This past week, I was looking for clips of a woman throwing something through a window or flipping a table– really anything that was an outward demonstration of anger by someone other than Alan Rickman:
However, before even looking through the abundance of clips/gifs/what-have-you’s, these are the first five searches that Google tried to automatically fill in for me when I typed in “woman breaking…”
1. “woman breaking things with her breast”
2. “woman breaking chains”
3. “woman breaking watermelon with thighs”
4. “woman breaking through the glass ceiling”
5. “woman breaking stuff with her breast”
Yes, that last one is on there twice. Apparently “stuff” and “things” constitute different matter. While this list is so bad it’s funny, it’s also appalling. I’m certainly not advocating that throwing things or breaking windows is the best and healthiest expression of anger (though come on, you know it’s satisfying), BUT this search result points to a bigger problem. To clarify, let me give you the top five Google search automatic fill-ins for “man breaking…”
1. “man breaking into the white house”
2. “man breaking sound barrier”
3. “man breaking chains”
4. “man breaking golf clubs”
5. “man breaking through door”
Let’s recap. If a woman is breaking something, it must have something to do with her breasts or thighs– any body part that can be separated from the woman as a whole and objectified. Or it has to do with not being able to rise at work above a certain level. Or chains, apparently.
If a man is breaking something, he must be actively doing something- whether that’s running into the White House, performing great feats to break the sound barrier, or beating the shit out of a door or golf clubs. Or chains, apparently.
When I finally did search for any number of gifs with a woman having an outward expression of anger, let me just say that there were slim pickings. Now sure, there are healthier ways of dealing with anger than flipping a table, but I think this just goes to show that just as men are generally taught that crying is only for girls, women are generally taught that getting demonstrably mad is only for men. Maybe nobody sits them down and tells them this, but at least in my experience (though I know this isn’t always the case), if a man flips a table, he’s just an angry man. If a woman flips a table, she must be a crazy bitch.
I know a lot of women stuff their emotions and bottle them up to keep from being called a crazy bitch (or some variation thereof), but I think we all know how successful that generally is. I may be reaching here, but let’s not forget that there’s an entire show called “Snapped” dedicated to women who have murdered or attempted to murder someone- usually their spouses.
The point of all this is to say that, it’s okay for a woman to be angry. There’s a lot to be angry about in the world. Obviously that anger should never be used to hurt anyone, but anger channeled in good ways can accomplish a lot, and the world is in desperate need of angry heroines.
When I’m writing, I try to create heroines who are both angry and express their anger without being ridiculed or stigmatized or clichéd. There are far too many girls and women in literature who stamp their feet, or put their hands on their hips and glare, or simply swallow their anger. I want my heroines (both the ones I read and write about) to be powerful, and when all a heroine is allowed to do is stamp her feet, it trivializes her actions and all she can accomplish. I want my heroines to be powerful in their anger.
I want them to stir some shit up.