Mother’s Day Rage Ballad; or, An Incomplete List of My Very Loud No’s

Wanna know my biggest secret?

I am the Incredible Hulk.

always angry

More precisely, I am like the Hulk. I too have a never-ending stream of anger, not far below my surface, that I can tap into at any time.

I didn’t used to know that I had any anger at all. Society exerts pressure at every level to deny women access to their own “unwomanly” rage, to shame them for feeling it, and to gaslight them as crazy, shrill, and irrational if they ever show it.

Dunno about you? but it all really pisses me off.

hear me roar

Add to that my upbringing in a family where only one person was allowed to be angry — explosively, frighteningly so — while the rest of us tiptoed around trying not to provoke him. By our late teens, my brother and I had each decided that we would “never be angry” as adults, attempting instead to banish that most basic feeling from our emotional lexicons. Nothing good ever comes from anger, we reasoned, only hurt to the people closest to you.

Also, to borrow my mother’s words from a few years ago when I mentioned being angry about a medical misdiagnosis (and, more importantly, at the blowhole who misdiagnosed me): “If you’re going to get over feeling angry at some point, better you should just put the anger down right away and not bother.”

Only now, in my mid-40s, have I started to bother. Started to be bothered.

And unapologetically so.

It feels a bit like a perimenopausal hot flash, except the heat doesn’t subside. And I haven’t yet contemplated crawling into the refrigerator to escape it.

hades is fine

For this Mother’s Day, then — in honor of the complicated layers of anger I feel with my mother, at my mother, and on behalf of my mother — allow me to present:

Alice Says NO to Things That Make Me Angry, As Illustrated by .GIFs

1) Trans-People-Hating Bathroom Laws

No, I will not call North Carolina’s HB2, or similar measures elsewhere,”transphobic.” I will not dignify such laws by calling them fear-based; they are about hatred, full stop.

The violent dehumanizing involved in denying a certain minority population the right to use public bathrooms safely has ZERO to do with proponents’ “phobias” — and EVERYTHING to do with maintaining a gender structure that is not only rigidly binary, but also keeps men-with-dicks at the top of the food chain. At the heart of such laws is the “ugly fantasy” of eradicating transgender people entirely, writes legal scholar Tobias Barrington Wolff.

(Now if, along the way, these laws just so happen to also punish the rest of the LGBT population for winning marriage equality in the courts, or deliver cis women and girls a fierce reminder to always define themselves through the lens of sexual vulnerability and dependence? ICING ON THE HATE CAKE TO THE HATERS.)

cake-gif
I’d let him have that one, Lilo. Hate-cake is THE WORST.

2) Using Cis Women and Girls to “Justify” Trans-People-Hating Bathroom Laws

After the massacre of nine African-Americans in a Charleston church last summer, Anne Thériault proposed the hashtag #NotInOurNames as a rallying cry for white feminist women to push back against the evil-yet-terrifyingly-ubiquitous idea the shooter used to justify his actions: that white women need constant protection from rapacious black men.

I said then — and I say again today: HELLS TO THE NO WITH THAT FUCKERY.

Being told today that my own sexual vulnerability is the reason trans women shouldn’t piss in the stall next to mine? Please join in, if you can guess my next words:

HELLS TO THE NO WITH THAT FUCKERY TOO.

#NotInMyDamnName

femtwat
Crotch-lightning: One of the less-publicized side effects of perimenopause.

There is not a single documented incident of a trans person assaulting a cis person in a public toilet. There are too heart-breakingly many instances of the opposite being true. If Ted Cruz is really so concerned, let him be the one who can only take a shit in the privacy of his own home.

Gods know, I would welcome seeing him take a few less shits publicly, yknow, out his mouth.

3) Rape / Rape Culture

Still a real thing.

A real thing that in absolutely no way resembles a trade deficit*.

I will continue shouting NO on this one until my lungs bleed — and the US postal service has been entirely replaced with this space unicorn.

*Also not a thing related in any way to trans people wizzing.

hermione
WIZZING, not WIZARDING. (Though admit it: you’re all now wishing this is what happened in public loos, aren’t you?? #AlmostAsGoodAsCrotchLightning)

4) Oh, and while we’re on the subject of the R-word: Lemme give a special shout-out to Missouri State Rep. Tila Hubrecht for being horrifically horrific!

Or, as my friend JO says, time to get the calendar back out:

13139038_10153614526057934_2035371254905946416_n

5) TRAP Laws and Anti-Abortion Terrorism

All aboard the Nope-train to Nopesville, on the argument that laws designed to close down abortion clinics, restrict abortion access, and generally ensure that people-with-uteruses have the least empowered and most punitive relationships possible with their own bodies and sexuality, are actually — drum roll please! — totes about making health care safe for  women!

UGH. I am so tired of being angry about this, I’ma just keep watching Samantha Bee watch this Texas legislator demonstrate what an ignorant ass uterus-expert he truly is.

And srsly, Texas — just go with Oklahoma’s strategy. It may be completely despicable and unconstitutional, but hey! At least it’s honest!

* * *

[Psst! Hey there, anti-abortion activists protesting right next door to the Two Rivers elementary school in DC! *alice waves politely* Wonder if I could have a moment of your time, while everybody’s watching that video clip?

See, I’ve been thinking about your claims — yknow, the ones where you say it’s a completely freeze peach issue for you to wave placard-sized photos of dismembered fetuses at kindergarteners on their way to school? On account of how much you value children’s lives? Yeah, well…I’ve been thinking how that’s a less-than-fully-convincing argument.

not how this works
Lucifer’s therapist has a point.

I dunno, maybe it’s cuz the guy representing you also “served time in prison for plotting to bomb a Maryland abortion clinic in 2006.”

Maybe it’s the way you’ve been disparaging the school’s request that you cool it with the hollering while the kiddos are at recess as a mere legal tactic of “trotting out already born [sic] children.”

Or maybe I just have sympathy for the mother who would prefer that “abortion” and “killers are coming” NOT be among the first words her 5yo daughter — by which I mean, one of those already-born ones — learns to spell.]

6) “Replica Gun” Headlines

No, Washington Post.

No, CBS/AP.

No, CBS Baltimore.

No, Fox 43.

No, NY Daily News.

The 14yo black boy shot by Baltimore police officers in late April was not carrying a “replica gun,” a “replica pistol,” nor a “replica semi-automatic.”

you have to stop
Enough is more than enough.

The word you are all looking for is “toy.”

He was a child carrying a toy gun.

Here, Fusion, lemme see if I can help you better translate police-spokesperson-speak. Cuz I think what you meant to write was:

“After shooting an unarmed middle-schooler for being scared, the police decided to drag his mother in like some kinda criminal, whereupon she conveyed the utterly unremarkable fact that she did in fact know what toy her child was carrying around to play with today. The police department has decided it’s totes cool with its officers attacking children in this manner.”

In a time when a police association continues to blame a 12yo child for his own death-by-police — and argues that his mother should use the city’s blood money to “educate the youth of Cleveland in the dangers associated with the mishandling of both real and facsimile firearms” [TRANSLATION: “teach black kids which toys only white kids are allowed to play with”] — the language choices you make in your reporting could not matter more.

Oh, and in case you were wondering: Tamir’s mother continues to be an inspiration in her grief. Go report on that, why don’t you.

And call your own mother, while you’re at it.

I’m sure she misses you.

# # #


waiting_to_exhale

Here ends my womanly rage-fest for today!

Thank you for coming on the journey with me. If there’s any feminist anger you feel compelled to get off your chest, please leave me a comment so I can fume alongside you.

And, as reward to us all, please enjoy this space unicorn:


Featured image: Zen Hulk by TerryMooreArt

22 thoughts on “Mother’s Day Rage Ballad; or, An Incomplete List of My Very Loud No’s

    1. Isn’t it though?? Society tends to treat older women as invisible, disposable. I think if more people were clued in about crotch lightning, they’d rethink that decision!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I feel like women in general have a complicated history in general in that in the past women have gotten a bad rap for feeling this emotion and simultaneously have been at the brunt of it often in this patriarchal culture. I am appreciating your piece and others’ essays as well on this Mother’s Day reminding us that real life isn’t always so black and white as what we find on greeting cards and much more nuanced and sometimes angrier than all those sweet sentiments.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed — the saccharine messages so often purveyed on Mother’s Day tend to highlight the most self-abnegating aspects of motherhood/womanhood. Which I say not to denigrate the idea of sacrificing for one’s children — but when that’s the only option celebrated?? The cultural myths of motherhood (a key one being “becoming a mother = fulfilling your destiny as a woman”) are incredibly limiting and un-complex in scope and vision. I think we all (regardless of gender!) suffer for that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Out-of-place reply to your reply: I’m not sure this is relevant, but it comes to mind because it happened shortly after I I quit driving cab, and because it’s about anger. I took a poetry writing class and the teacher said–in an almost offhand way that allowed me to actually hear it–“Don’t fall in love with your anger.” Not “don’t feel it,” or “don’t express it.” Just that fairly quiet “don’t fall in love with it.”

    It took me a couple of years to turn that thought around in my head and think that he might be onto something.

    For whatever that’s worth.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I drove cab for five years, and it–well, let’s say it got me more comfortable with using my anger. That wasn’t the purpose, but it was a nice side effect.

    On the down side, it kept giving me reasons to be pissed off.

    Good post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see how driving a cab would have that effect! Would have BOTH effects.

      It was only earlier this year that I started feeling my anger — feeling it physically, I mean, as a hot tight knot in my chest. Feeling it the way I have heard others describe their own anger all these years. (As an adult, I have tended to go emotionally numb when something frustrating or infuriating happens. Often accompanied by vivid sensations of getting stabbed in the arms, or them being cut open. Which…distracts, shall we say, from any anger!) Feeling anger like any normal person does was such a fascinating novelty, I was almost glad at the person who’d pissed me off!

      ALMOST. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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