Monday, July 3, 2017


Look, to start off, I really do like the mindset of "don't let yourself get mad about things you can't control." That's a pretty general summary, but it is a good philosophy. There isn't much point in getting steamed up about the fact that, I don't know, your favourite chips aren't in stock, you dropped a nice mug full of hot tea, that someone stole one of your shoes from a gym locker (I really suck at examples here). Being mad in these situations isn't going to fix anything. It's not going to get you those chips. It's not going to fix your mug or clean up your floor. It's not going to get your stolen shoe back. It's exhausting and unpleasant and worthwhile to avoid getting mad when it has no legitimate purpose... just that I think people take this too far.

I'm not trying to call anyone out here, either, but I'm so tired of being told, when I am angry and upset about something stupid, that "it's not worth it to be mad." I know that. But guess what? I'm mad. I'm already there, I need to deal with it, and you are not helping by saying this. In the future, could I proactively try to prevent myself from getting worked up? Sure. Is it realistic to expect that I'll be perfect at that? No. Furthermore... it's not always bad to be mad.

I saw a critique of this once somewhere. Someone pointed out how ridiculous it was to focus on trying to cultivate happiness and only happiness. It's a good goal to try and be grateful and see the positive in things, but it's unrealistic to expect that your only emotion is happiness. Newsflash: humans have emotions and we literally can't change that. I agree with the viewpoint expressed in the critique: it is far more useful and worthwhile to deal with your emotions and manage them so that they don't get in the way of your life than it is to try and change them or force them to be something they're not.

The OTHER facet of this is that sometimes emotions like anger are useful, and complacency/ "not letting it get to you" are not. We all know I'm deeply interested in feminism and the feminist movement. That's only become MORE obvious now that I'm out of school and able to do whatever I want. I spend a lot of my day engrossed in feminist analysis, trying to make myself think. I haven't figured out how to make it useful yet, but it's fun and I really enjoy it, and I feel lucky to get to spend so much time engaging with it. One thing I heard recently on this front was someone expressing frustration that women are not mad. "I want women mad, I want us furious." (I'll try to find the credit again; I really liked the post). The post was in response to "choice feminism"- the idea that anything a woman does is OK if she "chooses" to do it. This approach acts like all women make choices in a political and social vacuum, and that apparently they were raised in this vacuum too. Obviously there's nothing inherently wrong about liking to put on a faceful of makeup, but I'm deeply suspicious of the idea that only women like to do that just for themselves. (And that's not me saying women can't think for themselves... but we're all products of our environment, myself included, and it's useless to pretend otherwise). Their argument was that because of this kind of analysis replacing earlier feminist analysis which was extremely critical of femininity and the female gender role, women are now complacent in their own oppression. And they didn't want women to be that way- to think "oh, well, if she chooses to wear makeup it's her own choice." They wanted women to think "why the fuck should I have to wear makeup to look professional, but a man doesn't? Why is that standard in place? It means countless more hours of time and money put into getting ready over my lifetime. That's unfair!" and people tend to be mad when things are unfair (even in cases where things aren't unfair for them in particular). AND THAT IS FINE AND GOOD AND USEFUL. Anger can be a good motivator. Anger causes rebellion. Anger can cause revolution when used correctly.

Which is why I don't feel so apologetic for caring about this shit so much. So many people tell me they don't get involved because it makes them too upset to think about. To which my response is... yes. And it's fine to know where your limits are, take breaks, remember that not everything is bad and that progress has been made. But that progress wasn't made by people who were happy with the way things were. Yeah, this shit makes me angry. But I'm angry because it's unfair. That seems, to me, like a good reason to be steamed about shit.

Of course, women's anger (or really any emotion beyond happiness) is written off as hysteria and we all know that people who are angry about things are always too clouded by their emotions to be clear, rational, or correct about what they're talking about... which further complicates the matter (and also makes no sense. I'm mad about GMOs being labelled as Bad And Evil to the point that companies produce "guaranteed GMO free" products to make money because it makes them Look Good.. but that doesn't mean I don't have a point).

I'm just really done with complacent feminism that insists that everything is fine and women are Free Agents Making Choices With Complete Freedom now and it's all good, you guys. Fuck That. I'm mad, I'm going to always be mad, and I want people to know that it's okay to be mad, I'm mad with you. Your anger can be powerful and a force for positive change, if you figure out how to use it.