Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Joan of Arc, the Founding Fathers…. What do all these folks have in common? They were all human rights activists, and they were called “angry” and “crazy.” Historical heroes who fought for progress and justice were once criticized for being “angry.”
First, let’s debunk the negative stereotyping of anger as crazy and irrational. Anger is a neutral world; it’s a normal emotion. Sometimes anger is justified. When properly addressed, used, and implemented, anger propels us to achieve goals and resist the status quo. Anger also enables us to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. And anger can be righteous, just as it can be ill-placed and poorly managed. Demonizing specific emotions is unscrupulous and rude, as emotions are the barometer to our mental health just as physical sensation/pain is the barometer to our physical health.
“A bunch of angry women…”
He’s just an angry black man…”
“Another angry white male…”
And the most insidious of all claims/stereotypes – “angry black woman.” Do we really need to be dismissing mothers as angry, hysterical, and overly emotional when we live in the first world country with the highest maternal mortality rate? As reported by NPR:
According to the CDC, black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women’s health. Put another way, a black woman is 22 percent more likely to die from heart disease than a white woman, 71 percent more likely to perish from cervical cancer, but 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes. In a national study of five medical complications that are common causes of maternal death and injury, black women were two to three times more likely to die than white women who had the same condition.
The angry fallacy is often the most inhumane of logical fallacies because is dismisses, even excuses, suffering. This nasty fallacy can be applied to any demographic. The angry fallacy is used by liberals and conservatives alike to smugly negate their opponents. Atheists use this fallacy against the religious; the religious use it against the atheists. Women commonly use the angry fallacy against men, and men have another version of it to throw at women: “You’re hysterical.” Both the SJW and dudebro/anti-SWJ crowds sling this fallacy back and forth.
Why doesn’t our critical thinking skills tackle the angry fallacy? The short answer: critical thinking isn’t taught in schools. You’re lucky if you encounter critical thinking in college. Sure, there will be critical theory. But theory is not the same as thinking. Theory is what someone else has thought up. Academia pimps it out as authority.
Public Relations and Marketing specialists have contributed to the problem, what appears to be the most common logical fallacy, passed around the mainstream. Consider all the political campaigns that paint their opposition as angry and all the negative attributes inferred with anger: unhinged, hysterical, unstable, cray-cray, etc. Next time you encounter a claim of anger regarding a person, study that person. Look at their mannerisms, the way they write. Do they make lots of typos? And I don’t mean common ones resulting from auto-correct. Are they coherent in speech and thought? And, no, it doesn’t count as some negative emotion because you lack their vocabulary range.
Think of how often whistle-blowers are derided with “you’re just an angry trouble-maker” or “crazy.” The women who fought for the right to vote were called crazy, angry, and hysterical. Any person, or group, who protests human rights violations is labeled with this very trifecta. Maybe they are indeed angry, but this doesn’t mean they’re crazy.
Still think anger is always a bad thing? If you answered yes, then you’re setting yourself up to be a victim or a victimizer.
Justified anger is healthy. What’s justified anger? Well, if you don’t know, here’s a list of examples: a loved one is disrespected/harmed, your “no” is not taken seriously, your boundaries are disrespected, human rights violations, etc. Healthy anger and healthy expression of anger enables you to prove nay-sayers wrong. If I’d allowed the insults from bad teachers, peers, and exes to make me sad instead of mad, I would’ve wallowed in self-doubt and sadness instead of graduating college. I wouldn’t have earned my Masters if I’d listened to all the jealous women who called me angry and crazy just because I was a female in a graduate program. If I’d allowed my person and my belongings to be continually disrespected out of fear of being called “angry” by abusive exes and in-laws, I wouldn’t have the beautiful marriage and family I do now.
Women may typically catch the angry fallacy from men. However, it’s been women that have thrown the angry fallacy at me. And they did so because I do not write or speak like a typical woman – I’m direct, straight-forward, and logical. My tone is often authoritarian, which is an attribute feminists now classify as “toxic masculinity.” And that’s another entire load of a bullshit fallacy.
It would behoove women not to shy away from their anger, and learn to work with their anger through healthy outlets. From the religious to the new-age, anger has been demonized and declared the mark of the bad/fallen woman. The new-age response that some women have adopted: “Anger doesn’t serve you.” “Let it go.” “What good does it do to be angry?” My response: “Well, for starters, anger reminds me of my right to end our friendship, and tell you to go eat yourself a dick.”
True blue friends don’t police your emotions. They support your right to them. In 2016, we hosted a French college student I had mentored for three years. However, the person who landed in the States was not the same person I met in Europe. Long and tragic story short, she went wild in the USA. Frenchie was extremely disrespectful to myself and my family. I miscarried at two months because of the tremendous stress of hosting her, which turned into foster parenting a twenty-one year old whore. Someone who I thought was one of my closest friends told me not to be angry. You can guess we ain’t friends anymore.
And I’ll close with a nugget of thought for my fellow bloggers and writers. When someone says, “I’m not saying you’re angry, I’m saying your writing sounds angry.” They are saying you’re angry. And they’re lying about having said it. Don’t give your time to people who police, manipulate, and steal your words.