angry-womanSometimes you realize you need to give a serious response to things that are wrong on the internet, and sometimes you realize all that needs to be said is: isn’t that the worst?

I can summarize the argument of this pointlessly long article in one sentence: In their effort to resist the patriarchy inherent in most evangelical Christian communities, evangelical feminists have gotten too angry to open themselves up to submitting to others and to God. (Which may or may not lead to divorce or suicide—results may vary.)  There’s a few baffling anecdotes along the way that imply obliquely that women’s anger and demandingness kills marriages and that women should be praised for enduring violence because their behavior can eventually turn their abusers around. But the point is: feminism makes women angry and that is bad.

There is a whole lot about this that is just absurd and irritating, and I realize that’s a large part of the reason I find it provoking. But to the limited extent it advances anything like a point, it’s a ridiculous one. The author’s personal anger issues—and those of her mother and dearly departed grandmother—have nothing to do with feminism. The fact that she is so mad! her husband asked her to help him make nachos when she was picking up all those toys off the floor, dammit! may say something about her personal history, but does not reveal anything insidious about a feminist perspective in general. Maybe her husband was being inconsiderate or demanding, and her bristling response was deserved. Even if she was being a total jerk, to present this as an example that all such reactions are wrong, and also evidence that feminism is killing “servanthood,” is dangerously close to repackaging classic anti-feminist propaganda. This is what reactionaries have always done: tried to tell women that their refusal to abide discrimination and abuse was just “too angry,” and that anger isn’t ladylike. Tried to reduce a framework for political action to a negative personal emotion that no one likes to hear applied to themselves, hoping it’ll throw them off the case.

The “anger” epithet is even more powerful in evangelical worlds because it’s seen there as one of the most un-Christian emotions a person can have. I can’t count the number of times in my previous life where a serious concern about justice was dismissed as “too angry” or “rebellious” by Christian authorities of various kinds. The supposed “problem” this author is talking about is a near-total fiction: in almost all religious contexts, the balance still swings way, way toward male prerogative, male entitlement, male enlightenment. I hope things are getting better, but even if they are, anything like true equality or respect for women is a long way off. If there’s a problem with evangelical women in this context, it’s that they’re too supportive of it, too willing to abide chauvinistic theology and policies in their own churches. The idea that, as a group (the author’s “feminist sisters”), they’ve gotten too overheated and closed off to the idea that they should ever serve or submit to anyone is frankly laughable.

Obviously, if someone finds themselves beset with anger at minor daily banalities, they have a problem and need to get help. They may have let their past hurts cloud their present, as the author suggests. But this has nothing to do with feminism or her “feminist sisters”; it’s not clear to me she has any idea what feminism is. Feminism is not an airy mélange of anti-consumerism, religious piety, and self-affirmation. If you want to say being angry is bad, or that serving people is good, say that. Nothing to disagree with there. But the last thing evangelical women and girls need to hear is that their instinctive reaction against servitude and discrimination is sinful.

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About The Author

David Sessions

David Sessions is the founding editor of Patrol, and is currently a doctoral student in modern European history at Boston College. His writing has appeared in The Daily Beast, Newsweek, Jacobin, Slate and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter here.

7 Responses to For the Billionth Time, Women Are Not Too Angry

  1. KayArr says:

    Excellently said. Being angry is certainly a personal issue that arises for various reasons and needs to be dealt with, but it’s not “a feminist problem.” It’s a human problem.

  2. Rebekah Mays says:

    Props for this. The xkcd comic is so apt.

  3. AC says:

    I think Emily’s article was ok, I don’t think she was condoning a man’s marital dominance or that women have
    a lesser,subservient role in marriage – she also called out the men who don’t hold up their end: to love, care, & provide economically, spiritually & as a model of sober & thoughtful leadership. How often we fall short, we are prone to selfishness & complacency.

    Emily reveals that her husband is thoughtful @ considerate (rare qualities in a guy) @ that her mom was overbearing & dominant ( and that when her father was given an unfortunate opportunity to step up, be a better man & actually fullfill his Biblical mandate to actively love & care for his wife, he flourished in that role.

    But your greater point is on the money, I know of men who hold their spouse to a twisted, unBiblical view of dominance & servitude. Their offense is great!

    The stay at home mom has much to get frustrated (and angry) about if they are married to a selfish, unsupportive, abrasive jerk….I say, fume away! And the guy needs to straighten out pronto or declare himself guilty of hypocracy.

    And feminism has nothing to do with it, I don’t think it even needs to be factored in.

    I think your point is a ‘winning’ one, I just think the springboard was falsely identified.

    • AC says:

      I do think she was too hard on herself, we are human, we get angry & frustrated…there is no super standard a faithful Christian can sustain, and it doesn’t mean we are angry activists….so if she was looking to knock feminists & reject her humanity, inability for a false, exaggerated, man-filtered standard…then yes, she was off the mark

  4. Nothing says:

    Re- the example (her getting snippity when he asked her to help him cook nachoes when she was already cleaning) I don’t see that as her overreacting or showing anger issues. I think a lot of times, things like that add up. Like, why would he ask her to help him dk something simple (hell even I can cook nachoes & I burn hot pockets) when she was clearly in the middle of something that anybody with kids has to do multiple times a day & with no help. I think often what comes off as unreasonable anger is merely a response to an ongoing problem in the marriage/relationship. That could often explain daily fits of seemingly unjustified rage. Something simple like “when you’re done with X would you help me with Y” or “if I help with/do X eould you help me here” could mean the difference between a fight & a nice night. Even guys that try to be great husbands forget little things like that. I know I have!

    I think you’re spot on about women in evangelical communities though, the fact that getting angry is attributed to feminism at all instead of just… life, or mistreatment within a marriage! Feminist has become a four letter wordin kour society as a whole, especially with religious types. They figure if a woman exoresses any “negative” emotions, she’s in the wrong, and if she IS a feminist… well that’s the end of that! They just see blind rage & “misandry” whjch is just depressing & counter-productive.

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