Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why Am I Angry?

Last night's BBC4 documentary about the rise of modern feminism (in which I featured several times) was annoying for a number of reasons (but also excellent in other ways and definitely worth watching, which you can do here and at several points later this week on BBC TV).

One thing that I didn't like was how they kept asking the feminists they interviewed why they were so angry. As though feminism were a mental disorder. If I look at things like the 6% conviction rate for rape, the 20-30% pay gap, the pension and poverty gap, the 25% of British women who experience domestic violence in their lifetime I think how can anyone be calm? And think about this - the UK government doesn't recognise risk of female genital mutilation as a valid reason to offer asylum to women entering the UK so your tax money is actually being spent tracking girls down, imprisoning them and then forcing them on to planes to return send them to a place where they will be subjected to FGM. That's YOUR MONEY sending girls to have their CLITORISES CUT OFF. Why aren't you angry (director Vanessa Engle)? What is wrong with you?

And the notion that women "shouldn't" get angry about things is in itself sexist. When Jose Mourinho is on the sidelines of a football pitch screaming and swearing at the referee no-one asks why he's so angry. The conversation in the commentary box is usually about whether or not a penalty was the right decision. And football is a game, supposedly played for fun.

I should be angry about women's rights. You should be angry about women's rights. Vanessa Engle should be angry about women's rights. In fact I think Jose Mourhino should be angry about women's rights. A lot more than he is about some stupid penalty.

15 comments:

Sajarina said...

I guess if Vanessa Engle isn't angry then she's not paying attention, as the bumpersticker goes. Bit unfortunate for a filmmaker, I would have thought.

Dominique said...

There's also the unfortunate perception that one cannot be a 'serious' or 'honest' commentator if one has any sort of vested interest. Perhaps Vanessa has to make the deliberate choice to NOT appear angry?

I actually missed the third episode, though, and haven't caught up on iplayer yet, so I don't know if that possibility fits in this situation, but that's my (perhaps overly generous) thought...

Cruella said...

My point isn't that she isn't angry - my point is that she feels the need to continually ask everyone else why they are. And asking for instance if they get angry about other things, if they have a personality that is inclined towards anger, as though being a feminist was a mental condition...!

JENNIFER DREW said...

Oh but football isn't just a game it is sacrosant hence the reason why Moreno gets angry when a penalty is awarded to the opposing team. Women must never be allowed to get angry because whatever negatively happens to women are all isolated incidents. This includes men's mundane violence continuing to be committed against women. Such acts are all isolated ones. We women must continue to ignore such social issues because they are not relevant. Now football is a totally different ball game!!

Not forgetting it is men's right to get angry because 'anger' is masculine not feminine!

James said...

The attempt to classify any sort of progressive ideology as a mental disorder is not a new one. Although it's more associated with Ceausescu and similar than the BBC.

Hannah Mudge said...

Yes, let us not forget that being angry just isn't 'ladylike', girls! So anything we're angry about is clearly nothing we should be worrying our pretty little heads about. I haven't seen the third episode yet but reading blog posts about it is making me angry enough!

sianandcrookedrib said...

well said. of course i'm angry! and it doesn't mean i am angry about everything, or am a naturally angry person, it means i am rightly and understandably angry about injustice and opression. anger is the only rational response!

JenniferRuth said...

I'm so glad you brought this up - it is exactly what I was thinking as I watched this programme. Of COURSE they are angry! Anger is an appropriate emotional response to sexism!

I'm more interested in why people aren't angry...

butterflywings said...

Meh, that whole series annoyed me.

Exactly JR, it's more odd that some people *aren't* angry.

James Mullinger: The Bad Boy Of Feminism said...

Very well said Kate. Spot on as ever. The 'angry feminist' is an offensive stereotype and a myth that has been perpetuated to undermine the cause from the beginning. It allows people to ignore what's being said because, 'oh those feminists, they are all so angry'. bell hooks has written at length about this, I think in 'Remembered Rapture'.

Becca said...

Yeah I found that "why are you so angry?" question so grating.

The whole asking parents about their children's "extreme/radical" beliefs really pissed me off too. EXTREME? RADICAL? Come on! Have these people got any idea of what radical politics actually looks like?

Patrick said...

I actually thought it was a good question to ask (though I do understand why it grates, and she did ask it rather a lot): like it or not, a lot of people, men and women, genuinely do not understand why anyone needs to make a fuss, or (worse) like to dismiss any discussion by pigeonholing people into the "angry feminist" stereotype.

Asking the question gave the participants the opportunity to demonstrate that yes, actually, they're angry and passionate for very real, rational, meaningful reasons - which they did very well - making it far harder for their views to be written off as being down to "angry feminist syndrome" or mental illness.

What I did find slightly disturbing was the attitude of some of the parents - in particular the "I don't want to know what in my daughter's upbringing caused her to be like this" - surely if your daughter's turned out to be intelligent, thoughtful and caring enough about others to actually do something about it, then that only says good things about how she's been brought up?

ishouldbeworking said...
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Shannon said...

My friends, both men and women, definitly make fun of me when I talk about women's rights. They like to joke and call me a feminist and a man-eater. I think girls that think it isn't serious issue are out of the loop and guys that have the nerve to question it are ignorant. I couldn't watch the video because it won't show it in my area but to hear about a woman who doesn't find it an extreme concern is not really a woman. Check out my blog on women and image. http://bit.ly/b3ENjl

Mary Tracy9 said...

Hear, hear!

Nobody ever asks why men get angry. It's always assumed that they must have a very valid reason, even if it happens to be as vacuous as football.