I’ve been invoking the iconic “I’m always angry” Hulk line from Avengers a lot lately.
Part of it is me being ironic, because of how bad Avengers was, feminism-wise, and how Joss Whedon is a shitty feminist; I have a lot of really complicated feelings about Marvel and the Marvel Cinematic Universe that currently are taking the form of several unreadable word garbage messes in my Drafts folder, but damn, that line.
I spend a lot of time angry because I live in a demonstratively shitty society that is set up to fuck over a lot of people. I’m relatively privileged; I only check a handful of the marginalization boxes, but it’s enough to have me pissed as hell, and I still want to bring attention to the stuff that isn’t in my marginalization bailiwick because I think that’s the decent thing to do.
I don’t have anyone guiding me on how to use it, so I’m figuring it out myself. A lot of people take issue with a woman speaking loudly and swearing a lot and being willing to call bullshit; tone policing is a classic misogynistic tactic, and attacking people who are angry is a pretty easy way to attempt to preserve the status quo, since it tends to be the people who are being fucked over who are interested in changing it. (I’m one of the fairly privileged ones on this issue: there are some really vicious, awful racial stereotypes regarding the anger of people of color, especially women, additionally, many women of many racial/ethnic backgrounds who are less gender conforming than me also face both invalidation of their anger and their identity is used as an attack against women who express anger, as in the case of the “feminists are all angry lesbians” trope.)
A lot of what living under patriarchy is, for me, is dealing with “I’m always angry”; it’s learning how and when to express that anger and how to deal with it being compounded by misogynists who can’t deal with how I express it. It’s dealing with being told I’m overly angry, harsh, or uncivil; it’s learning how to write productively when I’m seeing red.
It’s always a bit of a relief, for me, to see other women unapologetically displaying anger, especially feminist anger, because the constant invalidation of it that I get from society is really damaging. (Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk is actually way better about this than Bruce Banner is, though going into the details of why is another blog post.) It takes a lot of strength and energy to plow through the society-wide gaslighting that displays itself in ways that vary from the “crazy ex-girlfriend” to the “man-hating angry feminist”. I’m trying to do some of that work, display some of that, and use the energy that I’m getting from it to do something positive, or at least something that might make another pissed off woman somewhere feel less alone; a lot of my interaction online so far has been pointing at things and saying “this is bullshit, and you aren’t the only person who recognizes that it’s bullshit”.
So that’s one of the things I’m hoping to do on barrl, and on the other places you see me online: point out bullshit, laugh at it, rage at it, and avoid the abusive clichés about menstruation, hysteria and mental health. I get the reasons other women have tried to claim “bitch” as a positive thing, but that’s not something that feels right to me, personally. But “I’m always angry” comes a bit closer to expressing a part of my feminism that’s not always easy to explain and that I seem to take a lot of heat for.