Why we need more 'angry women' — Cheryl Chelvam

NOVEMBER 29 — “I am angry. We should all be angry. Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change. In addition to anger, I am also hopeful because I believe deeply in the ability of human beings to remake themselves for the better”.

I quote that from Chimamanda Ngobi Adichieo’s text titled, We all should be Feminist where she addresses issues on gender inequality between men and women specifically in Nigeria, which can be ubiquitously be relevant to most women at this point of time.

Throughout this year, we have witnessed various kinds of anger rousing from different location around the world – since the election of the 45th president of the USA, to reciprocation of Brexit, refugees’ crises, embezzlement of monies, and to the recent tsunami of sexual assault and harassment.

What is interesting about anger is that, it is a secondary emotion; bringing a meaning that anger comes as a reaction or outcome of a particular situation that one is going through. For instance, anger could come as a result of uninformed decision, to being complacent, unfairly represented, victimised, discriminated or even disappointed.

I like anger – simply because it makes me uncomfortable and agitated enough not to blindly be complacent and accepting, and instead to take necessary action that is appropriate. However, when one chooses not to comprise and to argue for what is right, there are huge reciprocations (socially and professionally) that one needs to bear together with the label of being ‘difficult’ and other sexualised remarks.

Reflecting on the articles and opinions that I have read thus far since rise of the sexual assault and harassment tsunami, it doesn’t feel wrong to be angry. The various opinions and experiences that have been shared by these women crystallises my thoughts and anger that I have had all this while.

I am not alone here.

Over the years, I have encountered numerous comments – “You sound angry”, “Don’t get angry”, “You are not being objective”, “You sound bitter” and etc.

All these comments were made by men unsurprisingly, and what I realise now is that I was given the impression it was wrong to show my anger, otherwise easily noted as being emotional; hence not considered level headed or “objective” by these men. But what these men fail to realise is that, the anger usually stems from their action and words that lack clarity of situation, and most of the time, simply ignorant and not wanting to take responsibility or trouble to solve the situation. ‘Easy way out’ and ‘not upsetting anyone’ seems to be the convenient way for most of them.

In the last two months, it’s not unmistakable that ‘POWER’ seems to be resurfacing as the result of the inequality between men and women.

Men in position of ‘POWER’ be it economically, professionally, socially or physically; manipulate and abuse their position for their assaults and harassments. Men are almost autonomously given ‘POWER’ as part of the social structure and cultural norm here. And upon observation, I noticed that this ‘power’ are sometimes handed out to these men out of the free will of some women.

Regardless of how incompetent and irresponsible some of the men can be, some women give and adhere to the position of ‘power’ of these men. And what makes it more interesting is that when these ‘powerful’ men act irresponsibly or unethically, they turn the table and threaten the women to stabilise their jeopardized position.

These threats are not uncommon that it exists in every level and unit in society. What makes the situation worse, that some women come to accept these threats and shortcomings in our lives as a norm. By succumbing to these threats instead of standing up and fighting for one’s own right and respect, the ‘power’ to control and manipulate is then handed on a golden platter to these men. These threats usually involve money, social status, career advancement, or privilege.

There are times that I do not comprehend these negotiations or acceptance by some of these women. And it makes me angry that it is us who allow for these men to act manipulatively and abusively towards us women. I like to believe that ‘POWER’ is equal to RESPECT, that it should be earned and not demanded in any other way especially not by threats or any form of extortion. When a man threatens a woman, it only portrays how fragile or jeopardized one’s position is.

Which would beg the question, what did one do to jeopardize one’s very own position? The inability to act or respond thoughtfully would reciprocate that the other will need to bear the consequences for their incapability’s. How can we correct these men for their wrong doings when we accept and normalise it?

I personally think it’s better to be angry and difficult than to be complacent and accepting. If these women could channel their anger in gaining justice and answers for themselves, perhaps, the younger generation of men can be better. It’s easier said than done, but there is nothing wrong in being angry when you are harassed, or assaulted, or discriminated, or mistreated. If we choose to accept these situations, we are only nurturing for more of these in future for ourselves and the younger generation of women.

Anger can be constructive, if it is channelled and used to protect one’s own right and dignity. There are times when women act and behave in a civilised and polite manner, while men tend to take this as a note of sexual gesture. When we talk and joke and share a laughter with men, it does not mean we want to take it further to sex. When we empathise and comfort you as a friend, it does not mean we are sexually interested in you. We are being humane.

When we raise issues in the workplace, we want justice and fairness; it’s not because we are emotional resulting from our PMSes. We may make things look difficult, but we are trying to solve the problem from a bigger perspective. When male colleagues in managerial position are unable to answer or provide solutions in meetings, they choose to be “OBJECTIVE” when to come to talk to you personally and provide ‘explanations’. And when asked by men whether we want a drink or a ride back or anything sexual, when we say no, we really mean NO.

We are not pulling strings, we are not hackling and we are not playing games.

I used to think that the situation above was not applicable to all men. Now I think otherwise, and I look forward to the day where I would be proven wrong.

I am angry and emotional, and I am just fine with it.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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