Is Anger Valuable?


Dominique Hunter

Anger can be very useful. It is a way we communicate our boundaries: if we need to protect ourselves or our food (don’t touch a yutkayē’k’s grub 🐻) or family, just like our four-legged relatives. It is also a natural response to injustice.

Womxn and men have been socialized in western culture to express anger and emotions in different ways. Men are encouraged to be more overt with their anger, and womxn  to suppress their anger. And although overall both men and womxn feel shame about their anger, womxn experience more shame. Also, men are often unaware or unwilling to accept that their behavior has reached past a healthy expression of anger to the point of violence. Men and womxn’s anger and the effects of their anger are not equal.

99.9% of the time a full-grown male has the ability to hurt or kill an unarmed womxn if he wants. Also, around the globe most womxn aren’t allowed to healthfully express even mild anger or opposition. This leaves us feeling suppressed and, for many Indigenous womxn who have been historically assaulted, as well as womxn assaulted from all backgrounds, in a constant state of terror of being murdered. Because of this, some of us become very angry and defensive.

As a result of post-traumatic stress disorder, I, myself, have experienced agitation, irritability, hostility, hypervigilance, flashbacks, severe anxiety, and mistrust. Depression, guilt, and a sense of loneliness fueled these other toxic emotions. When I was angry, I became my anger.

Even though in most cases, a male’s anger outpowers a womxn, we also need to recognize that womxn can hurt people too.  Although more womxn are abused and murdered by men, many in our communities have been assaulted, abused, and traumatized, not only physically and sexually, but mentally and emotionally, by men and womxn alike.

Prolonged states of anger also have negative spiritual, emotional/mental, and physical side effects. Some of these include:

  • headache
  • digestion problems, such as abdominal pain
  • insomnia
  • increased anxiety
  • depression
  • high blood pressure
  • skin problems, such as eczema
  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • and a frayed connection to our higher powers and higher self

We have reason to be angry. And though our feelings of anger help to alert us to patterns of injustice, punishment should come primarily from the sense of justice, not from anger. We need to hold unjust aggressive behavior accountable, and learn proactive methods to heal and defend ourselves and our communities. What does this look like? And how do we hold men and womxn accountable for healing from trauma, toxic behavior, and unjust aggression?

“Anger is the punishment we give ourselves for someone else’s mistake.”

Hurting people hurt people. But let it stop here. 

Let us not allow our trauma to reshape our world view into a blur of smoke and anger. Let us not allow the next generation or next person to inherit our pain. Let us be more conscious and honest with our feelings ahead of time, so emotions like fear, sadness, and worry don’t turn to rage, distrust, and hatred. Let’s get proactive and stay active and exercise, an awesome way to let off steam way before warning bells start to go off.

Let’s get to know each other and pace ourselves while healing so we don’t hurt each other. Let’s be patient with those trying to heal and better themselves. Let’s save that anger for these fuckers intentionally separating children from families and for predators from the border to our own communities. 

Let’s take a deep breath, process the pain, and work together to heal from and tear down this up system of colonization.

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