Letter: Anger might save us
Anger might save us
Women around the world are yoga-ing their brains out. Aspen is a superb example. We sign up for coaching and therapy in record numbers compared with men. So why is it that in the reflections of women and men both, we so frequently act hatefully, even abusively, toward ourselves and others? What are we missing? Despite our progress, we yet neglect two searingly unfeminist challenges that threaten to keep even the strongest woman fundamentally unhappy, unhealthy and prone to a distortion of anger that injures herself and others.
In the most basic description of a culture where women are lesser citizens is the pervasive perception that women are inferior. But we sometimes overlook that inferiority is characterized by the responsibility of others to fulfill a woman’s needs because she doesn’t know what they are. Today, women know how to avoid (or to avoid appearing to) outsource the naming of their needs to the closest alpha male, but no matter; society itself is structured to dictate just that. Ever met a woman control freak? It’s likely she feels and resents, in varying degrees of awareness, the fact that society still doesn’t agree that she knows best for herself and continuously demands that she consult the outside world for affirmation, safety and love.
Even when we move justly against inequality, the old symptoms of second-rate citizenry sneakily demand we have a cosigner on our desires. In this case, women tend toward immense frustration that the external things and people we thought could help us feel purposeful fall short, as they invariably do. This is the fertile ground of passive aggressiveness, strangely-timed outbursts and cutting condescension.
Despite our frequent poor use of it, anger is the wisest response we have. It points us to our freedom and our intuitive wisdom. Rage heavily lines the path to pleasure and joy. When we think we shouldn’t be angry, we poison it. We double our pain with confused inward violence or lashing out. Most importantly, we unplug immense pieces of what attunes us to justice and personal purpose. We think that if we just do enough yoga (societally sanctioned for joy and well-being), we can de-stress from the sensation that something is very wrong, and that our feeling it makes us culpable. But women can’t de-stress when we function fundamentally on the residue of an inferiority we deny and yet still rebel against — an excellent reason, in my opinion, to be furious. We’ve made the mistake of structuring our illustration of self-determination on a familiar masculine template and furthermore, on our connotations of feminism, compassion and kindness. Anger, so frequent and so repressed in the women we pass on the street, is perhaps the leading guide to a desperately needed global transformation. Perhaps we didn’t think our wisdom would arrive to us like this, but it is our compassion for our anger that may heal it. Yoga alone won’t save us, but anger just might.