I think there is a lack of useful representation of female aggression, wrath and rage in the Northern European cultures that I am part of. I don’t know how to be angry in a way that I and others can cope with… So I avoid getting angry. Which causes a lot of problems for me – emotionally but quite possibly also physically.
I used to avoid all emotions. Because I didn’t understand them, didn’t know what was what and didn’t know how to express them. All emotions were overwhelming and caused mental chaos and horrible physical sensations.
I’ve gotten better with all of that. I can cope with the physical experience of emotions better, I can sit with my grief and sadness and hold space for frustrations and overwhelm. And feeling joy and excitement is less scary than it used to be.
Anger however is still tricky. People close to me often think I am angry when I am not. When I am being emphatic, direct or passionate. And when I get angry people are scared of me. But I don’t think anyone has ever seen me as angry and raging as I can be. I keep that to myself – mostly I even keep that away from myself.
I have always identified as non-binary – before non-binary was even a thing. But my biology and appearance is what is usually considered female and so that is how most people approach me. Overall I don’t mind – except when I am discriminated against when perceived as a woman – but that is probably for another blog… Being perceived as a woman and angry is a lot of hard work… Internally as well as externally in relationships.
I’ve been watching The Masked Singer recently. Apart from the shouting, exceptionally bad jokes and general ridiculousness of it all, I am enjoying the playfulness of the outfits and the challenge of recognising the sound of someone’s voice. I find it interesting (and disturbing) that all the ‘black’ sounding voices have been voted out of show, while more white sounding voices have made it to the final… White voices have been voted of too, but for me all my favourite voices have gone – and apart from Teddy Sheringham they were all black.
But what I personally have found most interesting was the Duck. From the first time she sang I knew that I had an emotionally intimate relationship with that voice. I knew it was a voice I had spent hours, days and weeks with. A voice that had supported me. A voice that brought me back to some of my most distressing and vulnerable times of my life.
The Duck was Skin from Skunk Anansie…
And after this seemingly strange detour from the subject of this blog, we are now back in touch with female rage.
I have not listened to Skunk Anansie for probably 15 years – maybe 20… But after hearing and seeing Skin on The Masked Singer, I have been revisiting their music from the 90’ies. And realised they have loads of new stuff! But I am amazed at how well I remember all the lyrics and how intimate it feels listening to it again.
Watching action films is a way for me to make space for my anger and I have listened to hard rock, heavy metal and similar genres of music to help me channel my emotions. But both media mainly use male appearances and sounds to represent anger and rage. There are so very few female characters and female voices out the expressing rage in a socially acceptable way.
So when rage rears it’s head inside me it feels somewhat alien and scary. Because it is not about justice, revenge, self defence or self protection which are the usual justifications for feeling angry as portrayed in most Northern European and North American media. Male rage is often about feeling vulnerable and about hiding that vulnerability in one way or another. And I get that kind of rage too. I know it.
But there is something else. Something deeper. Something primal. Something that feels female. It might not be – it might just be that because it is not like the male version of anger I just assume it is female because I can’t escape my social indoctrination. Dualism is hard to let go of.
Skin is able to do something through her voice that resonates with my experience of this deep rage. When I hear Skin’s voice I hear layers of emotions. Complexity. Co-existing realities, everything included nothing excluded or pushed away.
The rage I experience is something to do with honesty – something about refusing to be in denial of anything. As I tend to avoid it, it is hard to describe. But listening to Skunk Anansie a space is created for it.
I might start investigating it. Avoid it less. And explore representations of it.
Note: For me the male and female (and associated qualities) is alive in all of us no matter our biological sex or cultural preconceptions of gender. Hopefully this makes sense…