Author: Soraya Chemaly
Finished on: 25 April 2020
Where did I get this book: Foyles online
“I’m always angry,” says Bruce Banner in Avengers Assemble, just before he turns into the Hulk and punches a giant flying robot.
But it’s okay because he’s a man.
Women learn from a young age that their anger is something to repress. It’s unseemly, inappropriate or, even worse, shock horror, ugly. It’s not how we’re supposed to express ourselves. But the essential premise of Soraya Chemaly’s book is that anger can be a positive force for change. It prevents us from tolerating situations that are unjust, and there’s a case to be made for nurturing and harnessing it.
I read the book Brainstorm by Daniel J Siegel a couple of years ago, which talks about the important evolutionary functions of the tempestuous adolescent brain. He argues that adolescence is not a challenge to be ‘dealt with’ or overcome, but a unique time in human life with many positive aspects that we would do well to value and hold onto.
And there are similarities here in what Chemaly posits about the anger women feel – or should feel – in relation to the inequality we face.
Chemaly certainly details a lot here to get angry about. From the continued prevalence of sexual violence towards women to discrimination in the workplace, there are plenty of reminders that, while we have come so far, we’re still not on a level playing field by any stretch of the imagination.
The assertion here is that nothing will change if we don’t take action, and if we stay calm and accepting then we’ll never take that necessary action. When anger is characterised as something to be ashamed of, it reduces the chance that we’ll feel able to show it, or channel it.
So, embrace your anger, then roll up your sleeves and do something with it. The patriarchy is a giant flying robot, and you can be the Hulk.