Rage Becomes Her by Soraya Chemaly is about how anger manifests itself in a gendered way. The gendering of emotions goes way deeper than you might expect, and Chemaly uncovers them one by one for us. She explains how suppressing women’s anger is the ultimate tool for the patriarchy, because anger is actually a very useful emotion in the fight against oppression. I think I underlined half of this book! There is so much information that I never knew about.
I think this book is definitely one you want to read slowly and let it digest. Chemaly burns through a lot of topics that make you angry but also gives a lot of information about the way patriarchy is built and how this is tied to the way we deal with our emotions. Examples of topics she goes into:
- women seen as objects and sexual violence
- the division of care and unpaid work
- gendered attitude towards anger and other emotions
- gendered power dynamics
- street harassment
- revenge porn
- gendered upbringing and its effects on emotions
And so much more to be honest that it’s hard to make a definitive list.
I want to highlight something I found very important (even though everything I read seemed highly important). Anger is an emotion that we need to fight injustice. I’ll explain why (Chemaly explains it so much better though!): Anger is a hopeful emotion because it assumes it can lead to change. Angry people are more optimistic and feel like they can change or influence situations. Anger is also related to power in this way. Women are taught they should not feel angry and when they do exhibit anger, they are breaking gender patterns. Breaking what society deems acceptable comes with an extensive list of negative effects. So, to have the power to change things such as our oppression, we need to learn how to get angry and properly use this anger.
Chemaly explains exactly in which ways anger is tied to women’s position in society. But also gives tools to deal with anger properly. She explains that making use of your anger in a creative way (not necessarily artsy!) can actually benefit your health and also society. I loved reading this book, but it was also very heavy because of the anger you feel from reading it. However, definitely read until the last chapter because you feel hopeful at the end. Don’t skip the ending, it’s the part that helped me the most. I was already an angry woman so knowing how I could use this anger made me feel relieved.
At times I did feel like some nuances were missing to certain topics, for example, the ‘daddy stitch’ which is supposedly happening to women who get stitched up more tightly after childbirth for the ‘daddy’. Of course, this is horrible but not as common as the book presents it to be. However, if you are looking for nuances on topics that should make you angry, I don’t think this is the right book for that. This is about getting angry and knowing how to deal with that anger. Rage Becomes Her is definitely a must-read!