Anger gets a bad rap. Especially for women.
We are raised to be demure, deferential, self-sacrificing, patient. Basically—need-less, emotion-less, opinion-less. And anger, well, anger just isn’t pretty. When we express our anger, we are either told to calm down or we get called that last resort of insults, the very uncreative and overused bitch.
But anger is important. It is what Karla McLaren calls the honorable sentry. Anger is our protector, our creator of boundaries, our defender of what is most precious to us, our advocate, our biggest fan.
Anger appears when something has been violated—our voice, our person, our boundaries. Anger says, stop. Anger says you matter. As do your beliefs, dreams, goals, likes and dislikes. Anger says, you do you!
Which is why I’ve always been drawn to the story of Medusa. As the story is usually told, Medusa was raped by Poseidon in Athena’s temple. As a punishment for desecrating her sacred space, Athena cursed Medusa with a head full of snakes and a gaze that would turn men to stone. And Medusa is finally killed when Perseus manages to cut off her head by using his shield as a mirror. It is no accident that it is the removal of her head—the seat of knowledge and power—that is her undoing.
But feminists have begun to reclaim the story. Interpreting Athena as actually protecting Medusa by giving a head of snakes, since it was Medusa’s beauty that enticed the rapist Poseidon. And let’s not forget the obvious symbolism of the snake. Medusa’s message is don’t mess with me; I can hurt you. And this is why many women now embrace the symbolism of Medusa and her struggle for freedom and safety. I’m not a Greek Gorgon, but there’s a lot here I can relate to.
We need our anger. We need to stand up for ourselves. So the next time you feel angry, ask yourself, what is being violated, what needs protection?
And listen to that voice, that loving strong voice in you, and unleash a little Medusa.