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BENITEZ: Female rage should not be dismissed

Column: Hear me out

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (D-N.Y.) speech to Congress in 2019 is a prominent example of how female rage should be respected instead of belittled. – Photo by Matt Johnson / Wikimedia

The term "female rage" has gained a lot of popularity in recent years and is often used to describe women who snap and throw an angry fit after experiencing a triggering moment. Not many people put effort toward having a genuine and comprehensive discussion because women are deemed "sensitive and crazy," and angry breakdowns seem to be a part of the norm.

Yet female rage goes way beyond feelings, hormones and womanhood. It represents despair and hopelessness against the oppression that we as women constantly feel every day of our lives, and it needs to be addressed in a more serious manner.

Female rage is not new. It can easily be tied to Sigmund Freud's concept of female hysteria and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" from 1892. Women have been forced into oppression and have not been able to escape gender roles since the beginning of time.

They were, and still sometimes are, treated as objects — decorations for fathers, husbands and sons. Women had to care for the house, raise the children and be completely obedient, and of course, they could not have an opinion.

Back then, the frustration and despair that women felt led them to "insanity" because, according to men, there was no other explanation as to why women were overly discontent. This narrative developed over time into what we hear today: Women are naturally crazy and emotional, so they tend to overlook the rational part of situations.

But they were wrong. Female rage is a response to the systemic barriers, discrimination and violence that women face on a day-to-day basis, including gender-based violence, harassment and unequal treatment in the workplace.

A 2018 study found that 81 percent of women in the U.S. reported "experiencing some form of sexual harassment and/or assault in their lifetime." A 2022 survey pointed out that women in the U.S. earned an average of 82 percent of what men earned.

As of September 2022, the U.S. workforce is made up of 58.4 percent women, but they only held 35 percent of senior leadership positions (even though there is a study that shows that companies with more female executives outperform those with less or none), according to 2022 research.

These numbers should clearly indicate why women are so angry and emotional all the time, and this is not even the beginning. I could fill up entire pages with more numbers, more studies and more proof that women are still fighting every day to be able to live.

Female rage is not just anger and discontent. It comes in different shapes and forms, and it is a way of bringing attention to systematic issues. For instance, the 1991 movie "Thelma & Louise" is a classic example of women using their craziness to combat the patriarchy and the unfairness of our society.

We can also see female rage represented in the arts. Frida Kahlo's iconic painting "Unos cuantos piquetitos" is a brutal representation of a crime that happened in Mexico in the 30s. A man stabbed his wife to death, and in court, he justified himself by saying it was "a few small nips."

Frida's indignation and rage led her to paint a bloody and graphic piece of art that would later become an icon for the feminist movement.

Moreover, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (D-N.Y.) speech at Congress in 2019, where she responded to sexist comments made by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), is also a manifestation of anger and frustration toward the systematic patriarchy and plain misogyny. Her speech pointed out how many women get treated poorly just for being women and the depth of this cultural problem.

Overall, female rage is important. Women's feelings, emotions, opinions and disagreements are valid, and they should be valued. The prevalence of this issue shows how society has pushed gender roles to a point of psychological distress.

Women should know that they have the right to "lose it" without the weight of the patriarchy on their backs.

Representation of female rage is just as important. It brings and creates change, starts discussions and leads to different points of view. That rage and discontent, when put to use, can be actual game changers.

We, as women, should not stay quiet for the sake of peace. We should scream, cry and throw a fit for all of those who suffer gender-based oppression. That is how we change things.

Marina Benitez is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies and minoring in gender and media. Her column, "Hear me out," runs on alternate Tuesdays.

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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