Angry while female

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.


Why, asked thousands of Twitter and Facebook users, can’t a woman be outraged without being labeled a diva?

Anger, as we have been told ad nauseam during this election cycle, is the driving force of American discourse, the bond that unites supporters of billionaire dabbler Trump with the earnest progressives behind Sen. Bernie Sanders. It fuels our commentary, our comedy, our drama, our love of social media. At worst, we have become a nation of venters, easily provoked and quick to condemn.

At best, this time of rage reveals the gap between American desire and American reality. Historically, anger is the tinder of protest, often the only path to reform.

For women, though, it’s a bit trickier, as all those “angry feminists” can attest. As clashing reactions to Ripa and far too many studies reveal, women are still often penalized for getting angry, even when anger is the appropriate reaction to the situation.

During the recent #Oscarssowhite controversy, for example, both Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith announced they would not be attending the ceremony. But it was Pinkett Smith who became, and remained, the butt of angry jokes, many of which boiled down to “…, who said you were even invited?”

The b-word, of course, is cited in study after study about the different perceptions of male and female anger: Where men are considered “firm,” women are seen as “controlling” and worse.

As Ripa discovered, women who react when provoked are still often accused of seeming “crazy” (which, with its evocations of a time when women could be committed to an asylum for rebelling against their husbands or fathers, is in itself a provocation).

“Jealous or crazy,” Beyoncé sings over and over again in “Lemonade’s” “Hold Up,” blurring the words synonymous before deciding: “More like being walked all over lately, walked all over lately / I’d rather be crazy.”

Some of it is a simple question of volume: Men shout in righteous rage, but women who raise their voices are still often seen as losing control or, heaven forbid, “shrill.”

As Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina found during the presidential debates, a woman who talks over a man will be instantly chastised for interrupting, even if she is attempting to answer a direct question, even if she has been interrupted first.

When Clinton answered Trump’s woman-card charge by saying, in a campaign trail speech, that if it meant she supported things like equal pay and childcare, then “deal me in.” Trump responded by simply accusing her of “shouting.”

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