This week we released a new issue of Cinders Magazine, our tenth publication if you can believe it! And in it I had some very strong opinions about today’s society and how I deal with my anger at it.
‘I am woman hear me roar’ is an anthem, both literally and metaphorically. It originally comes from the song ‘I am woman’ by singer-songwriter Helen Reddy, released in 1971. Since then it has become the calling card of the feminist movement. And given the events of the last year; the revelations, the horrible crimes that have come to light; the general attitude of the world towards women and their bodies: I’d say we need it now more than ever.
THE GLASS ceiling, #Me Too, gender quotas, sexual assault, microagressions. All of these issues affect different women in different ways. All of them make me want to roar at the sky on a daily basis. And among the world’s women, I’m one of the lucky ones. Those of us who were born cis-gendered, heterosexual and white need to accept and acknowledge that among women as a whole, we haxve privilege, and a lot of it. And this doesn’t mean that terrible things can’t happen to us, or that when they do, the trauma of those actions are diminished. But it does mean that we get given a start that is a couple of rungs up the ladder from other women.
We have to work a little less hard to get to the top. And that’s important to be mindful of when we are looking at our lives. Privilege is just that – a gift. It’s not something that other people want to take away from you – it’s something that they wish that they could share in. So it’s our job to constantly ask questions and learn from other women about their truth, about how we can help make a better world for each other. And then we can go on roaring for ourselves and for each other.
I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I have a lot of things that I want to be roaring about, all of the time. Every time I read a story about a girl who has been attacked; when I see hard working women abused for their jobs online; when I see the lengths some women have to go to be taken seriously in the workplace. And that’s just the macro scale. The big things that make my blood boil. There’s the small scale stuff too. The fact that if I pass a bunch of drunken men on a night out, they will make a comment. The fact that I get nervous every time I see a man walking near me when I’m walking back to my car at night.
The fact that if a sexist joke is told in my presence, people think it’s okay because they have prefaced it by saying ‘Now I’m not a sexist but .. .’ The fact that when I mention that I run a feminist pop culture magazine there are so many people that say: ‘Feminism? Isn’t that a bit extreme?’ Or ‘Are you just jumping on the bandwagon?’ Or ‘Oh, well I wouldn’t know anything about that, I don’t think I’d be interested in it.’ Sigh. I get angry and frustrated by the world around me all of the time. It boils up into a white hot ball, burns up inside and ends up hurting precisely one person: me.
Creativity is the best thing I’ve ever found for dealing with my own anger with the world.
Because those of you out there who are introverts know: inside anger doesn’t do us any good. And unfortunately for us, we’re not great at expressing outside anger all that well. I’ve tried all of the big things. I’ve tried breaking things. I’ve tried meditating at things. I’ve tried to ignore things. None of it works. None of it makes the white boiling ball go away. The only thing that I’ve ever found to be in any way effective is not breaking things, but making them instead. Creativity is the best thing I’ve ever found for dealing with my own anger with the world. I write a poem about my anger. I play my piano as hard as I can, hitting all of the keys too forcefully. I draw a picture with heavy black lines to emphasise what I’m feeling course through me.
I write a story about a girl who is stronger than the world around her. I make a short film about the pressures and anxieties that I deal with. I create a feminist pop culture magazine. In short, I roar. I roar with music and with art and with writing. I roar in a way that my brain will allow me to, in a way that I never regret, feel guilty or embarrassed about. I think it’s because making things doesn’t mean you have to stop being angry. You have to stay angry. The anger is in the thing I’ve created. And if it’s something permanent, then my anger is permanent too. And that’s the biggest relief there is. Because I’m able to put my anger into something constructive, into something new, I can walk away from it. I’ve thrown the big white boiling ball out of me and into something new. And it might not be great, it might not even be good. But it’s no longer in me, and that’s the important thing. I plan on staying angry, and I’ll keep on roaring for as long as I keep on creating. Because I am woman, and they will hear me roar.
Photograph of the author by Martin McDonnell.