What’s this about female rage?

People are often surprised when I admit that I’m an angry person. I rarely show frustration or impatience, and it’s difficult for me to be vocal when someone upsets me. I think this is true for a lot of people, but especially for women. We’ve been taught that to be feminine is to act with grace and poise, even when faced with unfairness or unfortunate circumstances—to essentially grin and bear it. 

It’s no wonder, then, that the pressure of these negative emotions builds and inevitably seeks a release. This might be why there has been growing interest among young women in what has been dubbed “female rage.” What is so-called female rage and why is it important? 

The phrase refers to the uninhibited expression of women’s anger. Though female rage could be used to describe any woman’s expression of anger, this particular terminology is more typically seen in reference to representations in pop culture, such as music or films. Some examples include Alice yelling at Jack in the film Don’t Worry Darling, or songs like “Kiss With a Fist” by Florence + The Machine and “Violet” by Hole. Recently, I have seen increasing numbers of Tik Tok film scene compilations that feature screaming female characters, as well as playlists entitled “female rage” filled with songs that express pure frustration or fury. 

Young female audiences latch on to these depictions as a form of catharsis. It is refreshing, even thrilling, to see our rage be shown. This rage can come from so many sources—seemingly small issues that haven’t been given focus, not being listened to or understood, and of course the broad plights of women. Female rage is the final straw, a refusal to continue being silent.  

It could be argued that the interest in female rage is also a reaction to the glamorization of sadness. Sadness has long been romanticized—just think of the entire “sad girl” aesthetic and all of the female singers that capitalize on melancholy. This is because sadness is more easily feminized (and is often considered inherently feminine) as it is inwardly focused and self-destructive. Anger, on the other hand, is focused outward and is considered a more dangerous emotion. Therefore, it is rarely shown—and when it is shown, it is villainized. 

Women often don’t feel comfortable expressing anger because they fear being labeled as too much, unattractive or crazy. Female rage releases all of these fears and demonstrates to the world what it looks like to be pushed to the brink. It is liberating to finally be able to express this anger, but it doesn’t come easy—it’s almost always the result of ongoing repression. 

Acknowledging this repression is essential, as is investigating the reasons for women’s anger. Anger does not exist in a vacuum; it is a direct result of circumstances that need to be addressed. The fact that anger is often a call to action further emphasizes its importance. This ties into feminist philosopher Amia Srinivasan’s 2018 essay “The Aptness of Anger,” in which she establishes that anger is not counterproductive, as some might argue, but rather a fitting response to injustice. Unfortunately, those who express anger in response to their own oppression are often told to tone down their emotions in order to ensure more “productive” discussion—an easy example is women being told to “calm down” without their anger being validated. Srinivasan refers to this phenomenon as affective injustice.                                                                                                  

It must also be remarked that there is still an imbalance even within these expressions of anger. Celebrated expressions of female rage most frequently feature white women, which indicates that there are unjust levels of acceptance towards women’s expression of anger. 

The more intersectional a woman’s identity, the more “threatening” her anger becomes to oppressors and, therefore, the less it is accepted. So while it’s exciting to see women’s anger be spotlighted, there is still a long way to go in ensuring every woman is heard and addressing the causes of their anger. 

To me, this is the main point that female rage is trying to make: women have every right to be angry. That anger is there for a reason, and it deserves to be listened to. 


Happening in and around the White Cube this week…

Expressing trauma through creation, of any form, is healing – How Karina Lafayette is writing and directing her way through trauma. 

Inspired by classics like Charlie Chaplin and Stanley Kubrick, Karina Lafayette has been chasing her dreams of filmmaking since she was a teenager. Following her studies at Dawson College, Lafayette studied in Concordia’s film department until 2015, when she was forced to work full-time, dropping out for personal reasons.

She had the opportunity to create several short films, all published on her Youtube channel, Carus Productions. Among those are a series of vlogs and video diaries, tutorials, and responses to events taking place in popular culture, including a short romantic-comedy, titled A Good Man (2014) and experimental short, Give Me a Smile (2017.)

After creating a documentary about the 2012 student strikes in Quebec, Lafayette made the decision to move to Toronto. There, she began doing short term work in the industry, serving popcorn at film festivals and freelancing on various sets, where she met her now ex-husband.

It was during this time that Lafayette began writing poetry, which would eventually become her first book, Queen of Hearts. She wrote in order to process her experiences. Her relationship, once idealized, was beginning to become increasingly toxic.

Her work speaks to the emotional abuse she experienced while juggling her hopes and dreams for her career, and her relationship. 

About a year after the couple separated, Lafayette lost everything, turning to the streets and shelters with her dog.

Following Queen of Hearts, Lafayette began working on a second project to continue documenting her story. Persephone Rises, available Oct. 16, is a first-hand account of empowerment and perseverance. The name draws from the Greek myth of Persephone, the goddess of vegetation, and Hades’ wife. Persephone’s story is one of unwitting love. Hades, ruler of the underworld, set his sights on her, keeping her as his lover and prisoner in the dark depths. To keep her there, Hades feeds Persephone pomegranate seeds, binding her to him.

It was in this story that Lafayette found comfort, a character that she could relate to. Expressing trauma through creation, of any form, is healing. An article written by artist Terry Sullivan in The New York Times elaborates on four steps to use art to process trauma. Choose a medium you are comfortable with and work when you feel relaxed, don’t be hard on yourself, date and document your work to keep track of your progress and finally, be selective of who you show your work to.

If you are experiencing trauma you would like to express in a safe space, visit the pop-up zen den in the Counselling and Psychological Services room 300-22, Guy-De Maisonneuve building (1550 De Maisonneuve W.)

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