Is anger bad for you? Feminist writer Rebecca Traister (All The Single Ladies) used to think so before she wrote Good and Mad. She now believes that suppressing it is worse. "What is good for us is opening our mouths and letting it out, permitting ourselves to feel it and say it and think it and act on it and integrate it into our lives, and the daily expression of our thoughts and opinions, just as we integrate joy and sadness and worry and optimism."
Political anger is Traister's main topic, the power of women's rage to drive social progress. She discusses it from every angle, including the 19th-century women's movement, second wave feminism, the election of Donald Trump and the #metoo movement. Traister examines the cases of Flo Kennedy, Gloria Steinem, Maxine Waters, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. Anger does not work for women the way it does for men, she writes. Female strength is celebrated only when it is not tied to any real power, and censured and erased when it is. Women, and especially women of color, are told that anger is ugly, irrational and counterproductive, that it must be toned down with niceness, humor and civility. The costs of expressing anger in workplaces and families can be too much for many women to contemplate, and Traister is not opposed to judicious self-control. But a public display of fury, Traister writes, can tell others they are not alone, and bring movements together. This book challenges readers with a vision of women's anger as a valuable revolutionary force for social change. --Sara Catterall