Every lady who has ever cried in the middle of an argument or been told to "calm down" after raising her voice knows that the best way to get other people to dismiss you as irrational is to get visibly upset. I'd say that the pervasive universal brush-off of female anger is fucking bullshit, but I don't want anyone to think I'm crazy.
The Washington Post's Anna Holmes tackles this frustrating phenomenon as it's affected three women currently in the public eye— Michelle Obama, Marianne Gingrich, and Elizabeth Warren.
Holmes first points to the public's reaction to the interview that ABC News conducted with Marianne Gingrich, Newt's second wife. The segment aired on the night of the final South Carolina debate and failed to either garner her any sympathy or drum up any voter derision for her adulterous family values-touting ex husband. Instead, public opinion turned against Marianne, and the Gingrich campaign dismissed her as a "bitter" woman. No one called Newt a "bitter" man when he spent the first 5 minutes of the GOP debate shouting like a drunk uncle whose favorite team just lost the Super Bowl at the moderator who dared ask him a question about his marital history.
Michelle Obama has faced similar public scrutiny about her anger, or perception of her anger, when she told CBS's Gayle King that she was tired of being portrayed as "some angry black woman" after a book came out that characterized her as such. And Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren even had to battle similar lady anger side-eye from Jon Stewart during her recent interview on The Daily Show.
Holmes argues that these three are just part of the next generation of women affected by a harmful stereotype that's spanned much of human history. Lady anger is bad. An angry woman is a crazy woman. Negative feelings from women who are being treated unfairly is irrational. Ad nauseam. She writes,
Females learn to curb their hostilities from a young age, and when female aggression is deployed, it has to be tiptoed around, gussied up with a shiny coat of lip gloss, an updo and a wink or, as evidenced in many a junior high school hallway, communicated passively, along back channels and in whispers.
In fact, women's anger is often mocked in an attempt to dismiss the legitimacy of their feelings.
Michelle Obama, Marianna Gingrich, and Elizabeth Warren are famous for very different reasons, but they're in the same boat with the rest of us when it comes to attitudes toward female anger— no matter who is expressing it, and no matter why they're expressing it, it's wrong. But hey, take it easy, baby. You're being silly.