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320 pages, ebook
First published October 2, 2018
I was thinking that I might write a book if Hillary Clinton had won. I’d felt the rise of racism and misogyny during the presidential campaign. The pop culture backlash: the fury of the all-women Ghostbusters and Star Wars jedis who weren’t white guys. I felt like we were in the midst of an extremely punishing moment. And that’s what I guessed I might be writing about throughout Hillary Clinton’s administration, if there was one. And then there wasn’t one. But in early 2017, I was walking with my husband, and I felt like my brain was going to boil. I was telling him how it was hard for me to think because I was so angry. He said to me, “Well maybe that’s your book: anger.” I was like, “Of course, that’s my book.”Good and Mad is powered by Traister’s anger and illuminated by stories about how she used—or failed to use—that anger for good purpose, from her high school years in the 90’s up to the present. It is also filled with anecdotes in which other women talk to her about how they suppressed—or wielded—their anger. But Traister’s book moves beyond herself and her peers to explore the history of women and their fight for human rights, from the abolitionist movement to #Metoo, and to suggest ways in which that anger may be expressed in the challenging days to come.
Some white suffragists, including [Elizabeth Cady] Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, livid at having put aside their emphasis on women’s enfranchisement to focus on abolition through the Civil War, and angry at their abolitionist allies for what they understood as political abnadonment—were so mad at having at having to stand back as their allies moved a step forward, that they struck out fiercely, revealing their own deep racism. . . . [Stanton] wrote in 1865, “It becomes a serious question whether we [white women] had better stand aside and see “Sambo’ walk into the kingdom first.”This was a story I had not heard, and I was glad Traister told it to me. But I was even more delighted with the rich, comprehensive style which makes Traister’s narrative so expert, and so seemingly effortless. The Comte de Buffon has informed us that “le style c’est l’homme,” and of course “the style is the woman” too, and it is the plenitude of Traister the person—her ability, like Whitman, to “contain multitudes”--that makes her such an excellent writer.
Consider that the white men in the Rust Belt are rarely told that their anger is bad for them. Rather, and correctly, we understand that what’s bad for them are the conditions that have provoked their frustration: the loss of jobs and stature, the shortage of affordable healthcare and daycare, the scourge of drugs. We understand their anger to be politically instructive, to point us toward problems that must be addressed. What we all—in the media, and in politics, and in our personal lives—can endeavor to do is to treat the anger of women as we treat the anger of white men.There’s not much I can add that isn’t in the Goodreads description of Good and Mad. Ms. Traister’s book traces the history of how society constantly tries to minimize women’s anger, in no small part because women collectively getting angry has repeatedly led to political change in this country. This book worked for me as a political science major, and as someone alarmed by recent history. Good and Mad should be read and discussed and acted upon. Highly recommended.
"The fact that lots of people could extend such sympathy for [Charlie] Rose [...] affirmed a bunch of things. First, that the world is stacked in favor of men, yes, in a way that is so widely understood as to be boring, invisible, just life.
But more deeply, it was a reminder of how easily we can see in men -- even in the bad ones -- talent. Brilliance. Complexity. Humanity. We manage to look past their flaws and sexual violations to what value they bring to the world. It is the direct opposite, in many ways, of how we view women, whose successes can still be blithely attributed to the fact that the boss wanted to fuck them."
The election of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton for the presidency of the United States in 2016 may have felt like a stinging, agonizing shock to many of us who lived through it. But in the context of American history, it should have been wholly unsurprising. In the wake of a challenge to white supremacy, in the form of two Obama administrations, racism won. Over the threat of a potential female leader, brutal masculinity won.
It is not civil, it is often profane; calls for civility are designed to protect the powerful by casting them as victims.
... We are taught it—"give me liberty or give me death, live free or die, don’t tread on me"—as patriotic catechism, but only when it has been expressed by white men has it sounded or been transmitted to us as admirable, reasonable, as the crucial catalytic ingredient to political change.
... Those who were oppressed made the opportunities for the oppressors greater, just as the colonies had enriched the British Empire.
Speaking on Morning Joe to Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, who, in discussion with Mika Brzezinski, had just detailed the marchers’ stated commitment to equal pay, women’s health care, defending Obamacare, environmental activism, and their plans to run for office and get involved in campaigns as volunteers leading to the midterms, MSNBC analyst Mark Halperin—a man who had spent previous years reporting on the Tea Party’s “huge impact on America”—asked her with suppurating condescension, “Senator, [can I] just ask you to be a notch more specific” about how the marchers might “impact what’s going on in Washington [this week], not running for [the] school board down the road?”
If you happen to be reading this in the future, having stumbled across it in an attempt to find out if you’re allowed to be angry about whatever you’re angry about, let me say: yes. Yes you are allowed. You are in fact compelled.