It’s 2020 and Women Still Aren’t Allowed to Be Angry.

3 Ways Women Can Safely Express Their Opinions Without Disturbing the Status Quo

“Throughout history women, angry women have been called harpies, bitches, witches and whores. They’ve been labeled hysterical, crazy, dangerous, delusional, bitter, jealous, irrational, emotional, dramatic, vindictive, petty, hormonal. They’ve been shunned, ignored, drugged, locked up and killed, kept in line with laws and threats and violence… a woman should aspire to be a lady, and ladies don’t get angry.” (Lilly Danceyger, Burn It Down: Women Writing About Anger)

Women, do you not enjoy being called a bitch when you express an opinion someone doesn’t agree with?

Here’s some things you can do:

1) Tamp down your anger and turn those feelings inward; Choose depression instead.

You’ll be so focused on just getting up in morning and meeting your obligations, you won’t have time to think or feel anything else.

Sure, you won’t have much energy and will likely spent most of it trying not to kill yourself, and compensating for it with quiet acts of self destruction.

Since you already have lots of experience doing the emotional labor, you can dull day-to-day irritations, and even rage with compulsive overeating, obsessive dieting, workaholism, and co-dependence. Women after all, are so good at multitasking.

Pharmaceutical companies just love this approach. It’s part of a larger marketing trend!

The number of Americans who say they’ve taken an antidepressant over the past month rose by 65 percent between 1999 and 2014…

Sure, denying anger may deepen your sense of desperation and powerlessness.

Between medicating the mysterious chemical imbalances in your brain, and the search for villains in your past whom you can blame (mothers are the hands down favorite), you’ll be be tied up and out of commission for a long time.

But no one will call you a bitch.

2) If you can’t repress your anger with depression, try disguising it as sadness, or better yet, melancholy.

Courtesy of Pixabay

Melancholy is mysterious. No one knows what brings it on. Its sexy in a kind of retro-bohemian way — especially in movies. Just as long as you stay sad (and/or guilty for the anguish you are causing others) while looking hot and wearing little.

“The sad girl is the trope that society is comfortable with. She’s the damsel in distress, you know, the beautiful melancholy. It’s not threatening the way that anger is.” (Lilly Danceyger, interview)

Like depression, the cause of the sadness is inexplicable, but locates in women’s mysterious biology-otherness. Today’s hormonal imbalances are yesterday’s hysteria.

The danger of this approach however is that you could snap, try to destroy a basically decent family man who had a momentary lapse of judgement and end up boiling the family pet.

But the risks are fairly low.

Repression is most effective when you don’t recognize or know what you feel.

“Society has been built around repressing women’s anger so far that a lot of women don’t even realize they’re angry.” (Lilly Danceyger, interview)

If it’s not depression or sadness you are felling, try guilt.

What is wrong with you? you may ask yourself — over and over again.

No one else will be made to feel the least bit uncomfortable.

3) If you simply must express anger, be careful to keep it domestic

You may express anger in the following limited situations:

a) You may express anger as long as it is directed towards a woman and, as long as it’s about a man.

You may raise your voice, hurl insults, even resort to unladylike physical violence as long as your venom is in defense of a man and directed at destroying another woman.

If women are angry together, it must be because they are fighting over a man.

Consider it an addendum to the Bechdel test applied to real life.

Catfights are a dramatic staple of reality television, soap operas, social media and tabloid headlines.

The recent joint decision of Meghan Markle and her husband to leave their royal posts has been reduced to a catfight blame between Meghan and Kate.

Why are catfights such a staple of media dramas?

They fuel the idea that women are natural competitors for the all-valuable male, who remains at the undisputed center of universe.

Who profits from fueling these catfight?

Patriarchy, rebranded for the 21st century

Many men and other women are only too happy to egg on a catfight: It proves that deep down you can’t trust women. See? They really are naturally jealous catty, backbiting, backstabbing, untrustworthy gossips. Left to their own devices, they are just as or even more vicious than men. ( Isn’t it interesting how men start to look fair and trustworthy when compared to the Horrific Harpie)

Feminists in the 1970s called encouraged in-fighting “horizontal hostility” and it is not limited to infighting among women.

Instead of working together in solidarity to fight a common cause — such as patriarchal control, women are encouraged to tear each other down, or to discharge their anger upon a politically-chosen scapegoat.

If you do express anger, know that no matter what; you will no longer be considered “nice.”

Or reasonable.

And you will definitely be called a bitch.

b) Alternatively you may express your anger publicly as long as it is on behalf of someone else, mainly your children, your husband, your family.

Mothers can be mad a drunk driving. You can defend a causes where your children are the victims.

You may even be allowed to express something that looks like righteousness, as long as it is decidedly maternal in scope and feel.

Stay within the sphere of the domestic, and make sure you are defending those who are childlike and “innocent”.

Make sure when you express anger at injustice that is directed at someone else, that your anger is never personal, never about what you have experienced, witness and felt.

And if you try to make it about yourself, or other women, to even hint that there is systemic injustice that is in need of change, you will be subject to the full force of social, political and economic violence.

You will be demeaned and vilified with language that attempts to make you — and your gender — the problem and the target of violence.

You will be definitely called a bitch.

Also: Bimbo. Ballbuster. Dog. Pig. Whore. Cunt. Dumb Bitch. ( A sample list, there’s lots more)

These kinds of insults are expected and socially sanctioned, — what women should expect if they dare to venture an opinion online or questions the status quo in public.

These insults will come from all directions. Even, from mouth of the president of the United States.

There will be a concerted effort to focus the problem once again on your biology or your so-called gender traits, or your nasty personality.

Your intelligence will be attacked, as well as your right to speak at all.

You’re just not likable enough. Or sweet. Or nice. Or relatable enough. Perhaps you can do something with your hair? Change your look to something softer? Bake and share a recipe. Talk about your children, or grandchildren so that people remember you are after all, essentially a mother.

Audience research shows that no one likes an angry woman. It’s just not an attractive or mediagenic. Smile more. A lot.

You will be called a lesbian, because if you are angry and it’s not about a man, but about men and systemic sexism, then you can only be a man-hater.

Definitely not a nice woman. Or even a woman at all, according to patriarchy’s definition.

You may be beaten or forced to watch violence inflicted on someone who speaks out.

You can be fired or denied a job; though they will assure you it’s not personal or discriminatory.

You may have to leave your home, or go into hiding.

You may be threatened with rape or actually raped.

I realize now that even the safer ways women have to express their anger are fraught with danger.

It’s 2020. No laws prevent women from speaking in public.

Yet the inability to hear the depths of women’s anger, and the refusal to give it uptake, erases women’s voices from public discussion.

If women are not allowed to speak about what angers us, and to speak on our own behalf, we are in effect, silenced.

The silence is killing us.

All of us.

These thoughts about women’s anger were sparked by an interview I did with Lilly Danceyger discussing her recently published book Burn in Down: Women Writing About Anger.

Here is a condensed version of the interview:

Listen to the full interview below:



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store