Why Feminist Political Anger Is Making A Comeback – Unpacking The Reemergence Of Feminist Activism In America
What’s causing the resurgence of feminist political anger we’ve seen since early 2017? The Women’s March, #MeToo movement and so many other efforts are fueled by rage and outrage that wasn’t there fifty years ago.
Understanding why this anger has come back with such force is the key to understanding one of the biggest stories of our time.
From male politicians getting away with being angry while women don’t, to the way race and class have divided people, what’s pushing the issue of women’s rights to the forefront can be found by digging into the history behind it all.
When you look at what’s driving the 2017 Women’s March and other modern movements based on awareness, knowledge is power.
Learning about where this surge in feminist rage comes from helps us better understand what we can do to continue making a real difference.
The Subdued Feminist Anger Of The 1980S To Early 2017: A Brief Retreat From Fierce Activism
Feminist political anger during the 1960s and 1970s shaped the modern cultural and legal landscape for us today.
With causes such as Vietnam War protests, racial injustice, and gender inequality, activists became increasingly outspoken about their views.
During this time period, feminists adopted an attitude of “freakishness” wearing unconventional costumes to draw attention to their mission.
They also confronted social issues head-on, aiding in setups such as The Jane Collective which enabled thousands of women to have safe abortions despite the illegality at that time.
These advances started to be rolled back with the election of Ronald Reagan and the so-called Reagan Revolution in 1980.
This ushered in an era of conservative policies that restricted access to topics like abortion rights and clamped down on funding for programs protecting women’s rights.
In addition, middle-class women were labeled as overly empowered shrews and demonized by popular media culture during that time.
As a result of these factors, feminist political anger had largely subsided by the turn of century and entered a state of hibernation until 2017 when it saw an increase in popularity once more.
Feminist Political Anger Rises Again In The Age Of Trump
Feminist political anger flared up in the 1990s, but it was a short-lived flame.
This fire was initially sparked by the humiliation of Anita Hill before the all-male Senate committee and the subsequent confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.
This event resulted in an unprecedented number of women running for political office in 1992, with 24 newly elected women for the House of Representatives and four for the Senate.
This rise in feminist activists soon waned as many feminists chose to move away from this type of politically aggressive anger that characterized 1960s and 70s feminism.
Instead, they adopted a more humorous and welcoming approach to spread their beliefs and message.
As gender equality seemed to be steadily increasing when evidence surrounding it was visible in 2016, feminist anger became a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, this progress was quickly reversed once Donald Trump was elected President later that year.
The Unrestrained Anger Of The #Metoo Movement And The Women’S March: What Was The Cause?
The 2017 Women’s March and #MeToo movement marked a resurgence in feminist political anger.
Before then, it had been simmering beneath the surface, but with these two major events, the emotions that had been stewing burst forth unbridled.
The sheer magnitude of the Women’s March as the largest single-day protest in United States history was proof enough that this was an unprecedented surge in activism, a potent demonstration of public outrage.
Furthermore, many protestors held signs featuring slogans indicative of such anger, such as “Fuck the patriarchy!”
The #MeToo movement further escalated matters by exposing the prevalence of male-perpetrated sexual harassment on a global scale; as more and more victims shared their stories, anger grew within society until its effects could no longer be contained.
Even actions taken to deal with the situation reflected this new sense of righteous indignation – for example Shitty Media Men, a list compiling alleged perpetrators circulating around media industries.
In short, feminism hadn’t disappeared before 2017; it had merely been forcefully repressed until being reawakened through these two major events.
How Gender Double Standards Stifle Women’S Ability To Effect Political Change
Feminist political anger is often linked to a deep resentment of certain societal injustices that women experience daily.
These injustices can take many forms, such as sexual harassment, domestic abuse, income inequality and unequal representation in positions of power.
These injustices not only have an immediate affect on women but also have a lasting impact, taking away from their own projects and goals.
This leads to a deep collective frustration among women which translates into powerful political anger.
This kind of political anger is especially important for activists and marginalized groups because it provides the fuel that drives political change.
Political anger was vital during American Revolution – its driving force was the revolutionaries’ indignation about what they perceived as unfair treatment by the British Empire – yet even now society tries to restrict this same power in women by telling them to stifle their anger.
Feminist political anger is therefore grounded in a real perception of injustice and is key to enabling women to take steps towards ensuring equality.
How Suppressing Women’S Anger Makes It Stronger
In our society, there is a strong belief that in order to be labeled as a “good” or “proper” woman, you must be pleasant, agreeable and soft-spoken.
Any display of anger or discontent is seen as a violation of this ideal.
This puts tremendous pressure on women who want to stand up for their rights and express their feelings, for it is seen as unacceptable for them to express such emotions freely.
The idea that female attractiveness is somehow proportional to whether or not she expresses her negative emotions also plays into this notion.
All too often, women are told to “smile” or otherwise hide the fact that they are feeling frustrated or angry – because it might make them appear unattractive.
This is an incredibly sexist stance rooted in the assumption that women should strive to be attractive before anything else.
These deep-seated sexist notions of female nature and attractiveness have been discouraging women from expressing legitimate anger since time immemorial – but thankfully times are changing and barriers like these are slowly being broken down.
How Women Benefit From Embracing Patriarchy And Supporting The Republican Party
Many women may swallow their anger in order to remain in good graces with their families, even if they believe the men at the helm of their households are wrong.
This can sometimes be due to fear of conflict, or for more practical reasons like economic security.
On the other hand, some female heads of households choose to embrace male power instead in order to benefit from it.
This is seen through research done by Dara Strolovitch, Janelle Wong and Andrew Proctor that discovered white women who supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election were likely married or widowed — suggesting they had a vested interest in preserving and advancing patriarchal values.
This embracing of subordination to powerful men often comes with its own world view, one that rationalizes male domination over women under what is known as white (hetero)patriarchy.
There are various rewards that come with sticking with such an outlook — ranging from greater access to jobs, economic security and romantic attention.
And these rewards explain why many embrace Republican values – which promote patriarchy – when it pays dividends for them.
The Divide Between Women: How Class Divisions Strengthen The Patriarchal Order
When it comes to gender equality and the #MeToo movement, class is another factor that has served to divide women.
We can see this in who has come out the most successful in their stories of sexual harassment and abuse—they typically being high-profile white women in the entertainment industry or politics.
On the other hand, low-wage female workers, such as those in hospitality, service or manufacturing industries, are largely underrepresented in these stories.
This serves to protect patriarchy as it gives women a target for their anger: each other.
This means that instead of fighting against the powerful men who are behind thematic sexism and its prevalence in society, some women have become complicit with its benefits by aligning themselves with powerful white men—advantages may include better access to wealth, housing quality education, and career opportunities.
Other steps these women may take include tolerating male colleagues accused of sexual harassment or assault, reinforcing their positions at the cost of other marginalized women.
Unfortunately those outside of these circles end up taking the brunt of losses—someone like Lauren Greene could find herself swiftly fired and then blacklisted from politics when she brought allegations against her boss.
Thus we can see how class not only severs us from one another but also puts us at odds—female solidarity can no longer be taken for granted as long as certain social structures remain intact.
Anger Between Women: Examining The Divide In A Disunited 2016 Election And #Metoo Movement
It is often observed that when it comes to anger and frustration, women will often target one another instead of working together to make a difference.
This phenomenon can be seen in many areas, including politics.
During the 2016 election between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, an outpouring of anger from both the political left and right was directed at Clinton, with some of her female supporters being particularly vocal in their criticism.
At the time, there was a generational divide between Clinton’s older female supporters and Sanders’ young female supporters – with the former criticizing those on the other side as naive and incapable of making their own judgment.
In casting these young women in such a light, the older women inadvertently reinforced a sexist idea about the capacity for women to think rationally for themselves.
The #MeToo movement also saw this division play out – with older female activists differing sharply in opinion from younger ones about aspects such as how far-reaching and effective changes should be sought after.
And in both cases, it was usually more established or powerful females who had access to prominent media platforms – giving them the ability to share their views widely.
It therefore appears that when it comes to issues relating to gender, women have historically tended to direct their anger toward one another rather than uniting behind a common cause.
The Spark To Explode: How Trump’s Election And The #Metoo Movement Unleashed Feminists’ Long-Suppressed Anger
Women’s anger had been simmering for years, but it took the election of President Trump and the revelations of the #MeToo movement to unleash those pent-up emotions.
President Trump’s comments about women, Mexicans and Muslims was seen by many as the embodiment of white patriarchy, while Hillary Clinton being beaten despite playing “the patriarchy game” highlighted how futile it was even for a woman of her stature to succeed in society.
The #MeToo Movement also brought to light the horrendous stories of sexual harassment and assault that even Hollywood royalty had endured, driving home the point that no one could truly win when playing “the patriarchy game.” These events put a spotlight on entrenched issues in society and caused a swell of long-suppressed emotions to erupt.
From this anger came the historic Women’s March and other protests that have continued since, which collectively have formed an expression of female solidarity and frustration at being overlooked in our society.
The Good and Mad book is all about the power of anger, how it can be used as a force for positive change, and why it’s been held back for so long.
The author’s key message is that women have faced oppressive pressures – from not just society in general but from sexism, classism and racism – to stay silent when it comes to expressing their rage.
With the election of Donald Trump and the growing #MeToo movement, however, these walls are breaking down – leading more and more women to find ways to put their anger into action.
The writer encourages readers to do just that: find productive ways to channel your anger and fight back against oppressive forces.
Look for activist groups in your area or join causes that share your values.
It’s only then, by acting on our frustration, that we will be able to bring about positive change.