Today, I Step Aside for Women’s Voices on Women’s Anger

Today’s post includes excerpts from a powerful NYT op-ed from Rebecca Traister, commentary from Roxanne, and actions you can take to derail the Kavanaugh nomination.

First, an important local race:

Santa Fe Meet & Greet Fundraiser for Abbas Ahkil, NM House District 29: Thursday, Oct. 4, 5:30pm-7pm at the home of Marg VeneKlasen, 205 Williams St. Santa Fe. Hosted by Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber, Speaker Brian Egolf, CVNM Action Fund, Mariel Nanasi, and others. Hosts, $500; Co-Hosts, $250; Supporters, $100; Suggested contribution, $100. They are looking for additional hosts and co-hosts. Retake Our Democracy strongly supports Abbas Ahkil, who we met a year ago at a Southwest Organizing Project meeting in ABQ. We look forward to seeing him again and canvassing for him.

District HD29 (Albuquerque’s Eastside), which borders Sandia National Labs and Kirtland Airforce Base, is changing and trending more Democratic – younger families, more immigrants, etc. Clinton won this district by 4 points in 2016, Michelle Lujan Grisham by 16 points, and Maggie Toulouse Oliver by 11. The Republican incumbent Jim Dines, an attorney, has a CVNM lifetime score of 12% and an “A” rating from the NRA. Polling indicates that the incumbent is not well known, and that voters become supportive of Abbas when they hear his personal story and policy priorities.
The Candidate: Abbas Akhil  is an engineer with expertise in energy storage and renewable energy who retired from Sandia National Labs before forming his own energy consulting business. Abbas has spent his entire career in clean energy storage and innovation and wants to bring this experience to the state legislature to craft a sustainable and practical renewable energy future for NM. Website: https://abbasfornm.com/aboutabbas/  Read about his long time interfaith and community work here, June 30, 2017, Muslims and Jews Unite to Support Immigrants

If you can’t make it but can canvass or call on his behalf, dive into Retake Our Democracy’s 2018 Mid-Term Voters Guide. It has information on over a dozen state and legislative races with contact info for each. This is not the time to let others knock on doors. You are the “others.”

Kavanaugh & Women’s Voice

I am stepping aside today and Roxanne is going to introduce one of the most powerful opinion pieces we have read related to the Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh testimonies. My only comment to the women who read this: Stay angry. Stay very angry. It is our only hope.

At the bottom of this page are names and contact info for the four senators who are supposed to be on the fence regarding the Kavanaugh nomination. I encourage all readers to take the time to reach out to friends in these four states and other states with GOP Senators, send them a link to this post, and encourage  them to take action. So much is at stake.

The latest claim coming last night indicating that Kavanaugh routinely got very, very drunk, and when he did he got aggressive and angry. This Yale student describes an incident where Kavanaugh threw a glass of beer in a guy’s face, prompting a fight that ended in one of his friend’s arrest. Kavanaugh may have left his drunken days behind, but as his testimony on Thursday revealed, he retains his simmering anger and his self-righteous sense of entitlement, and he lacks any sense of decorum or humility. Are these not qualities that should be part of a background check?  Is it not relevant that so many people are now coming forward to call out Kavanaugh for having lied?  Is it not relevant that a nominee for the highest court in the land can lie to the Senate? It is up to us to make it clear that the GOP and their largely white male leadership will pay for this and for a very long time. Click here to read this latest charge. While you may not need more evidence, it is possible your GOP friends will need a bit more to move them to act. Read on for two testimonials to women’s right to rage, rage that for far too long has been suppressed by a dominant white male culture.

From Roxanne:

For most of my life when I became very angry or even furious, I found myself in tears. Not because I was “falling apart,” or sad, or remorseful but because girls and women are socialized to not express their anger, and repressed anger leads to tears. It’s still difficult for me, when I’m feeling strong emotions of any kind, to hold back my tears. In certain circumstances it’s embarrassing and, almost always, unpreventable.

When I watched Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony last week, of course I cried. I and thousands of women across America, perhaps across the world, cried. We cried out of sympathy, out of disbelief (that this was happening again), out of sorrow, out of rage.

I thought about how when women cry, it’s seen as a weakness, an inability to “control” emotions. Women’s tears are often not interpreted as stemming from any seriously legitimate concern. Yet when a white male cries, most people think “Wow, something terrible must have happened,” or “he must be experiencing some deep pain.” The double standard strikes again.

I also thought about how deferential Blasey Ford’s demeanor was toward the Senators and prosecutor Rachel Mitchell. I wished she’d appeared tougher, but I understood that being “tough” would be a risky stance, likely inviting her being labeled as “unfriendly,” a “bitch,” or even a “ball buster,” and leading some men to believe she “deserved” whatever happened to her.

Then, I watched in disbelief as Brett Kavanaugh came out twitching, spitting, crying, yelling, and disrespecting Democratic Senators who questioned him. I thought his behavior would surely put an end to his nomination process. How could a federal judge, a Supreme Court nominee, fly so off the handle and get away with it? His anger, contempt, self-pity, and entitlement were so blatant, so uncontrolled, I thought everyone would conclude that he was unfit to be a judge, any judge, let alone a Supreme Court Justice. How wrong I was. In the several days following the hearing, I have been baffled by the numerous accounts of his “courage,” his “well-founded outrage,” his “powerful, honest, and riveting” testimony.

Men are allowed to express their fury, even admired for expressing their fury. A woman who expresses her fury is called “crazy,” “scorned,” or even “a cunt.” We’ve got to move this culture beyond the double standard, beyond the knee-jerk stereotypes. And women have got to do it by being courageous, speaking truth to power and, when it’s called for, expressing their rage. And as more and more women find the courage to do so, I say “get out of our way!” because we’ve been holding it in far too long.

One last thought: yesterday when I read the piece by Rebecca Traister excerpted below, she gave me hope that women’s anger can be a positive force for change. And something I learned after the first Women’s March in 2016 was reinforced: when it comes to anger over the impact of our current political situation, middle class white women have much to learn from women of color, historically marginalized women, exploited women — women who are not new to this fight as many of us are but have been in it every day of their lives, as were their mothers, their grandmothers, their ancestors. So let’s be mindful to step back and listen to these women and, whenever we can, stand behind them, give them the stage. When we unite with these women, our combined courage, and fury, can transform this country.

Fury is a Political Weapon, Rebecca Traister

Excerpts and a link for more from an opinion piece that ran on Sunday in the NY Times. Brilliant.

“Brett Kavanaugh bellowed; he snarled; he pouted and wept furiously at the injustice of having his ascendance to power interrupted by accusations of sexual assault. He challenged his questioners, turned their queries back on them. He was backed up by Lindsey Graham, who appeared to be having some sort of fit of rage over people having the audacity to listen to a woman speak about her life and consider that she might be telling an ugly truth about a powerful man. And, as soon as he was finished, it certainly felt as if the white men’s anger had been rhetorically effective, that we had reflexively understood it as righteous and correct.

Fury was a tool to be marshaled by men like Judge Kavanaugh and Senator Graham, in defense of their own claims to political, legal, public power. Fury was a weapon that had not been made available to the woman who had reason to question those claims.

What happened inside the room was an exceptionally clear distillation of who has historically been allowed to be angry on their own behalf, and who has not.

And outside the room was a hint of how it might be changing.

Most of the time, female anger is discouraged, repressed, ignored, swallowed. Or transformed into something more palatable, and less recognizable as fury — something like tears. When women are truly livid, they often weep.

Maybe we cry when we’re furious in part because we feel a kind of grief at all the things we want to say or yell that we know we can’t. Maybe we’re just sad about the very same things that we’re angry about. I wept as soon as Dr. Blasey began to speak. On social media, I saw hundreds of messages from women who reported the same experience, of finding themselves awash in tears, simply in response to this woman’s voice, raised in polite dissent. The power of the moment, the anxiety that it would be futile, the grief that we even had to put her — and ourselves — through this spectacle, was intense.”

….

“The future will come, we hope. If we survive this, if we make it better — even just a little bit better — the urgency will fade, perhaps the ire will subside, the relief may take you, briefly. And that’s good, that’s O.K.

But then the world will come and tell you that you shouldn’t get mad again, because you were kind of nuts and you never cooked dinner and you yelled at the TV and weren’t so pretty and life will be easier when you get fun again. And it will be awfully tempting to put away the pictures of yourself in your pussy hat, to stuff your protest signs in the attic, and to slink back, away from the raw bite of fury, to ease back into whatever new reality is made, and maybe you’ll still cry angry tears at your desk and laugh with sharp satisfaction in front of late-night television, but you won’t yell anymore.

What you’re angry about now — injustice — will still exist, even if you yourself are not experiencing it, or are tempted to stop thinking about how you experience it, and how you contribute to it. Others are still experiencing it, still mad; some of them are mad at you. Don’t forget them; don’t write off their anger. Stay mad for them, alongside them, let them lead you in anger.”

Rebecca Traister is a writer at large for New York magazine and the author, most recently, of “Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger,” from which this essay is adapted. Click here to read the full opinion piece.

In solidarity,

Roxanne

What To Do: We Only Have a Few Days & You Can Act to Stop This

When writing to your Senator, make it very clear that you view this as far more than a one-time issue, that you view a vote for Kavanaugh as an endorsement of male privilege and that you will long remember any vote for Kavanaugh as a denial of women’s fundamental right to raise their voice and to be believed. And you will not forget. And you will canvass and call for their opponent, you will call together your friends to join you and you will never vote GOP again. Even if you are a Democrat, if you are a constituent in any of these states, let them know you vote, you are angry and there is still a month left to vote GOP candidates out of office.

Collins, Susan M. – (R – ME), 413 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510 (202) 224-2523. Contact: www.collins.senate.gov/contact
Corker, Bob – (R – TN) 425 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510 (202) 224-3344 Contact: www.corker.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/emailme
Flake, Jeff – (R – AZ)  413 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510 (202) 224-4521 Contact: www.flake.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-jeff
Murkowski, Lisa – (R – AK)  522 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510  (202) 224-6665  Contact: www.murkowski.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact
Bonus Points for Vetting Your Anger Just to Feel Good….Any of us, any state.
Graham, Lindsey – (R – SC).  290 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510 (202) 224-5972. Contact: www.lgraham.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-senator-gr.    
Grassley, Chuck -(R – IA).  135 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510. (202) 224-3744. Contact: www.grassley.senate.gov/contact
If you do not live in one of these four states but have a GOP Senator in your state, please let them know how you feel. Click her for a list of all US Senators with their contact information.
.


 

11 thoughts on “Today, I Step Aside for Women’s Voices on Women’s Anger

  1. Thank you for sharing this Roxanne.
    I’d like to offer some other resources for reading:
    In addition to Rebecca’s excellent articles and a new book on women’s rage (https://www.thecut.com/2018/09/rebecca-traister-good-and-mad-book-excerpt.html?utm_campaign=nym&utm_medium=s1&utm_source=fb ), Soraya Chemaly has an excellent book out Rage Becomes Her (http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Rage-Becomes-Her/Soraya-Chemaly/9781501189555) and speaking of moderating our tone, Gemma Hartley’s book Fed Up talks about the cultural messaging that has led us here and asks how we can shift the load and find a way forward.

    And yes! As middle-class white women, it is time to stand behind and beside our women of color friends to support their rage and fury and their work – that is our work now!

    • Thank you, Cecile. Maybe we can create a resource page on the website for readings about women’s issues, including not just print articles and books, but blogs and other websites. If you have a list going, please send it along! Thanks for all that you do. Hugs, Roxanne

    • As a low class white woman I am amazed by the lack of rage, I see incidents, almost daily when I engage with people. I have a friend who works at one of the big hotels downtown. She was born in Mexico, and her back story is amazing. I really don’t know how she keeps it together, and smiles everyday.

      This is not some abstract idea, it is manifesting in our health, and making it difficult to interact in any way, and has been for a long time. The damage from the repressed rage, and injustice is generational.

      It impacts a lot more than we think. If we really look at it, it is horrifying, yet every day there is another justification, or polite smile with an eye-roll. When I talk to the older women, I am amazed that some of them survived, then I realize that many did not.

      This article is slightly off topic, but tech has undermined and mansplained our rage too.

      https://logicmag.io/05-the-automation-charade/

    • Thank you, Gina. Maybe consider writing a guest blog sometime? And thanks for coming to Journey on Sunday — I think I saw you way in back! There’s so much to do. Some days it feels overwhelming, so we have to just get up and say, okay, what can get done today? Thanks for being part of the movement. Hugs, Roxanne

  2. My fury has turned to disgust. We were all told that anger was bad, and it was better to turn it inward.

    Bernie Sanders is demanding an investigation into the perjury. That won’t get any media attention.

  3. Native Women: Decolonization and Transcendence of Identity
    ijme-journal.org/index.php/ijme/article/download/119/228

    The link above is one of many on the issue of ‘decolonization of the mind and heart’ and on how develop a new identity.

    This a male writing, eduardo. Several moons ago I learned about feminism from friends, mostly gay men and women. I use to believe i was a feminist until I learned i had a long way to go to completely change. It is only in the last few years that, as a member of Veterans for Peace, I learned about the above concept. And i am learning that Native American women are at the forefront (so I believe) of this movement. Our millennial patriarchal society has colonized all of us and we all, males and females, need to decolonize ourselves. Like psychotherapy, it takes time and the process may be different for each of us.
    Maybe, the first step is to recognize that both, men and women, are robbed of their humanity very early in life by our ‘socialization’ and both are handicapped by our vicious, violent patriarch society.

    • Some time ago I did a blog post entitled something like; Can we decolonize and decapitalize our minds? Might be worth revisiting. Thanks Eduardo

    • Thanks, Eduardo. The patriarchy has weakened us by making tears shameful. By getting on the other side of this I can feel my own power flowing unimpeded by the fear of being embarrassed.

  4. Thanks, Roxanne. The amount of courage shown by women right now is just incredible.
    I have started to understand and respect my own tears. They are tears of strength and an open heart. I feel people’s pain. Instead of repressing my own pain when I feel theirs, I let my tears flow, opening my own heart to acknowledge their humanity and their legitimate pain. Since I have ceased to feel ashamed of crying, I feel much more in touch with truth and love, letting them flow into and out of my heart.

    I started learning this decades ago when my husband and I took our small sailboat to Mexico and launched it into the sea. I was terrified. I was frozen and unable to do anything useful. When I finally burst into tears which I could no longer repress, I very quickly felt the terror dissipate. I was able to tell my husband what I was afraid of and what I needed from him. And then I was able to become a contributing member of the crew and actually enjoy the trip.

Leave a Reply