Saturday, June 6, 2009

Feminist Anthems: "Something Inside Of Me" (Wicked Wisdom)

Anger is a fascinating emotion. On one hand, it's a natural, normal reaction to a negative situation, just another piece in the range of human expression. On the other hand, though, anger is seen as overly violent, as a nonconstructive way of dealing.

Especially for women.

We're taught that women aren't supposed to get angry. Sugar and spice and all that. We're supposed to collapse and cry in negative situations. Anger is a sort of 'tough job' that is reserved for the men. If we do express anger? We're bitches and shrews.

As feminists/womanists, we're opposed to that concept, of course. We're allowed to be angry. And we certainly spend our fair share of time being angry - enough that the 'angry feminist' is one of the more common stereotypes. There's honestly little wrong with that. Anger gets stuff done.

But there's a further layer to the emotion:

Feminists tend to be angry about something. We're angry about a problem, and want it fixed: a organization created, a law enacted, media representation of x, acceptance of y, society changed. And this song is seemingly the same. It's about sexual abuse of children - a important issue if there ever was one. The singer is rightfully angry about it. "VIOLATED LITTLE GIRLS AND / LITTLE BOYS I HATE THIS WORLD" But notice her 'solution'. It is to change anything? Is it a 'fuck you' sort of reaction?

No, she instead wants to "...break / that muthafucka’s neck"!

This isn't constructive anger. It's simple, unmitigated rage. And yet - at some level it seems completely appropriate. 2,400 children will be sexually abused today, in the US alone. How can you honestly respond any other way?

Now, I'm fairly certain Jada Pinkett Smith isn't actually advocating vigilante violence against child molesters. The song is, after all, entitled 'Something Inside of Me'. Still, this sort of anger is helpful, even needed - as a motivator, as a clarifier, as a release.

There's a place for calm. There's a place for righteous anger, and there's a place for the violent outburst.

Embrace the rage! (But only musically, please...)

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