Anger

i am not an angry girl
but it seems like i’ve got everyone fooled
every time i say something they find hard to hear
they chalk it up to my anger
and never to their own fear

ani difranco, not a pretty girl

I get accused of being angry a lot.

Technically, this isn’t incorrect. I have a deep well of anger within me; much like Terry Pratchett, I am an angry person, because I live in this world with all its injustices.

But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about people’s tendency to dismiss what I say because I’m “angry”; to say I’m not worth listening to until I “calm down”.

My husband has this problem too, though I don’t know if his translates to online interactions as mine does. In person, we are both loud people, with loud voices. I’m actually louder than he is, but because he’s 6’6” and very broad-shouldered, people tend to associate more loudness with him than is factual.

If we each had a dime for the time someone has told us to “stop yelling” or to “calm down” because we’re “angry”, we’d have enough money to buy a house in the GVRD.

We’re both big, loud, people, who are angry on the inside but so very rarely let it actually show. Yet people are telling us, constantly, that we’re angry; disbelieving us when we calmly state “No, not angry, maybe a bit irritated”; continually telling us “You’re so angry” until, yeah, well, I’m fucking angry now, because you won’t fucking listen to me and keep telling me what I am.

It kinda feels like being Bruce Banner, or at least I’d imagine it does. Bruce Banner sighs in frustration; people around him gasp and flee and cower. Bruce Banner raises his voice a tiny bit; people trip over themselves to get away from him. Bruce Banner acts like a normal human being and people are like “Why are you HULKING OUT, man?”

People are constantly accusing me and my husband of hulking out when we’re no where near that level of anger. Trust me — it’s hard to miss us yelling. It’s hard to miss us actually displaying anger in person. It’s very fucking obvious.

Online, it seems to be a slightly different issue. I’ve noticed that people in meat-life who tell me I’m angry, or condescendingly tell me to calm down, are often women. Men are more likely not to see my meat-life anger as anger, and instead make fun of me, because apparently it’s “cute”. (Those men get hexed.)

However, online, about 99.9% of the people who accuse me of being “angry” when I’m not (ranting doesn’t actually equate to anger; at most, it means irritation — and if I am ranting out of anger, I usually state that very clearly in my post) are men. Those same men then proceed to indicate that whatever I say when I’m angry is invalid, because my anger makes me stupid and dense and unable to look at other points of view. Or something similar; the arguments they make are different, but equate to the same: don’t talk to me, woman, until you are calmer and more appropriately mannered to speak to your betters.

Being angry when you’re a marginalized person means your argument is invalid, see. This is a rule of the internet.

All of this is to say: if you read my last post and the only thing you got out of it was that I’m angry, you’re wrong, and your reading comprehension is sorely lacking. I wasn’t angry when I ranted about being religious, not spiritual. I was sort of irritated, because, yeah, this is a thing that irritates me, but that’s not the same as anger. That’s not the same as letting the deep well of anger within my being out for a breather. It’s a vent of steam, not a lava flow.

Having a deep well of anger within your being can be exhausting. It can also be empowering; it can fire me up and keep me going when nothing else can. But yes, often it is tiring. I have people who know about this deep well of anger ask me if it isn’t exhausting to be angry all the time.

Well, sometimes. But what, by far, is more exhausting? Having people tell me that what I say doesn’t matter because my emotions are uncomfortable for them. That is far more tiring than carrying legitimate anger for how completely messed up the world is.

I’m a Millennial who’s gotten screwed over, whose future children are going to be screwed over, who looks around and sees a shit-ton of injustice and very little I can personally do about it; of course I’m angry. That doesn’t mean that when I swear, I’m blowing up; it doesn’t mean that my rants are examples of my hulking out, and it certainly doesn’t mean that my arguments aren’t worth listening to.

Stop mistaking steam vents for flows of lava. Stop thinking a rumble means I’m blowing my top. Use the critical thinking skills the gods gave you, find your courage, and stop using emotions you’re uncomfortable with as an excuse to twist my words or say they’re worthless.

If you can’t do that, find another blog to read. One that doesn’t challenge you.

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