You know, that Samuel L Jackson line about great vengeance and furious anger. I think that’s from the Bible, but I obviously know it instead from Pulp Fiction.
There is a lot to be angry about lately, folks. Between the most political of political things and the most professional of professional things and the most personal of personal things, there’s a lot on the table right now.
My expressions of anger have always been a bit patchy. When I worked at the bookstore I would sometimes close myself in a storage room in the basement, make up a couple of cardboard boxes, and drop kick them around the room for ten minutes. I would return to the front desk somewhat flushed, and my colleagues would know I’d been Kicking Boxes.
I had some neighbours in London once who played a 2004 era Dido CD OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN on top volume at all hours of the day and night. It was so CONFUSING and SO INFURIATING. As it happened, I owned that very Dido CD and decided to break it in half and post it through their mail slot to send a message. When I shared this plan with my ex, he advised me that it was “aggressive.”
Sometimes I’m not angry about anything.
Today? Today there is a massive force of collective rage over the Jian Ghomeshi verdict. This article pretty much sums up my feelings on the matter, so I won’t go on and on. I am grateful to have many feminist friends of all genders who are similarly horrified at the state of modern discourse around violence against women, so there is comfort in numbers and solidarity, to some extent.
However. I use social media (NOT LIKE, OBSESSIVELY OR ANYTHING), and thus am aware that many, many people out there (the judge in the Ghomeshi trial among them) believe that an individual’s behaviour, actions, feelings, and memory in the wake of abuse should look a certain way, and if it does not fit that preconceived notion of appropriate response, well then credibility is in question. I offer a rage infused slow clap to anyone out there who hasn’t ever in their whole lives wanted someone who treated them like shit and exhibited seemingly contradictory and confusing behaviour as a result. Realllllllllll slow clap.
I said I wasn’t going to go on and on about it. But I’m fucking angry about it. I’m angry about what happened in that court room today, and I’m angry about all of the assholes out there like Ghomeshi who treat women like shit and get away with it. We all know someone like him. We all know multiple someones like him. Big public cases like this naturally lead a person to reflect on the layers of big violences, little violences, obvious violences, and subtle violences that are perpetrated in our everydays.
Anger can go down in so many different ways. Anger can mean inaction. Anger can mean waiting. Anger can mean loving your loved ones harder. Anger can mean holding someone’s hand. Anger can mean not wanting to fucking talk about it. Anger can mean arguing on the Internet. Anger can mean kicking boxes or trying to hate-mail a broken Dido CD, or smashing a glass while listening to a Fred Armisen interview while you do the dishes because he is such an infuriating shitbag (Oh, I didn’t mention that last one? It happened to a friend).
Anger can mean simply bearing witness to bullshit. It can mean seeing the way a person goes through life treating women, the things they say, the violences they enact. Sometimes bearing witness is all you can do as things play out, as people buy what the bullshit artist is selling. It might not feel safe to react any other way. It might be a judgement call based on very particular practical circumstances. It might be that you are not exactly sure what is happening, or what has happened. But you see. And you are seen seeing. And that is powerful.