My name is Sheila and I am an anger addict. I make no apologies. Anger has gotten a bum rap. Women are not supposed to get angry. It’s, well, its not feminine- conjuring up images of a wild eyed , frizzy haired, out of control, shrew. Not a good look. Well, fugedaboudit, I credit anger with giving me the energy, focus, resourcefulness and balls (for want of a better word) to solve problems, achieve goals and gain respect. And by the way, anger is sexy- oh yeah: flashing eyes, color on your cheeks, chest out, head held high……
So, you don’t believe me? (I was prepared for that), and by the way that makes me angry, which of course sharpens my focus which helps to better demonstrate my thesis or is it premise?
Case in Point:
Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (M.A.D.D.) Do you think those mothers took care of business by going through the steps of grieving and ending at acceptance? No way sister! These women (after the horrific trauma and mourning period) got fighting mad and they got busy, creating an organization that has promoted the awareness and laws that have made our roads safer for everyone.
Anger helps us feel more in control.
Pretty much every study on the subject shows that people feel better and are healthier when they have a sense of control over their lives. In The Anger Advantage: The Surprising Benefits of Anger and How It Can Change a Woman’s Life by Deborah L. Cox, et al. : the author(s) studied the various forms of expression and suppression of anger and its impact on women’s lives, relationships and well being. Their findings showed that when anger is acknowledged and “attended to,” it can be a definite asset.
“Healthy anger fuels effective action,” says William DeFoore, Ph.D. What is “healthy” anger? According to Dr. DeFoore, when anger is healthy “it seems like somebody’s just taking care of business or getting the job done. They don’t seem angry at all! It’s not necessarily loud or aggressive, and it most definitely is not violent.” I was a little disappointed with this definition- but what can you expect, coming from a man?
Its actually beneficial to think angry thoughts (so there, Miss Mary Poppins!). According to researchers in the April 2008 issue of Psychological Science : participants preferred activities that were likely to make them angry (e.g., listening to-anger inducing music, recalling past events in which they were angry) when they expected to perform a confrontational task and were consequently more effective.
Now, I have to admit not everyone has the ability to tap into vast bottomless reservoirs of productive anger, and I do have an unfair advantage: 1) born Jewish , I can draw on over 2000 years of being kicked around 2) I was raised by two world class anger addicts- my father would literally stop talking for months when angered by events such as (well, actually, we never did know why he was angry), my mother was also a champion anger addict – creatively, magnificently and unpredictably angered, she would whirl around with lips tightly pressed together and Joan Crawford (Mommy Dearest) eyes blazing, hurling an avalanche of scorching words guaranteed to linger in your memory for the next 20 years. Ah yes, we rarely see the proportions of that Mt. Vesuvius anger anymore (I’m getting a little sentimental here).
By the way, I’m not talking your pedestrian, wimpy anger when you get behind the wheel- too vague, it can’t be recalled. How often do you reflect on that blue Toyota with the dented fender and bumper sticker, Practice Random Acts of Kindness, that cut in front of you? No, you need substantial, stick to your ribs type anger that can be relived in a moments notice- loyal and responsive like a well trained dog. Great sources of sustainable anger: neighbors, relatives, rap music (a shrine to anger), Rachel Ray (well, that’s just my pet anger button- but feel free to insert your favorite “how the hell did she get that great job/husband/great body boiling point.”
Look, if you believe (note: reread the DaVinci Code) that society has conspired to keep women docile to undermine their power, then you begin to understand why anger is the key to empowerment.
Men get angry- oh yeah they do and they’re applauded for it (and paid big bucks). Who are our publicized female paragons of anger? Roller Derby Queens, Mud Wrestling Bikini Babes. Mockeries of anger champions! C’mon, lets give our anger the respect it deserves. I vote for a National Anger Day- we celebrate our Heroines of Anger- Lorena Bobbitt, Elin Nordegren , AKA Tiger Woods wife- (who knew the petite, Swedish, former nanny had it in her), our mothers or mother-in-laws . Stop trying to “rise above it”, or change your attitude, or count to 10 etc. No, let us begin to stew, simmer and spew our way to taking back our power and being all we can be!
Sheila Appleby Williams is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles (an endless source of motivational anger). She is currently working on her sensational, controversial, destined to be best seller :Authentic Anger: Fret, Fume and Fester your Way to Better Health and Success.