I get angry about some things.
And I don’t just mean ‘a little bit pissed off’.
I mean spitting, hissing, frothing, screaming, wanting-to-hit-something furious.
And I’ve only just figured out where the anger comes from, when people talk about things like how gays should burn in hell, or that feminism is evil, or that there is no such thing as racism in Australia.
It’s because I am fucking terrified.
I find it deeply, deeply frightening that the human brain can fail so spectacularly, can spit out such utter illogical bullshit. It truly scares me, because I like to think that we as a species are better than that.
And all of a sudden my fear goes through this metamorphosis, this strange alchemy that so often happens when we are confronted with something frightening, and it crystallises into anger. It’s a rage that makes my hands tremble and my stomach feel nauseous. It makes my throat block up and my eyes sting. It’s the left-over adrenaline surging through my body, adrenaline that spikes because my very self has been threatened. It is self-defensive anger.
… Which doesn’t necessarily make it misplaced or undeserved, of course. But still, it’s strange to realise something that I think has always been true about myself but I’d never quite put my finger on before. So thank you, I guess, Internet People, for being so fucking scary that you led me to a personal epiphany. Much obliged!
“But why do you bother responding to those no-hopers? Why do you get stirred up?” I can hear some people say. “They’re fundamentalists/rednecks/idiots, you will never change their minds.”
I respond because of natural selection. I have been endangered – okay, perhaps not my life itself, but my basic understanding of the framework of the world (that people are generally decent, and moderately intelligent) has been violently assaulted. And even if it will not make a difference, biology wins out. I instinctively (and furiously) defend. I think, sometimes, that my blood might actually fizz with it. It is the primal scream of SIWOTI Syndrome.
I could write a whole ‘nother blog post titled ‘Why Anger is a Legitimate Reaction To Things That Are Clearly Bullshit’. In debates these days, people tend to treat anger as something that should be avoided at all costs, almost like it is something embarrassing. Like if you’re angry about something, then you shouldn’t be taken seriously. Like we should all be calm and civil and smile and nod when people say things that are blatantly ridiculous.
But when someone makes some textbook racist statement (“if you don’t like it, then go back to where you came from”), then I believe that loudly-voiced disgust is a perfectly valid response – maybe the only valid response. Let’s face it, if you’re not outraged by an outrageously prejudiced statement, then you are probably doing something wrong. (On the topic of righteous anger, Greta Christina comes to mind as a great example.)
As I’ve been writing up this post I’ve also been sporadically continuing the facebook debate on racism that I was involved in, the one that sparked my epiphany. I considered mentioning in this post that I was just waiting for somebody to point out the fact that I was female, and use it to devalue my anger (the classic “Oh, she’s just moody cause she’s a woman!” gambit). And I thought to myself, nah, that’s unecessary. That just makes me look like I’m feeling sorry for myself, playing the victim. It’s too much of a stretch to bring it up in this particular scenario.
Welp, my friends, someone just referred to me as a “softly lunatic feminist”.
LOLZ. YOU CANNOT MAKE THIS SHIT UP.
You laugh or you cry, I guess. Or you play prejudice bingo! That’s always fun. My views are also apparently less valid because I have a University degree. From Narnia. (Because I “don’t live in the real world”… geddit?) And everybody knows that The Intelligentsia are evil!
Anyway, generally speaking, I guess the trick is to let the anger be a fire but not a poison.
I am still working on this trick but I will definitely let the internet know when I figure it out.