21 Quotes From Rebecca Traister's Timely New Book 'Good And Mad'

by E. Ce Miller
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New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Traister is good and mad — at least, that is, according to her latest book, Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger. Out just days before the divisive (and, as far as Traister was concerned, entirely expected) confirmation of controversial judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court — only the latest event to infuriate millions of American women — Traister’s book celebrates the past, present, and future of women’s rage. Good and Mad chronicles the history of women’s anger and the ways that anger has, sometimes, changed the world. It takes a close, hard look at how women’s anger is received and interpreted and discussed — who is allowed to be angry (white men, some white women) and who isn’t (essentially: everyone else.) A writer who has built a career covering the intersections of feminism and politics, Traister explores everything from the suffrage movement and the Labor Movement to the movements for civil, women’s, and gay rights; the Black Lives Matter movement to the #metoo movement, and more. She considers anger as a catalyst for action.

And yeah, it’ll make you mad. Good and mad.

Whether you’ve already read it or are about to, check out these 21 quotes from Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad — they’ll leave you both furious and activated. Which is right where we need to be these days.

Good and Mad by Rebecca Traister, $27, Amazon or Indiebound

“This is about women, some of whom have been angry for a long time, but didn’t have an outlet for it, didn’t realize how many of their neighbors, their coworkers, their friends and mothers and sisters, felt the same, until someone yelled, loud and fierce and ugly, and everyone heard her. It’s about women who found themselves at the Women’s March holding signs, and experienced a kind of awakening there — one third of those women had never been to a political protest before — and wondered for the first time how they’d been lulled to sleep in the first place.”

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“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.”

“Black women have long been the backbone of our political and progressive past: the strategists and protestors and organizers and volunteers, the women who’ve gotten out the vote and licked the envelopes, pioneered the thinking that led to the revolutions. Yet they’ve been only barely represented in leadership of the political parties they’ve bolstered, their policy priorities have often gone unaddressed and unrecognized, their participation has long been taken for granted.”

“We must come to recognize — those of us who feel anger, who have in our lives taken pains to disguise it, who worry about its ill effects, who rear back from it and try to tamp it down in ourselves for fear that letting it out will hurt our goals — that anger is often an exuberant expression. It is the force that injects energy, intensity, and urgency into battles that must be intense and urgent if they are to be won. More broadly, we must come to recognize our own rage as valid, as rational, and as not what we are told it is: ugly, hysterical, marginal, laughable.”

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“Some of the ideas are very old, some are brand-new; some will transform the world, others will fail. But the anger is moving women and their thinking on inequality forward, in ways that are both legal and tangible, and also imaginative and ideological. And sometimes the anger is working its magic simply by existing, persisting, unrelenting and unapologetic.”

“It’s crucial to remember that women’s anger has been received — and often vilified or marginalized — in ways that have reflected the very same biases that provoked it: black women’s fury is treated differently from white woman’s rage; poor women’s frustrations are heard differently from the ire of the wealthy. Yet despite the varied and unjust ways America has dismissed or derided the rages of women, those rages have often borne substantive change, alterations to the nation’s rules and practices, it’s very fabric.”

“Anger at injustice and inequality is in many ways exactly like fuel. A necessary accelerant, it can drive — on some level must drive — noble and difficult crusades. But it is also combustible, explosive; its power can be unpredictable and can burn.”

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“The women who are suddenly angry, newly angry, and are discombobulated by the intensity of their rage, are not the first to have felt this way. They did not invent rage at injustice, and in addition to realizing that they are in good company, they will find excellent models for activism and expression in the women around them who have never not been angry, and who have done some much work already to change things in America for the better.”

“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. … This was not extraordinary; this was just another Tuesday in America.”

“Women’s anger will be — as it has long been — cast as ugly, unappealing, dangerous, something to be shut down or jeered. Nothing, we have long be assured, is more unattractive in a woman than anger, and those messages will be especially damaging — as they have always been — to nonwhite women. But these are all strategies that have long been used to get people, including women themselves, to look away from, disregard, and suppress one of the great drivers of social upheaval and political change in this country: their own fury.”

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“To campaign on behalf of just over half the population is by definition an unwieldy enterprise, one that tries to represent fundamentally conflicting interests, divergent perspectives, and people from varied backgrounds who have lots of good reasons to distrust, resent, and disagree with one another. The immensity and diversity of the women’s movement has always been used against it by those who fear its potential power.”

“What became infuriatingly evident, through all of it, was how much time and energy women had been forced to spend maneuvering around the harasser, time and energy that might otherwise have been spent in service to their own ideas, work, and advancement. This was the longtime cost for so many women who had dedicated percentages of their careers to fighting the many biases that kept their opportunities reduced and one of the true tolls of anger at injustice: the amount of time it takes away from the work we might otherwise be doing.”

“…While it surely felt cathartic to see it all laid bare, even briefly, the view did not undo the damage. We could not go back in time and have the story of Hillary Clinton be written by people who had not also pressed their erections into the shoulders of young women who’d worked for them. We could not retroactively resuscitate the women who’d left jobs and whole careers because the navigation of the risks, of the daily abuses, drove them out. We could not see the movies or the art that those women would have made, could not live by the laws that they might have enacted, could not read the news as they might have reported it, had they ever truly had a fair shake at getting to tell it their way. The tsunami of #metoo stories hadn’t just revealed the way that men had grabbed and rubbed and punished and shamed women; it had also shown us that they had done it all while building the very world in which we were still forced to live.”

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“Typically only the incivility of the less powerful toward the more powerful can be widely understood as such, and thus be subject to such intense censure. Which is what made #metoo so fraught and revolutionary. It was a period during which some of the most powerful faced repercussion.”

“The experience of having patriarchal control compromised felt, perhaps ironically, like a violation, a diminishment, a threat to professional standing — all the things that sexual harassment feels like to those who have experienced it.”

“This is what the [#metoo] movement had done. It had offered women the chance to hear from others that it had happened to them too, and that they too were angry, and that they too could say it aloud.”

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“The ability to feel the anger and convey it to others is itself the transformative experience for many women. Women’s anger spurs creativity and drives innovation in politics and social change, and it always has.”

“Anger has driven women to develop a million approaches to changing the world.”

“The task — especially for the newly awakened, the newly angry, especially for the white women, for whom incentives to renounce their rage will be the highest in coming years — is to keep going, to not turn back, to not give in to the easier path, the one where we weren’t angry all the time, where we accepted the comforts of racial and economic advantage that will always be on offer to those who don’t challenge power. Our job is to stay angry… perhaps for a very long time.”

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“It is bananas that women’s rage has never been given its proper due.”

“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.”