My name is Marisa, and I am originally from Northwest Indiana, right outside of Chicago. At U of M, I’m studying Political Science and Women’s Studies, but after undergrad, I hope to attend law school focusing on constitutional and civil rights law. Whilst taking classes in the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program, one of my professors, the lovely Dr. Shelley Manis, introduced the Minor in Writing program to me after I inquired about studying journalism. Since U of M unfortunately does not have a j-school, she recommended the MiW program as a space to develop writing skills that are not explicitly creatively focused.
Now in the program and beginning the experimental process, I have chosen an origin piece I wrote somewhat recently. Last semester, I began working for The Michigan Daily as a columnist covering the intersection of gender, politics, and health. About a month before the midterm elections, of which I was intensely focused on, I read a book called Good and Mad by Rebecca Traister. In it, she recounts the history of women’s anger as something that is undermined and not taken seriously (and in many cases, persecuted and prosecuted), despite it being a catalyzing force for change and social movements. So, I wrote a column about it because I, too, am an angry woman. And until reading Trasiter’s book, I hadn’t realized, hadn’t allowed myself to realize, how truly angry I have been for so long.
And this whole study of women’s anger has been in the back of my mind for months now. I see it everywhere. I see it in myself. But I also see it in almost every woman I know. And then I see how they hide it, how they minimize it to take up less space. I also see how men, both now and historically, are allowed to express their anger openly and unabashedly, for which we almost always reward them. For instance, we think of the anger of the “Founding Fathers” as dignified, as virtuous rage, but we do not give the same deference to Rosa Parks or Anita Hill or even the millions of women who marched in the Women’s March.
And it infuriates me.
At the end of her book, Traister describes her experience of being allowed to spend six months taking women’s anger, and her own, seriously. She is researching it seriously, talking about it seriously with friends and family, writing about it seriously, thinking about it seriously. In doing so, she found she was finally about to clear her mind, which had been foggy with raw fury since the 2016 election. She even found she was craving fruits and vegetables, wanting to work out, feeling less anxiety, and having the best sex of her life.
So, I want to spend a chunk of time solely dedicated to taking women’s rage, and my own rage, seriously. Not for all of the benefits Traister experienced but to understand this historical moment and most importantly, to openly and loudly recognize the power of women’s rage.