This post is also available in: French
The angry feminist. Yes, I’ve been on the receiving end of that stereotype more than once. In today’s guest post, author Cira Mancuso answers the question of what does the “angry feminist” label mean. Her views on both gender discrimination and female empowerment are well worth the read. If this guest post is any indication of what her upcoming book Skin is like, then it is sure to be a compelling page-turner.
Gender Roles in Childhood
My father always dreamed of having a baby boy.
He got me instead.
Despite the attempts to enroll me in every co-ed sport possible, I never became the tomboy my father hoped for. But I also never became the “girly-girl” all my friends seemed to embody. I loved princesses, Belle especially, but I also loved my toy construction desk full of fake power tools. I loved clomping around in my mother’s high heels, but I also decided to be a NASA astronaut for Halloween, covering my barbie jeep in tin-foil to make it a Moon Rover.
Essentially, I was a living juxtaposition, never fitting neatly into either gendered worlds. I drifted easily between the two until puberty, when my visa to the boys club expired and the world of “femininity” was forced upon me.
Gender Bias is a Reality
It’s easy to lose ourselves in our realities, to forget about the great wide world out there. At least, it’s easy for some people. Others are plagued by reality, by the life they were simply born into, and the consequences that come from that fateful chance. I was lucky to have a father who, although he had wished for a boy, fully embraced having a daughter. He never loved me any less because of my gender.
But this isn’t the norm. An estimated 1.5 million fetuses are aborted each year because they are female.
Shocking Stats about Gender Equality
Consider these other simple, yet telling facts, and as you do, think about how they make you feel:
- Less than 1% of rapes lead to a felony conviction
- Approximately 62 million girls globally are not in school
- More than 200 million girls alive today have experienced female genital mutilation
- Women between 15-44 years old are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than they are from cancer, car accidents, war, and malaria
- In the time it took you to read this, 45 girls became child brides – one every two seconds
I will tell you how I feel after reading those numbers: angry.
Dissecting the Angry Feminist Label
Yes, I’m angry.
I am angry because the world has never been so interconnected yet so oblivious to the reality of the condition of over half of the world’s population. Sexism is a pervasive reality that both scientific studies and evidence-based experiences corroborate. Women do not receive treatment as individuals.
Instead, we receive labels, stereotypes, and deconstruction, all to fit standards that are (purposefully) impossible to achieve. Humanity is gendered, and not in a way that simply recognizes gender differences as exactly that—differences—but in a way that uses differences as a tool of oppression.
I passed in the “male world” until I physically couldn’t anymore. Then people put the angry feminist label on me because I didn’t want to be the woman who the world wanted me to be.
This angry feminist label has been propagated to systematically dismiss the absolute truths of gender inequality.
We’re Not Excluding Men as Feminists
Angry feminists are pegged as “man-haters.” But women who are angry are angry because they aren’t listened to. I wouldn’t be angry if the world validated my experiences, instead of ignoring or belittling them.
They’re also treated as a classic example of “women being emotional.” Reacting with “not all men” or “men are feminists too” is a defense mechanism to protect fragile masculinity.
The reality is that the women’s movement has never condemned “all men.” That’s because the majority of us know that there are men fighting alongside and supporting us.
Writing to Empower Women, Including Myself
Writing has been my escape—the paper and pen never deny my reality. My forthcoming book of poetry and prose, SKIN, has an entire section inspired by female empowerment and gender discrimination. The book is about the unspoken; the things we bury and hide beneath our skin.
Women have been screaming their stories from the top of their lungs and all they’ve been met with is the echo of deafening silence.
Some of the pieces stem from my own experiences, but the women around me inspire many of them. They are the women who wake up fighting every day. Women like Dr. Ford, who knew that testifying in the U.S. Senate about a sexual assault perpetrated by a Supreme Court nominee would lead to denial, hatred, and even death threats. She did it anyway.
I’m Not Fighting the Angry Feminist Label Any Longer
I have stopped resisting the “angry feminist” stereotype. It used to bother me, even offend me. But I realize now that I’m proud of it because it means I care.
It means I have enough fight in me to eventually emerge from the ever-looming patriarchal shadow I’ve had to live under. Call me angry. Call me dramatic. Or emotional. It’s a reflection on you, not me.
Lastly, the more society ignores women, the angrier we will become. Differences may be the tool of oppression, but anger is the tool of change—and nothing is strong enough to withhold the flood of women demanding change.
About the Writer
Cira Mancuso is a sophomore at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Her book, SKIN, will publish in July 2019. You can pre-order a copy and learn more about her book here. Follow Cira on Instagram @cbmancuso and Twitter @ciramancuso.