Anger and activism


It’s nigh inevitable.

A woman mentions sexism and is accused of shrillness.

A person of color talks about the discrepancy between rates of crime and rates of arrest or punishment, and is told they need to calm down.

A lesbian or gay couple point out the inequities under the law having to do with hospital visits, financial arrangements, visas… and are told that they need to be patient.

After all, anger is a symptom of irrationality, right? The calm, impartial person is the one who can be counted on to judge things fairly.

Not so fast: Anger is useful. It is a motivating factor. Every bit of social progress we have ever made was because someone, somewhere declared that something was unfair and that it was worth getting angry about. The person who is angry is often the one paying




And yet, our society persists in belittling anger. Why? I think it is because people in societies look up to and emulate people in power. And what have they to get angry about? Hell, even if they felt a touch of anger, the really powerful can pay proxies to express it on major media outlets, and keep their calm facade in the bargain.

The dismissal of anger- from troll memes to cries of “hysteria”- the ad hominem attack which claims that if a person is getting angry, it is because they are simply an irrational person, is merely a tool to silence dissent and to maintain the status quo.

Our anger is important, it is valuable, it is essential. No activist movement can do without it, no true democracy can do without it…

And that is why people in power- and those who support them- are so quick to dismiss it. It is a threat to the status quo.

Maybe one which should be wielded cautiously. But one which should be wielded.


Hell yes.

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