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Destigmatizing Anger in Women
Quick Things You Need To Know:
- Expectations of submission are a tool of the kyriarchy. Women are expected to submit to men, people of color are expected to submit to white folks, children and the elderly are expected to submit to the will of middle-aged adults, and so on.
- Those with privilege are so used to being treated with deference that when someone refuses to quiet down and submit, their reasonable reaction is perceived as unreasonable aggression.
- When those with less power claim agency, reject demands from people with power over them, or refuse to conform to social norms, they get labeled as angry, aggressive, out of control, a bitch, and so on.
- People who feel entitled to power – particularly those with nothing to lose by reinforcing established systems of inequality, use phrases like “calm down” to gaslight victims, winning over bystanders and witnesses becuase this language paints the oppressed person as unreasonable. This tool is often used without even realizing that it’s a power play.
- (BTW if you are a woman who has a hard time saying ‘no’ – remember that every time you do, this normalizes the expected behavior of women and makes it easier for those who who look up to you to do the same. See: Maxine Waters reclaiming her time.)
- We’re focusing on feminine anger & aggression here for a few reasons:
- It’s the most accessible topic since it’s becoming more common in kidlit and the popular narrative.
- It’s becoming more acceptable in progressive spaces for white women to get angry and get loud – it is still not anywhere near accepted for people of color, folks with disabilities, or children to express disruptive or emotional behavior.
- A woman refusing to smile at a cat-caller will result in being her labeled as a ‘bitch.’ The act of saying ‘no’ to a request is similarly drummed out of girls by puberty as even setting personal boundaries is seen as confrontational and aggressive.
- So feminine anger this will be our introductory topic to open readers to think about how aggression is perceived by a less marginalized group.
- Once they have had some time for that to sink in, I plan to introduce the raw and justified anger in Indigenous literature and other pockets of society where folks are expected to remain peaceful and calm at all times (example: Asians).
- These are destigmatizing books to show that a woman’s value is not tied to her submissiveness – that women have a right to get angry and vent it.
- Denying feminine aggression is harmful for folks throughout the gender spectrum
- A foundation of toxic masculinity ties masculinity with aggression.
- Which pigeonholes masculine folks into needing to show aggression (alpha male perception of superiority) even if they may not want to. But it certainly doesn’t ask men to reign it in or rule by anything other than intimidation.
- Because we’ve created a social binary of masculinity=aggression, this is polarizing. People who identify as feminine are forced to conform (or take on the additional risk and burden of fighting) the natural consequence that not masculine = not aggressive. Aggressive women creates dissonance and makes people uncomfortable.
- Since angry and aggressive women are viewed as being ‘masculine,’ by that train of thought, their value and social power as women decreases when they show or vent anger and aggression.
- We need to show that a person can still be feminine and angry.
- Many of these books receive angry criticisms for ‘masculinization of girls’ or claiming this is faux-feminism because it’s ‘making girls behave like boys’ because bigots just can’t reconcile anger in women as healthy and necessary parts of their humanity.
- On the flip side, you’ll see folks calling books about kind or gentle boys as ‘effeminate or propaganda for the pussification of boys.’
- Healthy, transformative, and powerful anger
- Aggression itself is neutral and can even be positive – but there are some outlets for it that are (violence, passive-aggressiveness, self-harm or harm to others.)
- We’ll be focusing on healthy outlets for anger (nonviolent, cathartic, change-making catalysts, and so on.)
- I just adore the idea that we’re raising a generation of children who see anger as an empowering, positive emotion – something that drives them to sink their teeth into discrimination and rip out the jugular of injustice.
- I very much want a book on Kali Ma, the compassionate goddess of destruction who strikes fear into the hearts of men. Haven’t found a picture book about her yet though.
- Whining, Tantrums & Outbursts: Books to Help Kids Chill – Transformative, healthy anger
- 6 Mistakes We Make Raising Sons – Books To Prevent Sexual Assault – Toxic masculinity & unhealthy outlets for aggression.
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Quick & Messy Book List:
Women’s History – IRL women who used anger as fuel to enact good trouble
Transforming Pain, Frustration & Anger into action, compassion, courage, Women in history who ate injustice for breakfast then cleansed the whole damn place with a fire of action
- Strange fruit – Billie Holiday and the power of a protest song – Golio – The book starts with Holiday getting fed up when her white bandmates and manager didn’t stick up for her when she was discriminated against in venues. She goes on to sing a song that could get her killed for speaking up.
- When I was Eight – jordan-fenton
- I Am Rosa Parks – with caveats, since the narrative of the story is that she’s tired and fed up. Which metaphorically works, but in truth her activism was much more methodical and planned than that.
- Miss Mary Reporting
- Separate is never equal – duncan tonatiuh
- Seeds Of Change
- Voice of freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, bravery
Bad girls throughout history
bad girls – yoken stemple guay
- Brave Girl
- Shining Star – Yoo
- Nur Jahan of India – shirin yim bridges
- Nadia the girl who couldn’t sit still – gray
- I dissent
- What do you do with a voice like that?
sort these into subgroups below, as well. see women’s history compilations
Assertive girls who refuse to conform, comply, or submit
- Mary Wears What She Wants
- Mrs. Noah’s pockets
- Princess smartypants – Babette
- Phoebe’s Revolt – natalie babbitt
- Tough Chicks
- Red is Best
- Beautiful Warrior – mccully
- Mrs. McMurphy’s Pumpkin – walton
- Tyrannosaurus Rex vs. Edna – rees
- Imani’s Moon
- wild – hughes, irreverent, naughty, villains
- A game of gnomes
- Emily – bedard – not quite furious so much as refusing to conform to a society that puts pressure on women to be social butterflies.
Women who have HAD ENOUGH WITH THIS BULLSHIT
Transformatve anger bubbling over and bursting like water through a dam, inspiring them to take action
- Lucia The luchadora – garza
- Little Witch Takes Charge – hautzig
- not my idea – higginbotham – Disclosure: I got a copy of this for free so I could do the Maker Spotlight about it.
- The Smallest Girl In The Smallest Grade
- Mary Wrightly so politely – bridges
- Noni Says No
- Don’t touch my hair! – miller
- Lila And The Crow
- Real Friends
- Ruler of the courtyard – khan’s girl characters have a common thread of dynamic change. This character starts afraid of everything, realizes someone she loves is in danger if she doesn’t act. So she does something terrifying and this impacts how she sees things she was afraid of before. The illustrations are distractedly horrible, unfortunately. Otherwise this book would be a favorite, but my kids refuse to read it because of the illustrations.
- Abigail the whale
- Paper Bag Princess
- Little Robot (anger turns to bravery in rescuing her friend)
- Louder, lili – choldenko
Unapologetically Self-Accepting & Self-Celebrating Girls & Women
Ladies who refuse to subscribe to a narrow submissive and delicate definition of femininity. Also known as ‘bitches,’ they don’t care what other people think, do not ask for permission to speak, nor apologize for asking for or demanding what they need. Many of these gals are joyfully chaotic, wild, and comfortable being complex individuals who contain multitudes. They know they kick ass and are damn proud of that.
- Moon Girl and devil dinosaur BFF #1 – reeder montclare
- Rock What Ya Got – berger
- Feminist baby finds her voice – brantz – This is the second book in this series. In the first she was more bratty than assertive and it came off like a parody against feminism. This one is a little better.
- I’m a girl – Yasmeen Ismail
- Wild Child – Plourde
- Rudas – horrendus hermanitas
- The Adventures of Isabel – nash
- The Quickest Kid In Clarksville – miller
- Molly Lou Melon
Girls who say NOPE
Contrary, disagreeable, dissenting, and saying all NOPES.
- Interstellar Cinderella – deborah underwood
- Pricky Jenny – delacroix
- Contrary Bear
- The yellow tutu – bramsen
- Sophie’s squash – pat zietlow miller
- Don’t Be Afraid To Say No! – lammertink
- Imogene’s last stand
- The Big Red Lollipop – khan – anger turns to compassion, uses lessons from her experience withstanding unfairness to extend compassion to the sister who wronged her. Also good for restorative justice.
- The Princess Knight – funke
- Princess Grace – Hoffman – problematic execution, but some parts are good. doesb’t say nope so much as “wtf is with this bullshit?”
Girls who stay loud
Loud girls who keep talking when everyone tells them to stay quiet. Girls who get accused of talking too much, moving too much, being too much, who give no shits about being ladylike.
- The Little Little Girl with the big big voice
- Loud Lula
- Princess in training – sauer
Girls who flip a table and are like “fuck this shit,”
Bravery, women who disobeyed, look at notes to remember deets on these ones
- Missing Nimâmâ – florence – anger is there but it’s not transformative, it’s a symptom of awfulness with nowhere to go. Wouldn’t include this in a global anger post – find anotehr way to highlight this book.
- How Mamas Love Their Babies
- Little Red And THe Very Hungry Lion – Alex T. Smith
- brave as can be
- The Worst Princess – kemp
Not women, but including as good examples of healthy transformative anger
I’ll probably add these into the healthy masculinity collection when that’s ready
- Grandfather Gandhi – arun gandhi
- Dizzy – jonah winter – Validating for children of abuse only. I’d avoid reading a book where a Black father hits his son to white kids unless they are well versed in the idea that it’s not just Black parents who can be abusive.
- Miles is the boss of his body – Not a girl, but a good example for this category. There are more of these with male-presenting protagonists because of course there are, so I’m not sure if I’d include this in the finished public collection.