Angry Women Change The World

Lenina Rassool
Posted January 20, 2020 from South Africa
Image Source: https://artofkush.tumblr.com/post/176631771132

I wrote this poem while navigating the justice system - going through court - and every stakeholder: judge, clerk, lawyer, social worker gave me a different version of the law, each convinced that theirs was correct. 

The well-meaning advice from my (wonderful) support system was 'don't make them angry'. And so I didn't. Until I realised that holding back wasn't helping me or anyone else. Until I realised that there wasn't anything wrong with me, that there's something wrong with the system. 

I recently read that we shouldn't be afraid of anger. Anger is like a roadmap, it shows us where our boundaries are. 

 

- UNTITLED -

Keep quiet – they said.

Don’t be angry.

Don’t piss them off.

 

So I didn’t

I gulped down my anger

like a fish bone stuck in my throat

that no amount of water could wash down

 

And I choked down their dismissal

and disbelief

and rejection

of my truth

 

And I apologised

profusely

before and after

every word I uttered

that made them uncomfortable

 

And I endured their outbursts

in flinching silence

as their angry stares figuratively

whipped me into submission

 

yes yes yes

I ground out through clenched teeth

while tears of anger burned down my cheeks

that I hoped they’d interpret

as sadness instead

 

Because ‘sad’ is what was prescribed

Cry – don’t scream – they said

because if you’re a woman

sadness will get you everywhere

and anger will get you nowhere

 

But what they don’t know

and what I didn’t know

then…

Is that

Sad Women go nowhere

And Angry Women Change The World

Watch out World.

…LR

This story was submitted in response to The Real Me.

Comments 63

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Lisbeth
Jan 20
Jan 20

Dear Lenina,
Haha, you made me laugh. A very interesting poem. Thanks for sharing dear. I took something out of it too.
Warm regards

Lenina Rassool
Jan 20
Jan 20

Dear Lisbeth. I am glad you found it interesting. Thank you for the feedback. :-)

Hello, Lenina,

You had me at the “fishbone stuck in my throat”. What an apt imagery. I had experience that and it’s painful and irritating, esp when it’s stuck for a long time. The trouble is you can get used to it as time goes by. Yikes.

Angry women create powerful poems, too!

You remind me of what my fave professor said on social justice, use your anger to affect social change. You did it, Sister. Keep it up!

Lenina Rassool
Jan 20
Jan 20

Karen, thank you! I am constantly 2-minded about that line but cannot think of a better description -and you have helped affirm it.
And yes, we do - have - been socialised to get used to it. To just be seen, swallow it down or suck it up.
And it is a process to find our voices, mine only started surfacing last year! When the anger reached (internal) boiling point and I said Enough.

I absolutely love what your professor said! I read a quote tonight on Facebook and took it to heart.

"The most revolutionary thing one can do is always to proclaim loudly what is happening." — Rosa Luxemburg.

I still struggle with confrontation, or to raise my voice. But I am determined to speak the truth - if even in a squeaky voice - because the most powerful thing we can do is speak truth to power.

Thank you for wonderful and inspirational comment. X

I admire you for creatively putting a description that illustrates what you feel. That's a real talent.

I agree with you, sister. I'm glad you are now taking action and are connecting with us on World Pulse. You're such a gifted writer. I love that quote. I hope you continue to write.

The pleasure is mine, dear.

maeann
Jan 20
Jan 20

Watch out world :) Lenina is here together with women who are angry to change the world for a better place to live. Watch out World!!!

Thanks Lenina :)

Lenina Rassool
Jan 21
Jan 21

I love that Maeann. Yes, we are angry and we want change. We will change the world, it's in progress. But I also seek to challenge this 'angry woman' as a negative stereotype. It is a justified emotion. They say it as if we go out and attack people ...
Women's anger is constructive. And that's how we use it.
Thank you for your comment and support. X

Jill Langhus
Jan 21
Jan 21

Hi Lenina,

Oh, this is powerful and what a great catalyst to teach other women to honor their feelings, all of them, and to not feel guilt or shame about it, either. Thanks so much for sharing. And, I'm glad that you realized to not choke on the fish bone any longer... great metaphor. It's so difficult when we're socialized to "behave." We will rise and conquer!!

XX

Lenina Rassool
Jan 21
Jan 21

Thank you so much Jill. How apt that uou mention guilt and shame, women are so quick to these emotions as a default. It took a strong process of unlearning to overcome this, although it isn't 100% gone. Awareness is key.
Thank you so much for the affirmation and support..

Jill Langhus
Jan 22
Jan 22

You're very welcome.

Yes! I'm well acquainted with guilt and shame, unfortunately, as a lot of us are.

How did you overcome it?

XX

Tamarack Verrall
Jan 21
Jan 21

Dear Lenina,
I want to leap in joy at your words. Yes! The most negative stereotype of a woman is that of an "angry woman". And yes, we are forced to edit our words "like a fish bone stuck in my throat that no amount of water could wash down" to avoid punishment, to avoid whatever effort we are making being rendered negative, and dismissed. Yes, we are allowed to be sad but not angry. Despite all of the violence being done to women and girls everywhere. "She is an angry feminist" was coined so many years ago to try to stop us. Let us continue to increase our roar of fury here together, more than justified, we are beyond being acceptable to men who continue to dominate, we are here to finally change this world to one in which violence in any form is unacceptable.

Lenina Rassool
Jan 21
Jan 21

Tamarack, if I could love your comment 1000 times, I would! Thank you for your words and recognition of systemic silencing.
A roar of fury it absolutely is...and a justified one. The only thing i hope to do is spread this, along with information and tools. It's amazing how marginalised and isolated women still are, both internally and externally, from centuries of oppression.
But we are living in the information age now. We are connecting and sharing more than ever.
We are poised to change the world..
Thank you for activism and support.

Tamarack Verrall
Feb 02
Feb 02

Dear Lenina,
So true how shocking it is, how strong the oppression on women with the intent to keep us from believing we deserve different, and/or that it can be so different. And that we are being lied to every time we are told "It has always been this way". So glad to link arms with you here.

Queen Sheba D Cisse
Jan 21
Jan 21

Dear LENINA,
Yes I do so agree to Step up and speak out takes courage. Depending on where you are residing you may be beaten or worse killed. Nevertheless keep fighting the good fight my dear. We women sisters here aim to keep it real!
Peace and blessings,
Queen

Lenina Rassool
Jan 21
Jan 21

Thank you Queen. Yes it indeed a dangerous activity. In South Africa, women still get beaten constantly for questioning, standing up for themselves and challenging. Globally, the most dangerous time for a woman is when she is leaving a relationship. And we all know thr danger of challenging institutions - but we must, because the alternative is to continue as we are.
And we cannot.
Thank you for your comment and support. Keep fighting my sister.

Queen Sheba D Cisse
Jan 22
Jan 22

Absolutely Lenina, #Westandwithyou !
Sincerely,

Queen

Marie Abanga
Jan 21
Jan 21

Oh yes sis,
When we are angry we tell our stories and we go for it in ways others who are complacent or scared wouldn't.
Light and love

Lenina Rassool
Jan 21
Jan 21

Oh yes Marie. That is exactly what is needed. And as with Harvery Weinstein, when enough of us stand up and shout the truth, they cannot ignore us.
Thank you for your comment and support.

MADELEINE BWENGE
Jan 22
Jan 22

Merci Lenina pour votre message poétique qui prouve combien la colère féminine peut changer une situation . Ceci prouve combien l'état d'âme d'une femme peut marquer sa détermination à révolutionner les choses. Courage ma chère, en union avec toutes les femmes qui aspirent au changement positif.

Madeleine Bwenge

Lenina Rassool
Jan 22
Jan 22

Dear Madeleine, thank you for this beautiful comment and support. I had to use Google translate and will paste it below so that all World Pulse followers and commenters may read it, as it is a call and affirmation for all of us. I believe we shall effect a revolution, in fact, I believe it has already begun. Thank you.

Translation: "Thank you Lenina for your poetic message which proves how female anger can change a situation. This shows how much a woman's state of mind can mark her determination to revolutionize things. Courage my dear, in union with all women who aspire to positive change"

otahelp
Jan 22
Jan 22

Dear Lenina you are on point. Seriously anger directed rightly will surely change the world. #IStandWithYou

Lenina Rassool
Jan 22
Jan 22

Dear Otahelp - thank you for your comments and support. I believe we shall.

Hello Sister Lenina,
Powerful words! I agree that constructive angry women change the world. Because we have to be angry about what is occurring regarding the violation against women and girls. Keep writing and I look forward to reading your future posts.

Regards
Sherna Alexander Benjamin
Together we can Create Because a better world is possible.

Lenina Rassool
Jan 30
Jan 30

Thank you so much Sherna, and yes! I was just saying the world's tolerance for violence against women and girls is way too hihj!
Appreciate the support. X

Wendy Stebbins
Jan 22
Jan 22

Hi,
This is an amazing poem. You have a wonderful talent and your words are an inspiration to me.
Thank you.
Wendy Stebbins

Lenina Rassool
Jan 24
Jan 24

Hi Wendy,

Thank you so much! It means so much to know that the words can inspire people. It is the reason I keep going.
All the best.
Lenina

lizzymark
Jan 23
Jan 23

Wow Lenin's what a beautiful piece. Anger is not bad,but are used in a bad way is bad. No need to be quiet,we get angry at the injustice and unfair treatment and the violence and so we stand to fight against them all,doing that we sure change the world. A woman is an agent of change for sure. Thanks for shearing

Lenina Rassool
Jan 24
Jan 24

Thank you Lizzymark,
And you are 100% right. Many say that change is coming as women use our collective anger constructively to push for change.
Thank you for you comment and support

Elizabeth Ziro
Jan 23
Jan 23

Wow!
This is so timely, thanks for sharing. I have learnt something I was not sure about.
Do have a good time

Lenina Rassool
Jan 24
Jan 24

Dear Elizabeth!
Your comment has touched my heart. I do hope it resonates with women. We are start out fearful and unknowing. and I believe that we learn as we go and through this gather more agency.
Whatever you have to face, know that the answers are inside you.
All the best.
Lenina

Carol Sunborn
Jan 24
Jan 24

I believe many women have a bone in their throat for so long. Because they are young, because they are poor, because they are caught in the justice system, because they have children or other family to protect, because they are preyed upon.
Thank you for your bravery and your courage to be angry and eject the bone. Powerful poem.

Lenina Rassool
Jan 24
Jan 24

Dear Carol,
You are completely right! Sometimes I think women are born with a bone into the throat, but then I remember, it is put there at birth, Just because of our gender. Smile, don't cry, you're too pretty, don't be a troublemaker, just keep quiet...
We're supposed to be good, pretty little girl.
But that isn't working for anyone.And yes, it takes bravery and courage to overcome years of ingrained - and I believe inherited - submissiveness. But we are doing it.
Thank you for your comment and support.

Njemo Naomi Mabuh
Jan 24
Jan 24

Thank you so much for sharing this piece of yourself to us. Our words are our thoughts borne from our expiriences....and it isn't too difficult to see through your words that u are a beautiful soul that is strong and has gone through great ordeals.
The bottom line is...you are a winner amd that's what matters...
Our status quo, the government, policy makers etc may never stand in favour of the "minority" as we're called. But one thing stands, our strength is unbeatable and we'll keep winning

Lenina Rassool
Jan 30
Jan 30

Dear Njemo,
Thank you for your kind words, it gives me courage. And I agrer, but always remember that it is minorities that topple governments. In fact, recent research sjows it takes just 3.5% of a population protesting.
Keep up the good fight. X

Chinyere Kalu
Jan 24
Jan 24

Woah ! What a beautiful way to vent your anger. We must'nt let the system chock our voices no matter the situation may be. Every woman has the right to speak out.

Lenina Rassool
Jan 30
Jan 30

Definitely not Chinyere! Speaking out is the first step in taking back our power. Thank you x

Felicitas Wung
Jan 24
Jan 24

Hey sister Lenina, I love that wonderful poem. Thank you for sharing.

Lenina Rassool
Jan 30
Jan 30

Thank you Felicitas. X

Anita Shrestha
Jan 26
Jan 26

Dear Sis
Thank you for sharing. Inside anger there is happiness. Sothat you win. best of luck dear

Lenina Rassool
Jan 30
Jan 30

Thank you Anita and yes, there definitely is. And we shall reach that space. :-)

Obisakin Busayo
Jan 26
Jan 26

Yes my Sister! An inspiring poem, thank you for sharing with us
Love
Busayo

Lenina Rassool
Jan 30
Jan 30

Thank you Busayo, it is a huge pleasure. X

Dr Jackie
Jan 27
Jan 27

yeyyeyyeee, I see an advocate who is so ready to chart the course for women. Your beautiful poem speaks volumes Lenina. As I was reading through, I really did not want it to end but unfortunately, it did. I can't tell the number of times I have felt this bone stuck in my throat. Each time I see a 16 years old girl who comes to my office and will not leave because she does not know what her goodwill uncle will do to her after learning that she is pregnant.....the anger bubbles especially as this is a frequent thing to find. But guess what? Now, even when I find myself in the company of old women and men, I can comfortably start a conversation on youth and family planning and sexuality. That is just how far my anger is getting me and I know I will go further than this.

Please write more.....it will be great to read from you often.

Cheers!

Lenina Rassool
Jan 30
Jan 30

Dearest Auntie Jackie!
Thank you for your words! You are doing amazing work in the field. I resonate so much with those girls, and get so angry about the one-sided stigma, the stereotyping, the physical and emotional violence.
I wish you blessings and love in your work. You are changing the lives of so many and changing the world. Xcc

Kadi_lokule
Jan 28
Jan 28

This poem perfectly describes all the frustration that women go through in the legal systems - i have arelative who is experiencing the same and it is sad because they said to her "If you had a grown up son or a husband maybe we would consider your situation" angry is all it makes me. Thanks for sharing this relatable piece

Lenina Rassool
Jan 30
Jan 30

Kadi that makes me extremely angry. The justice system is one place that needs extreme change. It was created by men for men, because at the time they never imagined that women could also have rights.
And still now, as they (slowly) add legislation that recognises women as humans, it is still men who largely decide on this legislation.
Change is slow but it is happening. Keep fighting xx

Hawwah
Jan 29
Jan 29

Dear Lenina,
Gosh, reading this poem gave me goosebumps.
Shot my adrenalin and turned my mouth dry, because I can so relate.
In fact, I believe many women can relate.
Yes, we are angry, and that is why we are changing the world.
Thank you for sharing.

In love and sisterhood

Lenina Rassool
Jan 30
Jan 30

Thank you Hawwah. Change is definitely coming! Keep at it and thank you for the support. Sending strength x

TataWirba
Jan 30
Jan 30

Hi Lenina.
I trust you are doing ok.
Your story is a heart touching one. Women have a tangible reason to be angry because of the bias given to women on daily bases. We have to stand as one to change the mind set of those looking women as nothing.
Love and blessings
Tata

Lenina Rassool
Jan 30
Jan 30

Thank you Tata for acknowledgement of the issue and for being part of the solution. We shall all have to contribute to make this a better world.

TataWirba
Jan 30
Jan 30

Sure thing Lenina

uduakedet
Feb 02
Feb 02

Lovely poem, you are right that anger is a very strong emotion that shouldn’t be overlooked because it sometimes points to our assignment in life. Thank you for this

Conny Shamu
Feb 06
Feb 06

I love your poem
Thank you for sharing with us

Hugs Conny.

Lenina Rassool
Feb 18
Feb 18

Thank you Conny. It means a lot knowing it meant something to you. x

Mercy Vernyuy Munyuy

Dear Lenina
I love this poem.anger is really like a road map to show us where our boundaries are.
Wish you more inspiration

Lenina Rassool
Feb 18
Feb 18

Thank you Mercy and yes, anger is exactly that. Something which took me such a very longt time to learn.
I wish you much strength and inspiration on your journey as well. x

Adriana Greenblatt
Feb 15
Feb 15

Lenina, wow thus moved me and resonated with me at a time I am “making friends” with anger. This struck me:

“Because ‘sad’ is what was prescribed

Cry – don’t scream – they said

because if you’re a woman

sadness will get you everywhere

and anger will get you nowhere“

Wow. I spent years afraid of anger and still am working at this - having been punished, like so many of us, for expressing needs let alone anger. Thank you for writing this, thank you for sharing, thank you for voicing your anger. Anger is a catalyst for seeing our boundaries and a catalyst for action indeed.

Hugs!
Adriana

Lenina Rassool
Feb 18
Feb 18

Ahhh Adriana! It is a struggle we - and so many women share. Largely because we are socialised to be 'nice' and anger is so discouraged and associated with shame. But as someone above said - and I have learned - anger is actually a protective, useful emotion. It shows us where our boundaries are.
I wish you all the very best on your journey and please share some angry insights and tips with us as you continue your journey. x

Adriana Greenblatt
Feb 22
Feb 22

Yes Lenina - this is a struggle for so many of us. Part of this process for me is redefining what "nice" and being "good" actually means to include my anger. A major lifelong process of unlearning for me and so many, especially when we are taught that expressing needs and anger comes with punishment, and even violence. A tension for me that arises is that a core value for me is empathy and compassion - and how to live this to include anger and not understand this as excusing behaviour. I am learning to understand this empathy and compassion (especially self-compassion) differently as I own my anger and experiences, as something that can actually bring about greater accountability and a catalyst to express limits, and make change as you say. I will be sharing as insights come up!

From your angry in solidarity sister in Montreal, Adriana

Girlpower.together
Feb 17
Feb 17

Enjoyed reading that!

Lenina Rassool
Feb 18
Feb 18

Thank you so much!

Kay Link
Feb 18
Feb 18

This poem is much needed inspiration. I have locked my anger deep inside me, my own inner voice telling me to quiet it. But you are so right that "Angry Women Change The World"! Thank you, Lenina, for helping women like me see that our anger is also a powerful tool of change.

Lenina Rassool
Feb 18
Feb 18

Dear Kay, Thank you so much for your comment. I too, locked my anger away for a longest time. It debilitated me - I could not stand up for myself, didn't know which way (or behavior) was right or wrong and made so many bad choices in the process.
But there has been progress. I am slowly starting to build a relationship with my anger, and fear, and sadness as well as joy and happiness, because when we numb the bad things, we numb the good things too.
I wish you all the best on your journey. xx