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Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger

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From Rebecca Traister, the New York Times bestselling author of All the Single Ladies comes a vital, incisive exploration into the transformative power of female anger and its ability to transcend into a political movement.

In the year 2018, it seems as if women’s anger has suddenly erupted into the public conversation. But long before Pantsuit Nation, before the Women’s March, and before the #MeToo movement, women’s anger was not only politically catalytic—but politically problematic. The story of female fury and its cultural significance demonstrates the long history of bitter resentment that has enshrouded women’s slow rise to political power in America, as well as the ways that anger is received when it comes from women as opposed to when it comes from men.

With eloquence and fervor, Rebecca tracks the history of female anger as political fuel—from suffragettes marching on the White House to office workers vacating their buildings after Clarence Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court. Here Traister explores women’s anger at both men and other women; anger between ideological allies and foes; the varied ways anger is perceived based on its owner; as well as the history of caricaturing and delegitimizing female anger; and the way women’s collective fury has become transformative political fuel—as is most certainly occurring today. She deconstructs society’s (and the media’s) condemnation of female emotion (notably, rage) and the impact of their resulting repercussions.

Highlighting a double standard perpetuated against women by all sexes, and its disastrous, stultifying effect, Traister’s latest is timely and crucial. It offers a glimpse into the galvanizing force of women’s collective anger, which, when harnessed, can change history.

320 pages, ebook

First published October 2, 2018

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About the author

Rebecca Traister

9 books1,028 followers
Rebecca Traister writes about politics and gender for Salon, and has contributed to the New York Observer, Elle, the New York Times, Vogue, the Nation and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband.

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Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.5k followers
May 3, 2022

It is rare, but occasionally, just the right book, written by just the right person, will be published at just the right time. Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me (2015), released near the height of BlackLivesMatter, is a good example of a “just right” book; Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad: the Revolutionary Power of Women (2018), released five days after Dr. Blasey-Ford’s testimony—and four days before Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation—is an equally powerful example.

Traister, no newcomer to journalism, often reports on issues from a feminist perspective. In addition to being the author of the books Big Girls Don’t Cry (gender dynamics in the 2008 election) and All the Single Ladies (the single woman’s contribution to women’s independence), she has also written many memorable shorter pieces on woman and politics, most recently for New York Magazine, including “Hillary Clinton Is Furious. And Resigned. And Funny. And Worried” (5/26/217), a profile of Elizabeth Warren called “Leader of the Persistence” (7/22/2018), and “Serena Williams and the Game that Can’t be Won (Yet)” (9/9/2018). Also, she may sometimes be seen on MSNBC—particularly with her good friend Chris Hayes of All In—chatting about the intersection of feminism and politics.

Two years ago Traister was planning to write a book about Hillary Clinton’s election, and it was this idea which led to Good and Mad. Here’s the way she tells to story in a recent New York Times interview (9/28/2018):
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.

I like many things about Traister’s book, but the three things I like best are: 1) the artful casualness with which she reminds us of the anger of not-yet-famous and forgotten women in the struggles of the past thirty years, 2) her willingness to explore the wrongheaded choices women have occasionally made because of anger, and 3) the graceful, engaging literary style she uses to weave this—and so much else—together.

Here are some of the angry women Traister mentions in her account of the last thirty years: Patty Murray (a housewife from Washington state who angrily watched the Anita Hill hearings and decided to run for the senate); Maxine Waters (a first term South Central congresswoman who refused to condemn her constituents’ rage at the height of the Rodney King riots); Kanene Holder and Ren Jender (who spoke up about misogyny in the Occupy Wall Street movement); Alicia Garza and Patrisse Khan Cullors (who initiated the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter); Brittany Packnetty, Johnetta Elzie, Nekima Levy-Pounds, Elle Hearns (who moved the BlackLivesMatter movement forward); Bree Newsome (who scaled the Carolina Statehouse flagpole, ripping down the Rebel flag); Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour, and Tamika Mallory (who organized the the post-inaugural Women’s March); and Parkland high school student Emma Gonzales (who spoke eloquently of her experience of gun violence). The effect on me of all these contemporary names—concrete signifiers of constructive female rage—was to enable me to see the last 175 years of women’s activism (which Traister proceeds both to summarize and illuminate) as a rich tapestry embroidered with other names equally worthy of remembrance: Rose Schneiderman (orator of the 1908 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire strike): Pauli Murray (lawyer and author of legal theories on civil rights which influenced Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsburg); Stormé DeLarverie (lesbian cabaret performer and instigator of the so-called Stonewall “Riots”); and many others.

I also like the way Traister writes about the misapplied uses of female anger, particularly the way some early feminists became hostile to black men when they received the franchise before white women did:
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.

Rebecca Traister is angry, of course, but she is also filled with good humor, common sense, a gift for seeing ironies, a talent for self-criticism, a sanguine attitude toward the future, and a genuine liking for men. Whether she is speaking of her high school experiences as a waitress, relating her own horrible Harvey Weinstein story (not about predatory sexuality, but about rage), offering a post-election analysis of Hillary, or defending the controversial work of second wave feminist Andrea Dworkin, she is always and everywhere herself.

This is a rich book. I could have written three different reviews of it, at least, mentioning other strengths, other themes. But at the end of each of these reviews, I would have said the same thing: Rebecca Traister is clearly—both as a writer and a person—a woman with style.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,458 reviews8,560 followers
January 14, 2019
An excellent book about the power of women's anger and its potential to improve the political sphere. Rebecca Traister writes about how women's anger has been characterized as hysterical, too destructive, and outright unhelpful. She unearths the sexism underlying these characterizations and argues that women have every right to feel angry given the oppression they have experienced, and their anger has, throughout history, helped launch movements and revolutions that have changed the world for the better. A quote that captures her view on women's anger:

"We must train ourselves to even be able to see and hear anger from women and understand it not only as rational, but as politically weighty. It is, in fact, an anger on behalf of the nation's suppressed majority and therefore especially frightening and combustible because of the treat it poses to the minority. We are primed to hear the anger of men as stirring, downright American, as our national lullaby, and primed to hear the sound of women demanding freedom as the screech of nails on our national chalkboard. That's because women's freedom would in fact circumscribe white male dominion."

I loved two aspects of Good and Mad the most: Traister's ability to integrate multiple sources of information as well as the attention she pays to how white women have often undermined feminism due to their passive and/or active racism. Similar to her amazing book All the Single Ladies , Traister analyzes the stigmatization and strength of women's anger using research studies, interviews, historical facts, and more. Her prose comes across as energetic and exciting, even with all the dense information she incorporates, which speaks to her skill as a nonfiction writer. Furthermore, she spends several sections of the book interrogating how white women have contributed to white supremacist patriarchy by supporting white men, white women, and whiteness overall over women of color, specifically black women. Traister gives due credit to black women - writing in-depth about Maxine Waters, Michelle Obama, Barbara Lee, and more - who have consistently led the charge for equality and justice even in the face of gendered racism.

As someone who firmly believes in the power of anger to fight oppression, I appreciated this book so much. I do wish that Traister had incorporated the voices of queer women more as well as a more targeted critique of capitalism, especially in the section about women feeling angry toward the men in their personal lives. This section felt the least developed to me. Looking toward queer women who have helped push her analysis beyond heterosexual relationships and heteronormativity. Even a couple of paragraphs critiquing capitalism could have strengthened her interrogation of women's economic dependence on men. Of course, more perspectives from other women of color in addition to black women would have been nice, but I can see why she focused on the disenfranchisement and activism of black women specifically.

Overall, a great read I would recommend to those interested in feminism, politics, and psychology. Good and Mad may not offer loads of new information to those already well-versed in women's studies and the history of women's rights, but Traister still assembles a compelling, affirming argument in favor of women's anger. For more splendid books on this topic, check out Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde and Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper.
Profile Image for Michael.
655 reviews966 followers
April 7, 2020
A meditation on the history of women’s rage in America, Good and Mad charts the rise of the #MeToo movement following the election of an openly racist and sexist candidate in 2016. Rebecca Traister begins by examining the ways in which white male anger dominated the 2016 election, and she ends by considering the consequences of a social movement that takes seriously women’s anger concerning sexual assault, professional discrimination, and political marginalization. Across the book the author includes biographies of women politicians, from Shirley Chisholm to Hillary Clinton; narrates the history of women’s suffrage and second-wave feminism; and analyzes the many forms female rage takes, whether tears or marches. Traister also takes on white women’s attachment to white patriarchy, and she deconstructs how the media and male politicians trivialize women’s pain, especially that of Black women. Written in just four months, Good and Mad moves at an exhilarating pace, but the author’s arguments are thorough and wide ranging.
Profile Image for Steve.
923 reviews135 followers
October 9, 2018
Powerful, important, mind-opening stuff, that's well worth reading.

(I'm not holding my breath, but) I hope the book sells like hotcakes and becomes a popular manifesto for "woke" women activists, candidates, advocates, volunteers, and leaders ... and girls ... and parents and teachers and spouses and mentors and writers and siblings and friends and role models ( ... and, yes, men too).

It's not an easy read. In fact, it's the opposite, because it will make you sad and uncomfortable and angry and, ... well, ... that's the whole point! And that's (more than) OK.

The book is not only informative - and eye-opening and potentially perspective altering - but, from an advocacy standpoint, the book is a treasure trove of sound bites and quotable, inspirational nuggets that I expect speech writers, commentators, and essayists will mine for years to come. (Conversely, it dramatically slowed my reading speed, as I not only bookmarked heavily, but re-read passages and tested rolling numerous passages off my tongue.) [I just found this - someone has already created a highlight reel: https://www.bustle.com/p/21-quotes-fr... ... and, well, you get the point...] Fortunately, the book is extensively indexed and footnoted for future reference.

I read this (very) soon (OK, almost immediately) after its release/publication, and that worked well for me. For me, it was a form of catharsis after two weeks of (extensive, but largely pointless and inefficient) rage tweeting about sexism and white male privilege and women's voices and our societal failure to hear and protect and validate victims of sexual assault/abuse/harassment.

I found it incredibly timely, particularly in terms of current events (not just over the last two weeks, but, realistically, over the last two years) ... and, to a limited extent, as hoped, comforting and affirming and, yes, cathartic. I have no idea how well it will stand the test of time (over months, years, or decades), but ... I'm very glad I devoted a significant chunk of my weekend to the book.

Reader's nit: this book was obviously written for women ... and, no doubt, most of its buyers and readers and adopters and sharers will be women. And that makes sense. But that's a shame, because men need to read this too and come to grips with its (timely, important, and resonant) message.
Profile Image for Eilonwy.
814 reviews205 followers
November 8, 2018

A) For people who understand exactly why women are angry


B) For people who just can't understand why women are angry.
Profile Image for Barbara (The Bibliophage).
1,086 reviews148 followers
October 13, 2018
Let me tell you how I started reading Good and Mad from Rebecca Traister. I was watching Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I was also on Twitter, because I wanted to experience this momentous hearing with other people, even though I was on my recliner recovering from surgery.

Chris Hayes started tweeting about this book with Ezra Klein. They were both reading advance copies, and felt it was incredibly relevant to Dr. Ford’s behavior versus Judge Kavanaugh’s. At the time, I also had an advance copy on my ebook shelf. But I had planned to read a few other books first. (Following a first in, first read policy.) Since I too was struck by the different emotional reactions of these two people, I had to start this book that same day.

“… in resisting and dissenting today, we are playing our parts in a story with long, righteous, proud roots.”
(p. 247, print copy)

Good and Mad is positively stupendous. Not because it makes me happy to read about the systemic and ongoing subjugation of women. But because it makes me ecstatic to see that other women are just as angry as I am. And that they’re doing something about it.

Traister discusses women’s anger in the context of history, from suffragists to the Equal Rights Amendment movement. Throughout the book, she connects these historic events back to today. I appreciate the long view this gives readers, because fighting systemic oppression is always a long view.

Another key element of Good and Mad, is the intersectional aspects of women’s anger. Traister tells the stories of women of color from Mamie Till to Carol Moseley Braun to Patrisse Khan-Cullors. The stories of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who after the historic Stonewall Inn raid and riots went on to found gay and trans support organizations. Cisgender, straight, white women are late to the protest, activist party.

“Of course, there is also the reality that when women do explode with rage, even if the effect is to catalyze a social movement, their anger will never be recorded, never noted, never recalled or understood as nation-reshaping. The fact that we can often only register the fury of white men as heroic is so established that it would verge on the comical if it weren’t so deeply tragic.”
(p. 88, print copy)

A 2018 book about women’s anger would be incomplete without discussion of the #metoo movement. Traister explains where the hashtag began. Hint: it wasn’t with the Hollywood folks calling out Harvey Weinstein. Instead, it was first used by Tarana Burke, “ … a lifelong advocate for the rights and health of women of color, who had first coined the term “me too” precisely because she wanted to let women, “particularly young women of color, know that they are not alone.”” (p. 191, print copy)

Sexual harassment, assault, and abuse are a crucial part of this history of anger. Traister lays out women’s experiences, as well as the opposing viewpoints from other women and, of course, men. Be prepared for both depressing and inspiring moments. The difficult parts are essential to understanding how women have reaching our current boiling point, so hang in there.

As she did in the stellar Big Girls Don't Cry, Traister also talks about the conundrum of women’s political anger. When you hear a female politician or public figure, does she speak in only measured tones? And when she doesn’t, what is the reaction from colleagues or media? You know the answer. When women express their anger or displeasure, or challenge men with force and strategy they’re vilified.

Gatherings of protesters, which have lately included many women, are portrayed as mobs without control. It’s an exaggeration or an outright lie because the minority feels out of control. And yet, these actions—speaking out and protesting—have given many women focus and hope.

My conclusions
Good and Mad made me think long and hard about my own experiences, especially about what I’ve “swept under carpet” because I didn’t want to make someone angry or truly be angry myself. I’m thinking about all the times when laughing and trying to be “the cool girl” was the only option I thought I had. It breaks my heart for that younger me.

I’m also one of those cisgender, white, hetero women channeling my anger into political activism. Like women Traister mentions, it makes me feel better. Plus, I want to actively work at leaving a better world for my grandchildren.

There is more depth to this book than a blog post can begin to review. I’d like to buy it for all of my good girlfriends. More importantly, I’d like to discuss it with them and with the men in my life. It’s not hyperbole to say this will be a pre-eminent book about women’s history for decades to come.

Many thanks to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster, and the author for the opportunity to read the advanced readers copy of this book in exchange for this honest review.

Originally published on my book blog, TheBibliophage.com.
Profile Image for Julie Ehlers.
1,111 reviews1,397 followers
November 4, 2018
Good and Mad was illuminating, even for someone (like me) who considers herself reasonably well-read on feminist issues. Inspired, obviously, by women's anger in the aftermath of Trump's election, the book delves into other times when women's anger has resulted in massive change (abolition, votes for women, second-wave feminism) and rightfully identifies it as patriotic and in fact emblematic of the values on which the U.S. was founded—despite the derision with which it is viewed by those who feel threatened by it.

In addition to looking at the many issues related to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Rebecca Traister provides a sophisticated analysis of the Harvey Weinstein accusations and the many additional accusations that followed in their wake. While attention-seeking antifeminists like Katie Roiphe moan that #metoo is turning us into a crowd of fearful prudes, Traister sheds some actual light on the situation, pointing out that, as unwelcome as unwanted sexual attention can be in a university or work setting, the sex itself isn't the entire point. Women's career opportunities can be severely limited by a sexually hostile environment, and not just in the typical "have sex with me or you're fired" sense. Think about the women who worked for Weinstein's company: Who was more likely to advance in her career, the woman who was willing to abet his activities, to play along, to roll her eyes and say "that's just Harvey," or the one who refused to have any part of it? I've never been sexually harassed in the literal sense, but I have definitely seen women advance ahead of me who were more willing to laugh at the boss's obvious sexism and gross pervertedness than I was. Regardless of whether you're offended by the actual behavior of (certain) men in power, the fact that it can limit women's opportunities in this way is reason enough to call it out and demand change. I guess I knew all of this already, but hearing Traister frame it this way made so much sense. It's also a great argument to introduce to clueless people who think talking about workplace flirtation and ass-grabbing in the same breath as actual assault is somehow cheapening the issue. Oh, and speaking of Matt Damon, Traister provides a fabulous discussion of men's and women's reactions to the many accusations, and how those reactions were judged.

A great thing about Rebecca Traister is that she's so knowledgeable, so good-humored and sensible, that when she goes for the jugular it feels totally earned and so satisfying. But more than that, this book was inspiring—I loved hearing about all the women who've become newly engaged in activism and even decided to run for office, and I greatly appreciated the way Traister put this new round of activism, including its clashes and disagreements, in historical context.

I really hope Good and Mad becomes a bestseller in the U.S. Obviously a lot has gone on in the past two years, and we definitely need a voice like Traister's to sum it up and analyze it and provide a way forward. If you read and appreciate Good and Mad, be sure to check out her earlier books, Big Girls Don't Cry and All the Single Ladies. There are a lot of feminist writers publishing books these days and all of them are valuable and welcome, but by every possible metric, Rebecca Traister is one of our very best.
Profile Image for Blaine.
747 reviews606 followers
May 31, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Holly.
1,007 reviews220 followers
October 13, 2018
Rebecca Traister has done it. She's written a book that had me nearly sobbing with frustration as she methodically dredged up every injustice that has knocked the wind out of me over the past two years - no, the past forty years - , that had me worrying that she would leave me spluttering with helpless anger and reawakened grief. And her book, became, by the conclusion, something that left me feeling newly empowered and reluctant to transmute my fury into something "nice" - and really, really pissed off.

I predict future editions will have a postscript on Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford but the current book is in no way lacking because it went to press before late September 2018. Because Traister perfectly explains and foretells what happened - "Himpathy" and the backlash against #MeToo has already been underway. This isn't the first or the last book on women's anger, but it's very important right now, and could truly make a difference. The audiobook is exceptional and read by Traister herself. Wow.
Profile Image for Rachel.
550 reviews875 followers
May 4, 2019
"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."

Good and Mad is probably the best contemporary feminist text I've read. Smart, biting, and unapologetic, Traister meditates on the post-2016 election state of affairs in America - Trump, Weinstein, #MeToo, school shootings, police brutality - and contextualizes all of this into a coherent narrative, the root of which is (not so surprisingly) white supremacy and patriarchal infrastructures. As an American who's been sad and disheartened and yes, angry, every day since the election, who's overwhelmed daily by the constant stream of depressing state of world affairs on Twitter, it was nice to read a refreshingly intersectional analysis of the times we're living in that doesn't write off the potential of the numerous female-led protests and movements that have arisen in recent years.

Traister's central thesis is that female anger is good, healthy, constructive; she cites numerous examples of women, often women of color, who have refused to be silenced by the sociopolitical structures that have endeavored to dismiss their anger as irrational. This was at times frustrating to read because sometimes it feels like the sexism and racism in US politics is an unassailable force, but Traister herself has no interest in that kind of cynicism, ending this book on a note that succeeds in inspiring. I couldn't recommend this highly enough.
Profile Image for Laura Noggle.
677 reviews387 followers
January 9, 2019
Sufficiently angry(-ier) after reading this book.

ESSENTIAL reading for 2019.

Guaranteed to rile you up and ignite a spark of rebellion in your soul. If you're not ready to storm the castle and take down with the patriarchy after reading this book, you're probably a man.

To be honest, this book is both inspiring and emotionally exhausting. I'm still thinking about it, and still angry.

I posted my five-star review on FB, and a "friend" (/troll) sent me a private message mocking me and calling it: "female hysteria." 🙄 This is the same guy that started an argument on my FB a couple years ago trying to mansplain to everyone that there is no wage gap, women are just inferior in the workplace because of children, lack of focus, and too many breaks. 🤦🏻‍♀️

This book is sure to be polarizing to people. Either you get it or you don't. In lieu of a summary, which I am sure you are already well aware of the main points, I'll leave you with a few of my favorite passages.

"On some level, if not intellectual than animal, there has always been an understanding of the power of women's anger: that as an oppressed majority in the United States, women have long had within them the potential to rise up in fury, to take over a country in which they've never really been offered their fair or representative stake. Perhaps the reason that women's anger is so broadly denigrated—treated as so ugly, so alienating, and so irrational—is because we have known all along that with it came the explosive power to upturn the very systems that have sought to contain it.

What becomes clear, when we look to the past with an eye to the future, is that the discouragement of women's anger—via silencing, erasure, and repression—stems from the correct understanding of those in power that in the fury of women lies the power to change the world."

“But I say this to all the women reading this now, and to my future self: What you are angry about now—injustice—will still exist, even if you yourself are not experiencing it, or are tempted to stop thinking about how you are experience it, and how you contribute to it. Others are still experiencing it, still mad; some of them are mad at you. Don’t forget them; don’t write off their anger. Stay made for them. Stay mad with them. They’re right to be mad, and you’re right to be mad alongside them. Being mad is correct; being mad is American; being mad can be joyful and productive and connective. Don’t ever let them talk you out of being mad again.”

“'If you wake up in the morning caring about something,' Cain told the potential future leaders of America crowding the wood-paneled room, notepads out, 'you are qualified to run for office.' The message echoes one delivered by Higher Heights co-founder Peeler-Allen to the black women she advises, many of whom lack confidence: 'Each one of you is beyond prepared to run for public office. You need to channel your inner mediocre white boy and use that to run.'”

Ms. Magazine, Holding the Line for Women

Rebecca Traister in The Cut:
The Other Women’s March on Washington
What’s the fastest way to fix a broken system? Take it over, say the record number of female candidates running for office in 2018 for the first time.

(Rebecca Traister does such an excellent job, I'm already looking forward to All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation.)
Profile Image for vanessa.
981 reviews150 followers
October 15, 2018
3.5. There is a lot here that is fascinating: the history of women's anger through angles such as cursing, crying, and humor/snark; insightful looks at women I knew of but not about (Maxine Waters, Pat Schroeder, Barbara Boxer); and the last 50 pages that look to the current activist moment and the future. If you're someone that is politically aware, who watches and reads the news, a lot of it was a recap of the past two years (the election, #MeToo, protests). In that sense, I wanted more (there is a lot of history but I did feel we focused a lot on news events I know about). Regardless, it was worth it to me to hear Traister skewer and pontificate about people who deserve a scolding.
Profile Image for Robyn Hammontree.
250 reviews33 followers
October 8, 2018
I finished this book on my lunch break, and I don't think I've ever needed a book more in my life. I read a lot of books, y'all. I would give this one 10 out of 5 stars if I could. It is spectacular. It is liberating. It is validating. It is important. It is among those very few books about which I will say, "Everyone needs to read this. Now."

So please, please, please: if you are a woman, or a human who loves women, or a person who cares about this world, read this book. I'll leave you with the excerpt below:

“If you happen to be listening to this in future, having stumbled across it in 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. And if you’re listening to this now, in its moment, with me. If you’ve gotten to this page because you’ve been feeling rage at the unfairness and injustice, and at the flaws of this country, and because your anger is making you want to change your life in order to change the world, then I have something incredibly important to say: don’t forget how this feels.

Tell a friend. Write it down. Explain it to your children now so they will remember. And don’t let anyone persuade you it wasn’t right, or it was weird, or it was some quirky stage in your life when you went all political. ‘Remember that, honey? That year you went crazy?’ No. Don’t let it ever become that. Because people will try.

The future will come, we hope. If we survive this. If we make it better. Even just a little bit better. But I hope a lot better.
The urgency will fade. Perhaps the ire will subside. The relief will take you—briefly. And that’s good. That’s OK. But then the world will come and tell you shouldn’t get mad again. Because you were kind of nuts and you never cooked dinner and you yelled at the TV and weren’t so pretty. And life will be easier when you get fun again.

And it will be awfully tempting to put away the pictures of yourself in your pussy hat. To stuff your protest signs in the attic. And to slink back, away from the raw bite of fury. To ease back into whatever new reality is made after whatever advances we achieve now.

But I say to all the women listening to this now, and to my future self: what you’re angry about now—injustice—will still exist. Even if you yourself are not experiencing it, or are tempting to stop thinking about how you experience it and how you contribute to it. Others are still experiencing it—are still mad. Some of them are mad at you. Don’t forget them. Don’t write off their anger. Stay mad for them. Stay mad with them. They’re right to be mad, and you’re right to be mad alongside them.

Being mad is correct. Being mad is American. Being mad can be joyful and productive and connective. Don’t ever let them talk you out of being mad again.”
Profile Image for Corrie.
157 reviews4 followers
August 26, 2018
I devoured this. Traister has done it again. (If you haven't read All the Single Ladies, you need to go read it right now.)
A mixture of personal narrative, history, journalism and feminist critique, pick this up if you've found yourself angry at some point over the past two years, two decades or really, the last two millennia...

(Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC)
Profile Image for Jess | thegreeneyedreader.
177 reviews70 followers
April 24, 2019
4/5 - This is such an important book and I really enjoyed it, but it was a tad repetitive at times. Overall, I definitely recommend.
Profile Image for Malia.
Author 6 books551 followers
September 16, 2020
I was a little skeptical about this book, the title leaving me apprehensive. I am a quiet person. Obviously a person with opinions and stances, but I rarely think of myself as angry, even righteously angry. Frustrations or disappointments leave me feeling sad rather than incensed, so I didn't know if I could connect to the premise of Traister's book and the idea that anger can be wielded in a constructive rather than destructive way. However, I am happy to report, this was an eloquent and multi-dimensional examination of the degrees and different manifestations and consequences of women's anger. It was a little long and occasionally repetitive, but it definitely drove home the point that women are, first of all, evaluated totally differently than men based on their emotional responses, and secondly, that women can wield those emotions to achieve real change, especially if we band together. Traister acknowledged that there were and are women who feel alienated or turned off by the idea of feminism, yet she also highlights the power of movements led by women when they work together for the greater cause of achieving equality both at home and in their professional sphere. Certainly worth reading!

Find my book reviews and more at http://www.princessandpen.com
Profile Image for Heather.
Author 54 books1,900 followers
October 10, 2018
An extremely concise and comprehensive look at the #metoo movement and the reawakening of feminist anger and the revolutionary period we are in. I especially like her responses to those who counter that the movement is too radical and irrational. Very optimistic ending(obviously would have liked an extra chapter on the Kavanaugh confirmation and her opinion on its effect on movement) much needed in these times on the cumulative advances created by the recent surge of female anger.
Profile Image for Ericka Clou.
2,102 reviews163 followers
March 3, 2019
10 million stars. I'm recommending this to everyone. Despite the large number of books I've been reading about feminism, this one is still transformative. Has the slow trickle of oppression been why I've been just sloshing around in a vague depressed state for the last decade? I think so. It's like having someone snap their fingers in front of your face until you awaken to how powerful passionate (angry) groups of women can be, and how all this squashing of emotion has been maintaining a terrible status quo.

Here are some things I'm ENRAGED about:
1) That time Trump suggested “the second amendment people” murder Hillary. What an attack on democracy to suggest people murder your political opponent! What a monstrous-woman-abusing thing to say! What a monstrous pro-gun-for-murder thing to say. How he so lightly endangers the secret service too. RAGE.
2) Total inaction in the face of global warming. Goodbye, humanity. Sorry future grandkids, no planet for you.
3) School shootings. My son had to hide during a lockdown THIS WEEK. This is his third lockdown. He is in second grade. I AM SO ANGRY, I CRY ABOUT THIS.
4) Kids in detention camps. If this doesn't make you enraged, you might be suffering from mild-to-intense sociopathy.
5) The Supreme Court is at least 33% misogynistic men: Kavanaugh, Thomas, Gorsuch. I cannot get over the appointment of Kavanaugh in particular because it was such a clear FUCK YOU to American women.
6) Do women in the US even have equal legal rights? According to numerous respected conservative/originalist scholars, no. https://legalinsurrection.com/2011/01...
7) The number of Americans that are totally unaware of the oppressive history of our country, how this has built systemic injustice that is still completely relevant.
8) The very idea that "the war on Christmas" is real, but that institutional racism and sexism is not real or is individually surmountable. Remember all those men that got harassed at work because they celebrate Christmas? Those kids that got sent to detention camps because they are Christian? Nope, me neither.

Profile Image for Tara Brabazon.
Author 23 books324 followers
October 20, 2018
This is it. This is the one. If you think that the injustices, the groping, the abuse, the disrespect, the marginalization, the slander and the daily inconveniences of inequality were and are an individual problem, then you need to read this book.

Women - angry women - read this book. Get angrier. Do something.

Men - if you are ready for some reflection, some self-assessment and consideration of your behaviour at work, in bars, on the streets, in cars and in the bedroom - then read this. If you think you are not part of the problem - then get out of the way. The angry women are moving and they are as dangerous as the zombie apocalypse.

Traister has the tone of the times framed, preserved and harnessed. The writing is excellent, edgy and provocative. The argument is stunning.

Particularly the attention to white, straight, married women is timely. These women have always 'slept with the enemy.' That was the second wavers argument. Traister's argument is more subtle: because of the injustices confronted by women in the workplace in particular, they have the most to lose through their anger. They have gained from the system that oppressed them. They are the accomplices to patriarchy.

Read this book and become enflamed. Read this book and do something. Time for business as usual to change. This is the book to move us to a new reality. Get angry.
Profile Image for Madelon.
772 reviews10 followers
September 22, 2018
The title of this book, GOOD AND MAD, drew my attention like a moth to a flame. Yes, my name is Madelon, and I answer happily to Maddy, but more often than not I hear "Hey, Mad." I have embraced the moniker as a statement of who I am and not necessarily my emotional state. And, I have been called an 'angry little woman.' How could I not read this book?

Women have been trained for centuries (maybe even millennia) to suppress anger and rage. Who is doing this to women? Mostly men, but other women as well. How many times, while growing up, were you told to be "ladylike?" The Women's March was a singular, worldwide, demonstration of female anger. It took this book to tell me that white, male, American journalists were belittling the effort the very next day. How did I miss that? I was one of those very angry women. I would have marched except for the fact that I had had knee replacement surgery just 23 days prior. My sister traveled to Washington, DC and came home saying it was a life-changing experience. Maybe I missed the denigration of the women who marched because I watched more AM Joy and The Rachel Maddow Show than I did those cable news programs hosted by white men. I was angry on November 9, 2016, angry and in shock. Now, in 2018. I am as angry, if not more so, than that awful day after the election.

This book is not a page turner. It evokes anger at known injustices by their very telling. It is not only a contemporary work, it is up to the minute. However, it is not just a rehashing of current events, it delves into the history of the suppression of women. If you look at the labor movement, it was started by angry women. Did they get credit for this? No. Were the black women who worked tirelessly on behalf of the march on Washington, DC, the march where Martin Luther King, Jr. made his iconic speech, allowed to address the throng? No. Were they even allowed to march with the leadership? No.

Think back to 2017, January 21st to be precise. News coverage of this event did not emphasize the way women (and men) of diverse backgrounds came together to change the world. Instead, the media put forth a story of behind the scenes divisiveness within the ranks. What better way to prevent needed change than to say that those seeking reform can't even get along with each other. It is this kind of division that has allowed one-third of this country to maintain power since the writing of the Constitution. The white male minority rules because that is the way our government was formed. White women enjoy a certain supremacy by proxy so they support white men against their own better interests. When a diverse group of women come together to discuss what must happen to create a more diverse leadership in government, from municipal all the way to the White House, and the result is white women remarking that their non-white sisters are finally starting to understand them, the whole point of diversity is lost.

This book will push ALL your buttons, and that is EXACTLY why you need to read it. Those pushed feminist buttons will inevitably change the world. And to Rebecca Traister I extend a hearty, and heartfelt, thanks for acknowledging that I, as a woman, have every right to be angry, and have every right to express that anger.

A 5-star scale does not do a book like this justice. On a scale of 1 to 10. this book is an 11! It is a must read for women to show them that their anger is not only justified but necessary. Use that anger to fuel the big changes needed. This is a must read for men who seem clueless, who want to promulgate the notion that women only have worth if they are producing children and cooking dinner. And, this is a book for men who are ingrained with the need to join feminists, to be feminists themselves, in the fight for absolute equality. Once you have read it, I hope you will feel compelled to pass on the need to read this book to your daughters, your sons, family and friends. I know I will.

Finally, you just might want to read this as an eBook. The notes contain links - very long links - to articles online. Clicking the links will take you to source material. Typing those links will try your patience.
Profile Image for  Bon.
1,116 reviews94 followers
February 5, 2023
*wiping away inspired tears*

This is brilliant. Everything I've read of Traister's makes me just want to make a powerpoint and gesture furiously at it.

As someone interested in public sphere work and public speaking, I appreciated how the double standards women face, particularly politicans and other public-facing roles or positions of power, are laid out here. Be angry, emotional and relatable - but sacrifice poll points as you are seen as unfeminine, unlikeable. Be calm, rational - but unconvincing and robotic. The eternal dichotomy of a woman's speech is that it is seen as portraying her as either too-quiet, inept and therefore unqualified; or as loud, crass, off-putting and not credible. We cannot be loud, angry and correct at the same time. Traister captured this amazingly.

I like that she addressed privilege as a platform, intersectional feminism and activism, and the fact that white women mad after November 2016 were not the first to join this fight and movement.

And several good lines:

"women are asked to foot the bill for men's bad acts"

"In the United States, we have never been taught how noncompliant, insistent, furious women have shaped our history and our present, our activism and our art. We should be."

"What becomes clear, when we look to the past with an eye to the future, is that the discouragement of women’s anger—via silencing, erasure, and repression—stems from the correct understanding of those in power that in the fury of women lies the power to change the world."

"Anyone who wants power within a white male power structure has been asked to quell anything that sounds like wrath, to reassure that they come in cooperative peace and are not looking to mete out repercussion against those who have oppressed or subjugated them."

This whole book is so quotable. And I remain good and mad.
Profile Image for Nadine in NY Jones.
2,749 reviews217 followers
November 2, 2018
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.

I thought this would be a nice read to pick up after finishing Fear: Trump in the White House, and after seething at the entire Kavanaugh Show.

I tried to read this during my lunch break, but it was hard to stop reading. I guess I am good and mad. I highlighted half the damned book.

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.

This is so much better than I thought it would be. It is, quite possibly, the best book I've ever read on feminism.

That's not to say that this is perfect! Traister is unfortunately fond of a lengthy and convoluted sentence structure. A few times I had to pause and spend a few minutes untangling it, so I could get to what she was trying to say. Here is a particularly egregious example:
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?”

Like, holy shit, that's all one sentence?!?! Girrrrrl, I had to read this three times just to figure out who the object and subject were! I understand why she wrote it that way, but phew!

Most of the book is not like that, though. If you are angry, steaming, furious, good and mad, you will find this book reassuring and empowering.

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.

ETA: I just bought the hardcover and the dust jacket is tastefully embossed F*CKF*CKF*CKF*CKF*CKF*CKF*CK and that is something I just had no idea about when I was reading the ebook and OMG it's awesome.
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 7 books1,211 followers
November 9, 2018
A spot-on approach to why women are so angry in today's western culture. Traister is great at being intersectional and delineating white women's experiences and alignment with a patriarchal system that can benefit them vs. the anger women of color feel both at the patriarchy and at white women benefitting from it.

This book was written and published quickly -- Traister even notes that in her conclusion -- but damn if it had waited until after the midterms because it would have added a whole other level of insight, especially relating to women succeeding in their bids for public office.

That all said, it didn't impact me the way many others were impacted. Maybe because none of it is especially new or especially stirring, as someone who has been in the thick of thinking about and acting on anger for a long, long time. Doesn't mean it wasn't good because it was, but rather, it's possible none of this is surprising or enlightening, even if accurate.
Profile Image for Anna.
245 reviews61 followers
May 30, 2019

I've been composing a lengthy review/essay/rant while listening to this but now I don't have time to actually write all of my thoughts down. I hope I will find time but who knows. Anyway, I really liked this although I can't say I enjoyed it because it most certainly made me even more angry than I was before - and, believe me, I was already very angry. The last sections do give hope though, for which I am grateful.
Profile Image for Hayley Stenger.
286 reviews81 followers
January 24, 2019
Frustrating, but important book. I love how it discusses the structure of society and the role women are supposed to take in society. It made me reflect on so much of what has been said to me in my life and how I reacted to it and how I should react moving forward. Also, I randomly found a shout out to the organization I volunteer with, seeing it mentioned was amazing and makes me feel hopeful.
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