Trigger warning for self-harm and violent metaphor.

Anger is a hard emotion. It can lead to a person doing something they’d never normally do, can lead to inappropriate actions/words, can lead to succumbing to social norms in an effort to get the point across. It can be ugly, destructive, self-harming. It can hurt and hinder.

It is also valuable. Anger, properly managed, directed and used, is effective. It works. Anger is a motivation, a spur to actually tackle an issue rather than letting it slide. Anger is a wake-up call; if you see someone who is angry, you wonder why they’re angry and then maybe you open your eyes and you join them. Anger can even be beautiful.

And we have a right to our anger. When someone treads on us, we have a right to be angry at them. We do not have a right to physically retaliate, but we have a right to safely and constructively express our anger.

Not expressing anger can hurt even more than the original pain that spawned the anger. If it is suppressed, it can boil inside, searing away beneath the bones of our existence and eating into our deepest selves. I have done that. I bear the scars, the scars that resulted from a poisonous brew of hiding, of pretending, of denying and of suppressing negative emotions.

Some of us are trained not to express anger by the kyriarchy. We are told that our anger harms our cause. We are told that we become less sympathetic when we are angry. We are told that we have no right to be angry, because no travesty has occurred. We are told this from an early age, and many of us internalise those messages. Some of us manifest anger destructively, either because that is how we have been trained or because we are reacting against the messages we received earlier. Kyriarchy does not allow for constructive outrage. It runs on destructive rage expressed by those it elevates and suppressed rage from those it denigrates. For the elevated, destructive rage serves to intimidate those they stand on the shoulders of into compliance. For the marginalised, we are not supposed to express our anger because our anger is dangerous.

Our anger is dangerous. The kyriarchy fears our anger. It fears it so much that it tries to train us to deny it.

No more. Every time a person realises the machinations of kyriarchy and its effects, every time a person allows themself that anger at the sheer injustice of it, we become more powerful. It happens often, but not nearly often enough. Once that realisation has been gained, the kyriarchy tries to make the person suppress it again. The person battles through kyriarchal shit every day, every time they try to do something; thus the kyriarchy tries to intimidate us. But we will not be intimidated.

We will not be intimidated. We stand together, united in our strength. The kyriarchy tries to divide us. Sometimes it succeeds – but there are always enough of us standing there to prove that we will never go away. We will never go away, until the kyriarchy must blink and slinks away, to be shunned by all people for ever more.

We are powerful. Sometimes, the slings and arrows the kyriarchy sends us become too much – for some of us. The wounded retreat behind the battle lines to the meagre protection we can offer, but we are still there and still fighting. We, the whole, the many.

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Comments
  1. Darque says:

    While I think that it is true, technically speaking, that anger can be used as an effective tool I find that when anger is used as a tool it tends to distort and twist the original intentions of the person using it.

    I think anger is kind of like TnT (forgive the akward metaphor). It is explosive, destructive and highly effective. But we need to remember that when climates of anger (or negativity in general) flourish, it is more likely than not to bring out the worst in everyone. For one, in a political context there is almost no rational argument that can be used to combat anger. Second, an escalation of anger in one group tends to lead to a mirroring effect among other groups. Finally, anger is only a hair’s breadth from violence. When we bombard people with messages of negativity, anger, and outrage over another group’s actions (real or perceived) then we must remember that we, the ones who have created that climate, are responsible for the actions that result. The flames of anger and violence spare not the arsonist. All are consumed.

  2. JKBC says:

    Yeah – I think it comes back to the good servant, bad master thing. But it doesn’t have to be negative, or expressed destructively; we have not been given any ways to express it constructively, so we must find our own. I’m not talking here about someone sitting there spluttering and banging their fist on the table! And not everyone expresses it in the same way. It can be channelled into many things, and those many things can make a big difference. If we go back to your fire metaphor, you don’t light the fire under a building, as an arsonist. You light it in an engine room, where it can power a factory, or a movement, or a change. Violence is, however, always regrettable but a different thing to anger. One can spawn the other, but neither must.

  3. Kit Beard says:

    I spent many years being told that I wasn’t allowed to express anger, and this led to me bottling it up then letting it burst. The stress and bullying I went through at secondary school (partly because I amused everyone when I got angry, as I was too small to do any damage) led to weekly emotional explosions that you could almost set your watch by.

    These days, I’m doing a lot better. Why? Two main reasons.
    1. I can talk to people about how I feel, and they understand what I’ve been through.
    2. I can take steps to reduce the amount of harm it will do to me in future, or to other people, through various forms of activism.

    • JKBC says:

      It’s not right, being denied a right to your anger isn’t right. I’m sorry that all had to happen. We’re taught that anger is always wrong, when in fact bottling it up can do as much if not more damage. I’m glad you found the ways round it; activism is a good thing to channel anger into.

    • Danny says:

      Being told that you aren’t allowed to express anger in particular ways (such as physical violence) is one thing but expecting someone to just not express their anger at all is wrong. And it can really hurt when you’re told you can’t because of some characteristic.

      I’m glad to see you are doing better Kit.

  4. […] a quote that’s been rattling around my head for a couple of days, ever since re-reading Anger on Anger is Justified. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to […]

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