Earlier this week I sat in circle with 5 other women at my Creative Juices Arts studio.
And everyone spoke to the feelings of rage that were being unearthed because of Christine Blasey Fords testimony about her sexual assault at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh.
One woman talked about the commonly touted statistic that 1 in 4 women have been or will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.
And I said that just in this circle there were 5 out of 6 of us who had experienced incest or rape, so really that statistic is more like 80%.
But then I thought about all the times I was cat-called. Or afraid to walk in my own neighborhood at night. Or was the subject of unwanted touching. Or having my body either ogled or judged. Or having to listen to lewd jokes made in my presence with the sole purpose of making me squirm. Or being dismissed, put down or demeaned solely because I was a woman. Or being pushed aside, threatened or bullied by men just because they can.
And realizing that all of these experiences were death-by-a-thousand-paper-cuts rapes. From this metric women are being sexually assaulted all the time.
Which means that the true statistic is not 1 in 4 but 100%.
100% of women have or will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.
Which is why women are so utterly enraged and completely ready to burn this fucking patriarchal rape culture house down to the ground.
The issues around of rage and anger are extremely complicated for most women on the planet. Rage and anger fall into the realm of the taboo and the forbidden. It’s almost impossible for women to admit that they FEEL rage and anger, much less be willing to express them.
We learn early on that rage and anger are considered to be unfeminine and unladylike. That we will be strongly censured if we are anything other than nice and sweet and accommodating. And even rejected or attacked if we make the mistake of voicing things like frustration, aggravation or displeasure with ANY person or situation but particularly with men.
We have been trained to comply. To be docile and nonthreatening. We learn that our very survival depends upon our ability to control our feelings of irritation and indignation. And we become well practiced in the art of biting our tongues as a way to restrain us from roaring our righteous fury.
Anger and rage are forces to be reckoned with. And they let others know that WE are forces to be reckoned with. They arise in the face of threat and danger. But they also signal that we are dangerous if we need to be.
Anger and rage emerge when we need to create boundaries, to protect what is precious to us and to say THAT’S ENOUGH!
All adult animals are dangerous. They have teeth and claws. They fight back when they need to.
And we are no different. Our anger and rage are another name for embodied fierceness. They are deep springs at the core of our instinctual, wild selves from which our primal vitality flows.
The ability to access and express these ancient energies is a sure fire way to engender respect between equals. If we are equally dangerous and equally powerful then we will think twice before we try and take advantage of one another.
But as women we have been domesticated out of our empowered anger. We have been effectively declawed in the service of the patriarchy. We have been hypnotized into believing that we are weak and unable to defend or take care of ourselves. And we are told over and over again that BEING powerful means that we are unloveable, unacceptable and not really a woman.
We are also taught that anger and rage are inherently BAD things. And that feeling and expressing them means you are an abusive, unloving, non-spiritual, horrible, negative person.
All of this is, of course, utter bullshit. And is used primarily to keep us under control.
Anger and rage are often denigrated and terribly misunderstood. But they are goddess given emotions, just like love and joy. And they are an essential part of our full experience of being fully alive, whole and complete human beings.
We learn about anger and rage through what we have been told but also in how we see them being modeled. And there are very few times when we have seen either of them expressed in a life affirming way. Healthy anger and rage are SO rare that they are thought to not exist. And to make matters worse they are often confused with contempt or violence. But they are inherently neither of those things.
Contempt is the act of behaving towards someone in a disrespectful manner. When you are contemptuous of another you think they are less than you. And of no intrinsic value. And so you treat them badly.
But anger and rage in their healthy expression are NOT about the other as much as they are related to the experience of SELF respect. They show up when someone is disrespecting you or not honoring your boundaries. And you let them know in no uncertain terms that there are consequences to their actions and you will not put up with being treated that way.
Anger and rage are essentially saying a big fat NO to what we don’t want. And making room for that equally big, fat YES.
They are also NOT the same thing as violence. Violence is always an attempt to control another person by taking away their power and their agency to make their own choices. But healthy anger and rage enhances and energizes your ability to choose what you want for yourself.
And finally, being angry or rageful does not mean that you automatically lose control of yourself. They are natural emotional energies that are available to you to use and direct. And if you are in an ongoing and robust relationship with them they won’t overwhelm you.
People lose control ( or act like they’ve lost control) when they feel threatened or powerless. But a sacred relationship with your anger and rage allows you to stay centered in the truth your own power.
Anger and rage can be inspiring. And even joyful. They are emotional evidence that we are connected to our life force. And know how to take care of ourselves.
One of the ways that women are regularly silenced is being told not to be so angry.
But it’s WAY past time to break that silence and allow the power and fierce beauty of our angry and rageful voices to be heard in their full and unapologetic glory. It’s time to speak, to scream, to howl, to yell our rage at injustice and oppression and the patriarchy in all of it’s multitudinous toxic expressions. And to reclaim our power to choose life. To choose love. To choose a free and just world for everyone.