Page 1

Anger Management: On Emotion, Oppression and Being Productive | Canonball

• • • • • • • •

Page 1 of 4

Books Cairo Contingent Etc Movies and TV Music Poetry The Week As We Read It Young Adult Fiction

Anger Management: On Emotion, Oppression and Being Productive May 5th, 2011 · admin · Books 2 comments - Tags: anger, audre lorde, sister outsider, woman as oppressor In our continuing discussion of Audre Lorde’s essay collection Sister Outsider, Audrey Mardavich gets angry. As Lindsay said in her initial post on Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde most often refers to herself as a “Black lesbian feminist.” When I read Sister Outsider, the theme that stood out to me the most was anger. Just as it is difficult to talk about Lorde without talking about each of her identities, it’s even more difficult to talk about her without talking about anger. I started reading Audre Lorde this summer, and I have felt drawn to her work ever since because I am angry. My daily conversations with friends and colleagues generally revolve around the things we are angry about (and there is a lot to be angry about these days — the latest!). Lorde’s essays have helped give me the courage to discuss — and more importantly — the language for beginning the discussions of why I am angry, and who I am angry with. In Lorde’s essay “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism,” she presents a bulleted list of real-life racist exchanges she has had with white women that have angered her. I speak out of direct and particular anger at an academic conference, and a white woman says, ‘Tell me how you feel but don’t say it too harshly or I cannot hear you.’ But is it my manner that keeps her from hearing, or the threat of a message that her life may change? What is the correct way to express anger? How can you express your anger and still have productive conversations? How can we support each other in expressing anger? Lorde’s answer: people of privilege need to learn how to listen. “If we listen to the content of what is said with at least as much intensity as we defend ourselves against the manner of saying.” Lorde points out that women have not developed the tools necessary for dealing with anger. Women who express anger may be accused of being hysterical or crazy. They have been encouraged to be silent about all things, especially their anger — a masculine emotion. In the male construct of brute force, we were taught that our lives depended upon the good will of patriarchal power. The angers of others was to be avoided at all costs because there was nothing to be learned from it but pain, a judgment that we had been bad girls, come up lacking, not done what we were supposed to do. And if we accept our powerlessness, then of course any anger can destroy us. Lorde tells us that her anger is a reaction to racism, especially within the world of women, “woman as oppressor,” and the inability of White women to listen and recognize the oppression of women of Color. To turn aside from the anger of Black women with excuses or the pretexts of intimidation is to award no one power — it is merely another way of preserving racial blindness, the power of unaddressed privilege, unbreached, intact.

file://C:\Documents and Settings\amardavich\Desktop\Audrey\canonballblog_com4.htm

6/2/2011


Anger Management: On Emotion, Oppression and Being Productive | Canonball

Page 2 of 4

Today, Black women have been targeted on billboards as endangering the future of their children. Loretta Ross of Sister Song said this about the billboards: In their first narrative, we were victims without agency unable to make our own decisions, pawns of racist, profit-driven abortion providers. In their second narrative, we were the uncaring enemies of our own children, and architects of black genocide. Michelle Alexander, author of the book The New Jim Crow, reminds us, “There are more African American adults under correctional control today — in prison or jail, on probation or parole — than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.” We are far from where we should be. We need to be angry. We need to be honest and speak to our anger because speaking is the only way to find the language to begin the conversation. We need to listen. I have felt anger very acutely when I am told not be angry, that there is a wrong way to be angry, that I should be quieter, that I should be careful because I could hurt someone’s feelings. But what Lorde reminds me is that it is hatred, not anger, that is the real evil: For it is not the anger of Black women which is dripping down over this globe like a diseased liquid. It is not my anger that launches rockets, spends over sixty thousand dollars a second on missiles and other agents of war and death, slaughters children in cities, stockpiles nerve gas and chemical bombs, sodomizes our daughters and our earth. Share this:

1

Facebook

StumbleUpon

Digg

Reddit

2 Responses to “Anger Management: On Emotion, Oppression and Being Productive” 1. Some links!!: Mother’s Day stories, a sweet zine, and how to deal with anger | on May 9th, 2011 at 12:16 pm # [...] Anger Management: On Emotion, Oppression, and Being Productive The Canonball Blog: “What is the correct way to express anger? How can you express your anger and still have productive conversations? How can we support each other in expressing anger? Lorde’s answer: people of privilege need to learn how to listen. “If we listen to the content of what is said with at least as much intensity as we defend ourselves against the manner of saying.” [...] Reply 2. When Anger Erupts: The Conundrum of Feminist Infighting | on May 12th, 2011 at 7:53 pm # [...] the political is personal, too. And sometimes the people closest to the scene where the anger Audrey wrote about earlier this week gets ignited are people who, in most other situations, we would consider an ally. I’m thinking [...] Reply Leave Your Response audrey amardavich@gmail.com

Name (required) Mail (will not be published) (required) Website

Submit Comment

Recent Posts • • • • •

Say It Ain’t So: Girls Talk About Emo Canonball’s Review of ‘Meek’s Cutoff’ Love at First Sight and Other Cinderella Myths: Margaret Peterson Haddix’s ‘Just Ella’ How We’ll Spend Our Summer, Vacation or Otherwise A Conversation with Teenage Annie on ‘Prom’

file://C:\Documents and Settings\amardavich\Desktop\Audrey\canonballblog_com4.htm

6/2/2011


Anger Management: On Emotion, Oppression and Being Productive | Canonball

Page 3 of 4

Book Club Our next book club pick is Feminism FOR REAL , a new anthology of essays edited by Jessica Yee. We're accepting post submissions until June 17. More about the book, how to order it and what kinds of submissions we're looking for can be found here.

Latest Tweets • RT @HerCircleEzine ...Virginia Woolf does not mention that often stands in the way of female writers: motherhood. http://t.co/q1cL1YN 16 minutes ago • Want to contribute to our series on YA Fiction by female authors? Send me pitches/questions: mia@canonballblog.com - I promise it's fun. 2 hours ago • RT @whattamisaid Stop saying "X is the last acceptable form of bigotry" http://ht.ly/58Fje cosigned! 2 hours ago • Jill Abramson will be the first woman to be editor in the NYT’s 160-year history. http://nyti.ms/lgaE9w 3 hours ago • RT @parisreview “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met Museum?” Feminist artist, filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson http://tpr.ly/mrbUXA 4 hours ago

Search Enter keywords...

Blogroll • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Altmuslimah Amanda Hess Aminatou Amy Andronicus Bibliofeminista Bitch Colorlines Crunk Feminist Collective Double X Echidne of the Snakes Fannie's Room Feminist Music Geek Feministe Feministing Graphic Ladies I Blame the Patriarchy Jezebel Lady Journos Lilith Magazine Ms. Muslimah Media Watch Pandagon Racialicious Rogue Anthropologist Shakesville Sociological Images The Ch!ctionary The Hairpin The Pursuit of Harpyness Threadbared Tiger Beatdown Tom Tom Magazine What Tami Said Womanist Musings Women and Hollywood

Archive • • • • • •

June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011

file://C:\Documents and Settings\amardavich\Desktop\Audrey\canonballblog_com4.htm

6/2/2011


Anger Management: On Emotion, Oppression and Being Productive | Canonball

Page 4 of 4

• December 2010 • November 2010 • October 2010 © 2011 Canonball - Powered by Wordpress - Theme by CP-Themes

file://C:\Documents and Settings\amardavich\Desktop\Audrey\canonballblog_com4.htm

6/2/2011

Anger Management: On Emotion, Oppression and Being Productive  

A response I wrote for Canonball Blog's Book Club selection, Sister Outsider. I wrote about the essay, "The Uses of Anger: Women Responding...