Last week I had a huge fight with my boyfriend. I got upset over an issue that we’d talked about many times yet hadn’t resolved. When the problem came up again, I lost it and unloaded on him. I turned into the Incredible Hulk with a skirt. I knew I was on the Highway to the Danger Zone, but my anger outpaced my caution.
In response to my anger, my boyfriend got angry and shut down. We didn’t talk for a few days. Later I realized that my anger wasn’t all directed at him and his anger wasn’t all directed at me. The room was crowded with our issues with our exes, our parents, societal expectations of women and men, there was even room for some of my former male bosses — it was the perfect storm of his issues colliding with mine. It took some time for me to untangle the roots of my anger.
What I was clear about is that I’d been repressing my anger about a lot of things, particularly as it came to men. Women are allowed to feel so many emotions, but being angry is frowned upon especially for black women. There’s this whole stereotype of the angry black woman, which suppresses black women from being fully expressed. Studies show that society rewards men for their anger, but punishes women when we express our anger. Hello Donald Trump!
Women are taught to be caretakers, to be accommodating, to be nice, and to think of others before ourselves. But there’s a point that every women reaches when she’s had enough and woe to the person, usually a man, who is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
The anger I felt was a physical energy so powerful and strong that during the argument I had to move my body to get it all out. Anger is powerful and with love it can be empowering. I don’t want to use my anger as a weapon or hurt anyone, but I do want to learn how to wield it, how to use it.
There’s something to be said for righteous anger. Righteous anger has started many a social justice movement and freed people in the process. And it’s the acceptance and expression of my own anger is setting me free.