Teach her to be angry
If I have a daughter, the first thing I’ll teach her is how to be angry. Because I don’t know how. We stamp anger out of women — we tell them it’s unreasonable, we tell them they’re overreacting, or we react with indifference, putting up a brick wall so that their words bounce back and nothing has to change.
The first time a boy tried to get what he thought he was entitled to, I did get angry. But it made no difference, so the next time, I didn’t.
I didn’t get angry when a colleague wouldn’t take no for an answer, no matter how many times I said it. I just laughed and reminded him where the line was.
I didn’t get angry when a man tried to film our late-night encounter without my knowledge — let alone my consent — because anger would have felt like a risk, and I’d already risked so much that night.
And I didn’t get angry when a friend crossed a line, over and over. I just reminded him where the lines are, over and over. And it was only when I was tired of having the same conversation that I cut contact, and it was only after I cut contact that I got angry, because I could finally see the manipulation for what it was.
And I’d spent so much time asking other people if I even had the right to be angry.
I’m so tired of asking for permission to be angry. Of keeping the rage tucked under a smile. Every woman you know has a match in her pocket — at least one, but often a whole matchbook — that if struck, could torch the entire life of a man she knows.
Maybe they know that. Maybe they know that if they let us get angry, we won’t stop, and we’ll burn whole worlds to the ground.
So this is why it will be the first thing I teach my daughter. Because while her rage won’t protect her forever, it may slow the approach of vampires and wolves. It won’t keep her safe but it may give her a head start when she has to start running.
Because she will, at some point, have to start running.
And if I have a son, the first thing I’ll teach him is how to be gentle.