Anne T. Donahue on Anger as Armour

Do you want to scream into the abyss before burning it all down? Good—use your fury to morph into the version of yourself that’s most unfuckwithable

A photo-illustration of crabs on a red background

(Photo-illustration: Leo Tapel; photograph: iStock)

Every day is a fresh new hell.

And I know that’s a depressing sentiment. Nearly a year from the US election and a handful of weeks from the Harvey Weinstein revelations, our new normal has come to be a constant state of bracing one’s self. We wait to see what the President tweeted, which rights the GOP wants to take away, who assaulted whom and for how long. We wait to be disappointed, realizing the men we thought were good because we decided they were are the furthest from, and then watch that disappointment extend to cover the men in our own lives who don’t get it, never got it, and can’t figure out why it’s taken us so long to speak up, anyway.

This new normal is exhausting, but there’s power in arming one’s self; in bracing for impact and then wading in. Choosing to read, to listen, and to engage is the first step in unpacking the systemic norms we’ve grown accustomed to before making the changes we should’ve ushered in eons ago. And that’s a coping mechanism in and of itself: in a landscape rich in self care and reminders to chill out, it’s also important to note that action and anger can be a form of self care too.

Which can appear daunting at first, especially when it seems like everything is problematic. But that’s a first and necessary step: to make a difference, you have to acknowledge how shitty it all is and how many of us have been set up to fail. Then, use your anger over this realization to morph into the version of yourself that’s most unfuckwithable—and get to work.

And “work” can be different for everyone. Spend an hour looking up non-profits you believe in. Use what you’re good at to spur awareness and change, even if it’s making bags and selling them with proceeds donated to an organization you like. Engage in valuable discourse about our poisonous norms and the system so many have been benefitting from. Share the work of those you admire, whose voices deserve as many loudspeakers as possible. Listen (really listen) to friends and family members and coworkers and strangers who’ve chosen to share their own stories of abuse, harassment and assault. Call out rape culture when you see it. Donate your time and money to organizations that align with your own passions, or put an end to “open secrets” by speaking out loudly (should you feel safe and comfortable doing so). Bottle your rage and unleash it through your gifts: by writing, by protesting, by educating yourself on what you don’t understand, by offering your platform to someone who can say it better than you. And refuse to engage with the products or work of known abusers. Sure, it’s a bummer not to watch House of Cards or Ben Affleck movies or Annie Hall or Rosemary’s Baby anymore. But also, too bad. Because while it’s your call as to what culture you want to consume, that call comes with the realization that the victims of predators never had the luxury of assuming these public figures were good people. Instead, they only got to see the truth.

The thing is, none of this is going to end anytime soon. Our disappointment in people isn’t going to slow down in the foreseeable future. We’ve hit only the tip of the iceberg of anger, frustration, sadness and the exhaustion that comes with learning yet Another One has done something bad. And to simply sit with those sentiments isn’t enough. Especially since so much of this has been sat on for the last few decades, and it only created a space in which predators thrived and wielded their power.

And if that makes you even angrier, good. There’s a lot of work to do.

More from Anne T. Donahue:
“Sometimes Pettiness Is a Survival Tool”
“I Can Still Be a Grown-Ass Woman Without a Degree”
Not Everyone Needs A Biopic—Especially Not Hugh Hefner