Ask Them Why
I think one of the most telling things about “anger” has been asking why I shouldn’t be angry, either literally in conversation or hypothetically when I’m in the shower thinking about all the conversations I’ll never have but coming up with fire responses anyway.
It mostly boils down to two things:
1.) “You shouldn’t be angry at me” and 2.) “It doesn’t look good/like I think it should look.”
Neither address the truth or justification of my feelings, or even the lack thereof. It absolutely centers their feelings over my experience of myself regardless of the causes. And seriously–if I’m being a huge bitch or have something wrong, then I should be called out. It’s just that for me, their reasons for why I shouldn’t be angry drip pretty shallow and mostly revolve around their discomfort, or my unwillingness to center their comfort even when it’s not directed at them.
On some level, I wonder if they’re hedging? That they’re more afraid of me now and want to make sure I’m not going to go after them. Any angry woman is threat, a possible “false accuser,” “crazy.”
Two friends–at least twice each–determined that because I directed anger toward them (regardless of their own gender) that I must be mad at “all men.” I feel like I’ve been caught in an intersection between the personal and cultural anxieties of a particular group of people who chose to deal with it by trying to control or dismiss me rather than consider having to face their own actions in the future, even as a hypothetical.
The other issue here is how much “angrier” my neutrality is received, and that has a lot to do with the way I’ve been asked to reassure people that aren’t involved in the community case that I’m not angry at them, or I won’t “turn” on them, or that they’re “one of the good ones.”
Even though I feel like what I’ve done to move my case forward–contacting the other women involved, going to the police–was right and actionable, evidenced truth, there are people that see me as more vindictive, more volatile, more of an unknown quantity no matter how transparent I’ve been. In some cases, it’s felt like they wanted more energy from me to reassure them that I don’t have it out for them or “all men”.
It made me think about how men/masc people have to put effort into remembering gender contexts, male privilege, that lots of people are afraid of male-bodied people because it’s #NotAllMen but #EnoughMen. And like, it’s not the same because there are other gender dynamics at play here but I’m not trying to be scary and I try to keep that context in mind.
That said, I think some people have a skewed view of what “scary” from me and other people post #MeToo is right now, and want them to ask why.