Braclet with writing 'feminist'Why it’s okay to be both.

Let’s talk about anger. Rage. Fury.

9 months ago I became furious.

9 months ago, Elliot Rodger made me a feminist.

The media response to the murders in California largely refused to identify Rodger’s actions as hate crimes.

After his manifesto, which detailed his plans for a “War on Women”, I was bewildered that such a denial could take place. I took to Twitter, and scrolled through thousands of tweets, from men who empathised with Rodger, some even declaring he should be a “martyr”. I watched the #YesAllWomen movement blossom and began to realise that there is some shit I deal with, that all women deal with, that we shouldn’t have to.

And I got angry.

In high school, I remember talking about feminism with a friend, and saying something typically teenager, along the lines of “I’d never be a feminist, they’re all so angry.”

Insert facepalm here.

There is undeniably a strong connection between anger and feminism. Ask anyone on the street the first words they think of when you say “feminist”, and I’m certain one of them would be “angry”. Recently, there’s been an effort in feminist circles to reduce this image, a distancing from that emotion. Anger is not an emotion that is culturally acceptable in Australia. So when I began to identify as a feminist, something changed. I can’t label it exactly, but people changed the way they interacted with me, and suddenly, I became more cautious about identifying as a feminist in an unfamiliar company. Even my parents, finding out I used the term, warned me not to “climb the clock tower and start shooting men”. The irony of this statement, in light of what had just occurred in Isla Vista, did not escape me.

Posting articles I found interesting to my Facebook page became a more considered experience. Because without a doubt, someone would be there, trying to convince me that there’s no such thing as “inequality”, or even “you don’t have it that bad, or else you wouldn’t have taken time out of your day to comment”.

Unh. Desk? Meet head.

I have pretended I’m not angry. I have tried to respond with logic, and the beast inside me clawed at my ribcage, wondering who clipped its wings. I smiled at the customer who whistled at me in my workplace because getting angry was not the answer. I put up with my co-worker talking to me about his penis, I put up with him screaming “rape” if I accidentally brushed past him, because anger was not the answer. I responded rationally to a colleague suggesting that the Oscar nominations had nothing to do with white male privilege. Because of anger. Was not. The answer.


Anger has its place. Anger is a force for change. Gandhi was fucking pissed off. Aung San Suu Kyi was mad as hell. The Dalai Lama is raging. Very calmly, but still.

I will not be putting down my anger. No fucking way.

There’s a fair amount of cultural pressure for women to be pretty and soft. Anger is not pretty or soft. It’s hard, and ugly and has edges. I’m okay with ugliness.

I am allowed to be face-breakingly ugly, no matter what.

I want to be ugly if it means that my children might see a different world to the one that I see.

The flip side of this is that I can’t put down my anger. It has its hooks in me, and it’s terrifying. I’m trying not to change. I’m trying not to be cynical or bitter. I don’t know that I’m winning. I’m harder than I was. Less forgiving. I don’t like that. It’s changing me, this anger, it’s tearing me down from the inside out, and I’m afraid of what it will rebuild.

I want someone else, more important, to tell me “yes, of course, we’re fixing it right away”. I don’t want to know that I will die and the world will be the same. I don’t want to have to explain to you that talking to me about your penis at work, is inappropriate. I don’t want to have to explain that feminism is for men as well. I don’t want to keep having to insist that the inequality is there, pointing at it, jumping up and down and screaming, while so many others just laugh. I don’t want to have to explain to you why the word “feminist” should be used instead of “equalist”. I don’t want to have to tell you why street harassment is awful and demeaning.  I don’t want to be angry.

But in spite of all this, in spite of what I want, I’ll do it anyway. Because I have to. Because, world, you leave me no choice, but to be very fucking angry.