All year, I’ve been angry at men. Exposers, perverts, secret-keepers. My rage feeds on old violations, the ways they’ve made me feel unworthy. I remember streets where I’ve been followed, and the train where a businessman grabbed onto my knee, asking intimate questions all the way to New Haven. One summer, I learned a trick: wear sunglasses, no matter the weather. They were quiet if they couldn’t see fear in my eyes.
Too many women have had it worse, including Christine Blasey Ford. Reluctant, ashamed, desiring anonymity, she asks for an inquiry. In return: slander and death threats. Sisters, there but for the grace of God go we. These weeks, I sit with friends at restaurants. We talk about Kavanaugh and compare strange symptoms: headaches, sleeplessness, the ooze of old memories. Would anyone believe us if we had to testify? We worry we’re being melodramatic. But what can we do? We’re angry.
“Feminism is the collective manifestation of female anger,” wrote Lindy West in the New York Times last fall. “The Weinstein effect,” said the Atlantic, “is a story of women’s anger, weaponized.” Rebecca Traister, author of the new book Good and Mad, writes in response to Ford’s testimony: “[This] is how women have been told to behave when they are angry: to not let anyone know...to joke and to be sweet and rational and vulnerable.” Female rage has too long been dismissed as histrionics. And anger can be holy. Women are persons in the image of a God who meets injustice with wrath. The Son of Man flipped tables.
But the anger I’m feeling has changed—changed, I think, for the worse. There was always anger at assault allegations: touching, drugging, choking. And at pay gaps, and locker-room talk. Plus annoyance at smaller slights: condescension, domineering. But now there is anger at men for being men: for being different from me, for having opinions, for getting defensive.
This year, I’ve picked little fights with my husband. I shake my head as he tries to discuss: Title IX, consent, alcohol, agency. Once, I would have engaged with him, even if we disagreed. Now I assume he has bad intentions. You don’t understand, I hiss. What I mean is: you can never understand.
I notice myself interrupting more. Or speaking sardonically of “masculine” things just because they are masculine: football, Boy Scouts, military history, hunting. I roll my eyes at my male classmate’s essay, and get snide with my father about maternity leave. I am incapable of listening. Did you see the new Brett stuff? I say to my husband, and prepare for battle, regardless of his answer.