Sunday Reflections: On Male Rage
Trigger Warning: Sexual Violence discussed. Also, I break my rule about cussing to make a point.
I was driving in my car listening to the Kavanaugh questioning when Kavanaugh began to speak. Soon after, I saw pictures and video of his testimony. My first thought was: I know this man.
Ask most women, and we know this man.
He is the father who quickly whips his belt out of the loops of his pants when he feels like a child is disrespecting him.
He is the teenage boy that calls you from the end of the street to let you know you stupid cuntwhorebitch that he knows that even though you turned him down for a date, he knows you went on a date and he knows who with and what time you left and what time you came back.
He is the teenage boy that tells you about his girlfriend that he loves then asks you to give him a blow job and calls you a stupid cuntwhorebitch when you refuse.
He is the college friend that says he’ll drive you to the study session and drives right past the place where you’re supposed to study and when you ask him why he is taking you to an abandoned industrial warehouse, he rages and froths at the mouth when you suggest he is anything but a good man.
He is the man waiting at the bus stop who gets up and follows you for blocks and when you call and ask for help, he calls you a stupid cuntwhorebitch.
He is the man at the Reference desk who raged because you refused to answer a personal question and made a complaint to the library board letting it be known that you are a stupid cuntwhorebitch who was rude and disrespectful.
He’s the man who won’t admit he is wrong, even when the evidence is right before his own eyes.
He’s the man who confuses fear for respect.
He’s the man who thinks retribution is justice.
He’s the man who thinks he’s entitled to the things that he wants whenever he wants them and on his own terms.
Rage is a weapon. It is a power move meant to intimidate and control.
But not all rage is unjustified. Jesus raged in the temple and threw over the tables of the money changers. This is one of the most commonly cited examples of justified rage.
I felt rage when my grandmother asked me to ignore my own abuse at the hands of a family member because he was a good man.
I felt rage when my daughter told me what a supposed friend had said to her about what she could and should do with him.
I felt rage every time a friend has called and asked me what to do because they just found out that their sons or daughters had been sexually abused.
I have felt rage.
I have felt rage often since our country elected an admitted sexual predator to office and I have felt rage often when I read yet another newspaper headline about a man found guilty of rape given zero to very little sentence.
The same people who are in the media trying to justify Kavanaugh’s rage have tried to discount female rage for years. Women, you see, are not allowed to feel rage. Serena Williams rages and she is vilified. The black mothers of black teenage boys shot far too young by the police that are supposed to protect them express rage and they are vilified. Women rage against sexual violence and we are vilified.
Not all rage is created equal.
We accept and excuse and justify male rage and it harms us all. The ways that we accept male rage and reject female rage are another example of toxic masculinity.
Men, we are told, are supposed to rage.
Women, we are told, are supposed to smile.
I was not smiling when I heard potential Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh rage. I was shaking in fear. Because I know that man. He’s not fair or balanced or impartial. He has shown us who he is. He has shown us what type of man he is and the truth is, he is exactly the type of man that the patriarchy wants to affirm for this nomination because he represents everything that they hold so dear.
After listening to him rage, there are calls today for women to be silent online. Some have chosen silence, but I am not. We have been silenced for far too long and I can no longer be silent.
I will rage.
I will rage for the past me who was silenced for so very long and for every other victim that has been forced to sit in silence.
I will rage so that any future victims will be able to seek justice and support without blame or ridicule or dismissal.
I will rage so that my daughters will know that it is not okay for a man to fly into a rage and call you a stupid cuntwhorebitch just because you tell him no.
I will rage until we no longer tolerate male rage and vilify female rage.
I will rage until we no longer need to rage because we consider men and women equal, until we have honest conversations about consent and sexual violence, and until I know that the people we elect to represent us are held to the highest of standards and respect and represent all Americans equally and thoughtfully.
Today is not that day and I am not silent.
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About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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