During a lunch-hour in Windhoek, Marissa (*) giggled and laughed as she shared with close colleagues shocking incidents of physical abuse she regularly suffered at the hands of her longterm partner and child's father. When asked why she wasn't angry but laughing about it, Marissa avoided answering her concerned colleagues by expelling a question heard all too often, in Namibia: "Ai, wat sal dit tog help om kwaad te wees?" (Eng. "What's the use of getting angry?") And, therein, lies an age-old problem that has been festering in plain sight for, probably, millennia: women's anger.
Anger is defined as an "intense emotional state" that involves strong, uncomfortable and hostile responses to perceived provocations, hurts or threats. It becomes the predominant emotion when a person consciously decides to take action to stop said perceived threats. Anger is visible on the human face, in body language, expressed verbally and by public acts of aggression. According to international corporate communication consultant, Audrey Nelson, Ph.D., anger is "an essential signal that cannot be ignored". Anger, she wrote in 2018, helps us maintain our sense of self by signaling that something in our environment is very wrong, requires action and intervention. "Many women have been conditioned to believe they need to play the peace-maker and not rock the boat. They also believe that harmony is normal. If harmony is normal, then conflict is abnormal. Not true. Psychotherapist Harriet Lerner, of the Menninger Foundation, added the following on the subject of how women who express anger are perceived: "Women who openly express anger at men are especially suspect... The direct expression of anger, especially at men, (supposedly) makes us unladylike, unfeminine, unmaternal and sexually unattractive..."
Collective anger (such as public outrage), for example, brought about extraordinary social and political changes throughout human history. The French Revolution of 1789 was the result...
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