Do Not Tell Me How Angry to Be

A lot of women are sharing their experiences of sexual harassment and assault right now. I’m not going to do that in any detail.  I have a same laundry list as pretty much every other woman, starting when I was a child. To be honest, it’s just too mundane to be interesting.

(I want to be clear that none of this involved any relatives. I was lucky enough to be perfectly safe at home. It was the rest of the world that was a problem.)

Like most women, I’ve been reflecting on that list for the last few weeks. OK, maybe for the last two years. But a lot more over the last two weeks.

I’m still processing. I’m remembering things I had forgotten. I’m thinking about how those incidents affected me. I’m thinking about how sometimes speaking up worked—when there was anyone to speak up to—but more often than not, no one did anything.

Yesterday, I remembered the cop that laughed at me when I reported a guy openly masturbating in his car in front of my workplace when I was 19 years old. It wasn’t the first time I was treated to such a performance: that would have been when I was 12 years old, waiting in front of my school for my mother to pick me up. And I’m thinking yeah, my president would have done exactly the same as that cop. Laughed at me. Or maybe, like the Republicans on the Senate judiciary committee, told me I was imagining things, or was “confused.” Maybe that’s why I remembered that cop exactly when I did.

I went to two marches opposing Kavanaugh. I did it because I can. I work part-time. I live in the DC area. I am healthy, I don’t mind the heat, I can walk all day, I am not nervous about crowds or cops, I have bail money if necessary, and don’t have to get home in time to pick up the kids from school. Basically, I have lots of middle-aged, comfortable, white privilege to deploy, it would be a shame to waste it.

I also know that my anger doesn’t even approach that of many women whose experiences have been so painful and traumatic that they are uncharacteristically silent these days. I respect that silence: I figure I can march for them, too.

Some people, even those completely in agreement with me politically, consider these protests and marches to be waste of time.  They say it “feels good” but doesn’t accomplish anything.

Yep, that was me, with the pink hat and the Remember in November sign. Photo by Kayce Compton.

First of all, I disagree that it doesn’t accomplish anything. Our country has a long history of protest and civil disobedience leading to change. It’s the American Way. It didn’t work this time, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work the next time.

We also need to keep exercising those protest muscles: to keep pushing back, making clear that we will not be cowed by this ridiculous wannabe authoritarian administration.

Of course it is important to vote, volunteer, and donate as well. But we are women: we can multitask that shit. Protesting does not exclude other activities: it may, in fact, help energize those activities.

Secondly, don’t tell me how I feel! I will be just exactly, precisely, as angry as I need to be about the crap I have put up with in my life. I will express that anger in whatever way I choose. No one else, male or female, can define or calibrate my anger. It is mine.

I am expressing right now as I write. I am expressing it when I march and yell at Congress for that 12 year old girl who couldn’t. For all the other girls who need to see that at least some adults will believe them when they speak up.

And of course, I’ll express it when I vote. It’s not time to burn it all down. Not yet.

This morning, I saw a reference to Kavanaugh protestors as “screaming banshees.” So, I looked up the definition of banshee. I found this in Merriam-Webster.


I’d say it’s probably best to pay attention when banshees scream. And Lord help the man who tells them to “calm down.”




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