Rage Becomes Her is at once the worst and best book to have started in the midst of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation. I was already enraged and this book has so much more to make me angry, but it also puts it into context. Of course, the best thing Soraya Chemaly does with Rage Becomes Her is encouraging us to see our anger as healthy.
Chemaly begins by reclaiming anger. Women are supposed to be sad, not angry. We are not supposed to have the power of anger. Anger is a demand, sorrow is acceptance. Then she spends several chapters reminding us why we should be angry, from pay differentials, the women tax, sexual assault, health care inequities, and the flat-out misogyny that impinges so much on our lives. I would read a bit and then have to get up and chop onions VERY HARD or take a short walk just to walk off some of the anger so I could read some more.
It’s not that I didn’t know a lot of this, but concentrating it is an intense experience. However, Chemaly does us the service of ending with a chapter on turning our anger into more than a fiery furnace so that it is instead, the optimistic demand for justice that righteous anger can be.
It took me far longer than usual to read Rage Becomes Her. This is not because this is not a good book, it’s because it is so very intense. Seriously, if you could measure injustice per column-inch, this book is near the saturation point. In spite of bringing all the scholarly receipts, Rage Becomes Her is a very readable narrative. Chemaly brings herself and her family into the narrative, telling of seeing her mother’s evident, but unexpressed rage and finding herself falling into the trap of perpetuating the ‘good girl” socialization with her own daughter who was being bullied. This kind of honest self-reflection reifies many of the broader themes.
This is not a happy book and it will make you angry, but you should read it anyway. We really need to see the bigger picture. We really do need our anger and we need to employ that anger to make the world less unfair and better for women, not just for us, but for the next generations.
I received a copy of Rage Becomes Her from the publisher through NetGalley.