Anger: The Wolf That Feeds You
TW: sexual assault
The first thing I must make crystal clear is that emotions are constantly categorised and socialised into two opposing groups: good or bad. But this isn’t the reality, they must be seen as either comfortable or uncomfortable.
Truth is, all emotions have their gifts, and anger gets a pretty bad rap.
But the emotion is a blessing. It shows us we care, that we are invested, and that something is wrong. So we need to look at each type of anger individually and not as a stigmatised collective.
In many activists, especially young activists, it is quite habitual to abuse anger when we get pissed off and fired up at the things we don’t agree with, in a way that can be alienating to others. Just like sex, drugs or shopping, anger can be addictive, it gives one the sense of power, voice, and a narcotic adrenaline rush. When it is abused, anger loses its ‘high’ and its articulate magic. It is a powerful force which has the potential to be extremely effective when managed properly. If not, anger can be completely counterproductive to social and political progression.
This being said, when anger comes from a place close to the heart, from personal experience, then the tables are turned. When people expect you to push your emotions aside or ‘pause’ them in order to explain why and how they offended you it is the epitome of entitlement.
Recently, I was sexually assaulted. Two ‘friends’ of mine at the time completely questioned the validity of my rape claim. Fucked, yeah, I know. I felt betrayed because they didn’t trust me, disgusted that this happens all the time to other rape survivors, and shocked. I cried and screamed and cursed like one ANGRY fireball motherfucker while explaining to them what constitutes rape. In a situation like this my anger should’ve have been shut down. I don’t owe these two narrow-minded people anything. Not a “What constitutes rape?” pamphlet, not a list of readings, not my forgiveness, and definitely not the reservation of my damn important, very real emotions.
When I did confront them I not only did it with anger, but I did it with quick wit, prepared knowledge, the motivation to declare my being important enough to not be raped.
I did it out of pain.
I articulated myself perfectly: I told them just how disgustingly they were treating me, all whilst while screaming and swearing and crying my eyes out. It’s not my fault if my message didn’t get across due to my ‘hysteria’ (hate this word, it’s roots mean disease of the womb, exclusively for people with cunts), their toxicity and obstinance was to blame. They were left without words. They must’ve known they had done something seriously wrong. The power of anger combined with knowledge and articulation blew them out of the water. That was the last time I ever spoke to them, they don’t deserve any more power in the form of my anger.
When we internalise anger and place a negative label on it, we fail to process it. Avoiding something doesn’t fix the problem.
You can block your nose but the smell of rubbish will still remain; or you can tie up the bag and take the trash out.
It’s awesome to get angry sometimes. It takes courage to stand up to the bully. One act of bravery can change your life, and the lives of others. But sometimes, once is enough. Did I ever tell you about that kick ass time I threw a coffee in my rapist’s face? Yeah it was fuckin’ BOSS! And it was damn brave. I shamed him, revealed his crime, and demanded justice. In a world where political emancipation is a doubtful forecast for a rape survivor, I did something that very little people are able to do. Combat my oppressor with my raw uncensored personal anger. This being said, it’s not very effective to keep getting angry. Remember: anger is power, don’t abuse it. About a month ago I saw my rapist again across the street. I was walking home after a beautiful night with the Moonlight Feminists. I was radiating with happiness. Then I saw him, and I did something very mentally strong. So I saw him. Boiling anger is surging through my veins, triggers are going off, PTSD is doing its thing, I’m reliving the trauma, and it’s a conscious unbearable nightmare. I contemplated screaming at him in front of his friends, shaming him, again. But up until a solid 2 seconds ago, I was having a really good day. I acknowledged that I was angry, and then kept walking. Anger can be good, it can be empowering. But it can also be destructive and draining, specifically when it’s personal. Can’t give that cockroach my precious energy no more.
There is a Cherokee parable that says we all have a fight between two wolves inside of us:
“One is evil- he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.”
“The other is good- he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
And the message is that the wolf that wins is the wolf you feed.
My amazing counsellor told me this allegory after I told her about my ability to rise above the cockroach. Anger is not your enemy, it’s a friendly reminder and little red flag that something ain’t right. And it serves this exact purpose when we move to the magnitude of political anger in revolutionary movements. When the anger of oppression multiplies to the extent of actively creating social groups advocating change, then bring it on. That’s awesome. We need more people to speak up. Get angry and navigate it to all of our benefit, not just ourselves, so we can actually gain the attention of the people doing us wrong. The fruitful forest of social justice movements will only embody the seeds we plant today with family, friends and safe spaces. Let’s not feed it poison. Let there be light.