I’ve cried more in the last month than I have in the last year.
I thought it was all about the changing dynamics of our family as my youngest went off to study in England for a semester and my oldest graduating in December. And sure, it was probably part of that.
But mostly it was rage.
I don’t do well with anger much less rage.
I was never taught how to be angry. What to do when I felt angry. I really wasn’t allowed to be angry. Instead, I was taught to be quiet, to be nice, to smile even when I did’t feel like it.
I get it. Another person’s anger is uncomfortable. And it’s really uncomfortable when it is directed at you.
I took a risk when my daughters were young by allowing them to be angry. Allowing them to give voice to that anger even when—especially when—it was directed at me. Some saw it as them being disrespectful or talking back or being brats. I had to let those judgments go and do what I knew was best for our daughters.
The risk paid off. They are incredibly confident, bold, compassionate women unafraid to claim their space in the world, unafraid to speak up to authority figures in order to defend themselves, they don’t look for their worth in boys or men They have taken on active roles in leaderships, inclusivity and social change.
The tears I have been shedding and the tears I hear from friends and women across social media have been shedding are about rage. Rage that peaked while watching the Kavanaugh hearing. Rage that a woman who was sexually assaulted absolutely had to keep a tight lid on her emotions for fear of being dismissed as being too emotional, not credible. Then watching a man step onto the stage in all his righteous anger completely comfortable spewing his venom and tears, confident that it would be seen as a strength and not a weakness.
The women who confronted Senator Flake in the elevator gave voice to our rage and we saw how that voice made difference.
Yes, I shed tears while watching the hearing, but don’t mistake those tears for sadness or softness or vulnerability. See those tears for what they truly are: rage at the systemic misogyny still rampant within all levels of our culture. Rebecca Traister says:
“Most of the time, female anger is discouraged, repressed, ignored, swallowed. Or transformed into something more palatable, and less recognizable as fury — something like tears. When women are truly livid, they often weep.
Maybe we cry when we’re furious in part because we feel a kind of grief at all the things we want to say or yell that we know we can’t. Maybe we’re just sad about the very same things that we’re angry about.”
That rings true to me.
When I cry or hear about women crying during this incredible difficult time I don’t see weakness. I see power.
I see women channeling their rage into signs carried at marches.
I see women channeling their rage into running for office across the country in unprecedented numbers.
Into sending letters and making calls to their representatives to let them know exactly what they are angry about.
Into donating their time and money to candidates who support them, who see them, who hear them.
I see women using their voices.
I recently bought this sweatshirt at Target that declares in bold red letters:
I AM A VITAL VOICE.
It’s a reminder that not only do I have a voice, I AM my voice. When others attempt to diminish my voice, they attempt to diminish me.
I see women no longer willing to be diminished.
Our tears will be seen.
Our rage will be heard.
Our voices will bring the change our anger is telling us is desperately needed.