to take care of other people's feelings, to finesse disagreements, to say no in a softened, roundabout way.
Suppressing anger comes at a price: it can lead to physical problems like high blood pressure, and mental health problems like depression and self-harm. As Chemaly details, there's rather a lot to be angry about, from sexual harassment to income inequality to the way men are allowed to interrupt women but not the reverse. And suppressing anger leaves the source of the anger unaddressed.
In the final chapter, she talks about solutions. While she starts with individual actions (speaking up, letting go of people-pleasing), she doesn't stop there. She talks about working with others to challenge sexist structures and make real change, at work, at home, and in the community. And then perhaps there will be less to get angry about.
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