Collage (Photography + Digital paint) and article by Alizée Pichot
This text was originally written in february 2019.
“Feminism isn’t a cloak that I put on in the morning and take off at certain times. It’s who I am. I look at the world through eyes that are very alert to gender injustice, and I always will.”
Chimanda Ngozi Adichie
I have no idea how to feel sometimes. Whilst working on texts, on thoughts, trying to make up my mind on things, I can’t help to feel this stone of anger deep within me. It is moving, fluid, displacing itself as soon as I locate it. But it is a precious stone, as rich as gold, as shiny as silver, my madness is mine and because of that I will always love it. This rage has made me stand up, open my eyes wider every day, it has made me who I am today but still anger, I wish you wouldn’t be here. Once, a man that I love told me “Five minutes of angers equals five hours of recuperation”. Well then, what does this mean if I have lifetimes of anger to get over ?
I don’t know how to face sad mornings anymore because they come so often.
I feel helpless sometimes when Isee and feel suffering, in myself or others.
How can we manage to be free and angerless ? is it even possible ?
Right now, I’m writing and heartbroken, I’m writing and wondering if my feelings are somehow related to my state of mind really. Because If I trust myself, I’d say yes, but, hum, I don’t always trust myself.
My desire to be free comes across my wishes as a lover, as a woman in a relationship with a man, but comes also in contradiction with loving women, oh so differently, from within, since forever.
Heterosexuality has yet failed to free me.
#metoo was a wave, unexpected and violent, and as such, it crushed me. It helped us all see in what world we are living in. Was I surprised ? No. But bruised, damaged, disturbed, so profoundly, it kept me from breathing normally and even now I’m struggling sometimes to stay quiet. #metoo was a mean not to let escape, it was an open road to self-determination, self-expression, self-recognition of the deeply anchored pain of having been assaulted. #metoo was the beginning of the very hard road towards healing. After I first published online my “rape testimony”, I was relieved at first and then, I received messaged from ex-lovers, old friends who thought “nice” to put in question my decision (or not-decision) not to charge my aggressor. How could they sanely think I wanted to discuss with them, on a facebook messenger chat, the traumatic experience I went through. #metoo freed survivors as much as it set fire to a silenced speech from everyone else.
A thought whilst writing on anger : Men are not all monsters, men are real, human, soft and hurt too. Angry ? Yes. I’m always scared of their eyes when they get mad, I’m afraid to be hurt again, I’m afraid to be alone, always, but I’d rather be alone than badly friended, or badly loved.
How can an angry woman be happy with a man who hasn’t reached his point of understanding himself yet? How could I ever be happy with someone and not feel trapped, fooled, misunderstood?
Because women are coming forward, hate and fear are following. The search of balance between evolution and shrinkage of the discourse on rape culture, sexual violence and systemic discriminations is losing so many people on the road. This fact is enhanced by the political state in which we’re living, here in Montreal, but overall in Québec, Canada and North America.
Because we’re not listening to each other, words and solutions are losing themselves in a sea of opinions, perspectives and emotional analysis. I’m not saying these are wrong but in terms of social change, I’d affirm we need a little more consideration and interest from state representatives, institutions and close circles of family and friends.
It also makes me angry to see people shy, timid about talking about themselves and being vulnerable. This angst is not aimed at them but rather towards the system, the very one which mechanisms of power are so strongly intricated in our daily lives that we often forget it is even here, living, outside our house, in our workplaces, in our families, in our relationships. Sexism and structural violences are forced upon us in different forms. May it be the lustrous glass ceiling, the obvious wage gap, the ancestral domestic violence and the shame, of being woman, simply, that comes crawling in our minds and bodies during those hated “bad days”.
Seeing, perceiving and understanding the patriarchal system is, in itself, a liberation. But let us not lie to ourselves, it is also the biggest path towards eternal anger. Let me explain this last point : I know, thanks to education, self-teaching and listening to others’ experiences that sexism, racism, homophobia and capitalist mechanisms of oppression are well and alive. Still, even though I’m doing the work, supporting feminist movements and speaking out as much as I can’t there is a grey (or blood red) area that makes me cringe and think more than others : why am I the first woman of my family who is conscious about racism and the contemporary presence of micro-aggressions and structural discrimination lived by people of color every day across the world.
As a white woman, I was brought up in France in a relatively politicized household, “de gauche” and a bit communist from my grand father’s side. Logically, this fringe of citizens thought themselves antiracist by essence, because they were “open”. Now, I know that it is not true. The path leading to a real deconstruction of our racist reflexes and understanding the history and the present takes a whole bunch of effort and will. If we wish to become accomplices and helpers to communities of racialized beings it takes more than watching a tv show and say “I see you”.
The fact that for centuries we – as white, colonizers populations – pretended to care, to welcome, to help “assimilate” makes me sick. It makes me even sicker to observe that many of the old prejudices are still in action and that the horrendous number of black cis and trans women responsible for a lot of improvements in human rights and social coexistence of ethnically different people and cultures are undermined and invisibilized.
This specific anger, also called “white guilt” is real, it is so real it prevents people from apologizing or even thinking back on their actions or sayings. The responsibility to be okay with our own past and our rooting is entirely ours. Feeling powerless or far away from someone else’s pain or situation is normal. Closing shut your eyes on them is not. Acting as if nothing is happening is not. It makes me angry to be faced to countless humans who I sometimes see as blind, so blind they cannot see the pain when it is everywhere, at the bottom of our actions, decisions, interactions.
Freedom, in this vision, takes the form of a very large and very beautiful wild bird. I like to see it as an unchained eagle, flying freed through limitless skies. Freedom is also an illusion, no need of drugs or mind alteration to believe in it. We are living in societies which want us to think that we are free when we are under surveillance, our actions and performative manifestations in the world depend on the dominant point of view.
That said, consciousness, if intangible and unsure, masters the art of movement. Through accepting change in our perceptions, observations, opinions and decisions, we will continue to be angry, but freedom can also be found in the process. We can flee the darkness with the mind, with an open heart, unconditional love and forgiveness. But we may not give up. Anger is a strength to be used cautiously, it will maybe take a lifetime of healing and protect those who need it.
Women are angry, and will stay that way until freedom is not a concept anymore but an objective reality. Women, we may be not there yet, but our power is stronger than any law, than any ideology. Women from all around the round, we will stay united, our collective vitality will travel across borders and we’ll be seen, soon, as the magical beings that we are.