On Being a Woman: And the Anger that Sometimes Comes Along with It

As I was talking with some friends recently, I mentioned the anger that I’ve been confronted with in myself ever since I became a mom. I brought up how I had been working through some of the bad messages that I’ve internalized about womanhood, motherhood, and being a wife and how unpacking them and sifting through them has revealed some angst and inner tension in me.  

I expected to bring up this anger and for my friends to be kind and caring, but have no idea what I was talking about. To my surprise, each of them understood exactly where I was coming from and shared their own stories of confronting that anger. Instead of this conversation leading to more anger and complaining, it broke me open and led to healing and peace.

I don’t think anger is a good thing; I think it’s harmful, and I operate under the belief that “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” Humility, love, and grace are necessary to move forward, and I’ll talk about that in the next post.

But I think to move forward, we have to talk about it, for two reasons: For one, feeling anger is inevitable. The comments I’ve gotten from several of you about my last post has further confirmed that I’m not alone in my anger and frustrations. I don’t think we’re going to suddenly stop feeling the angst that comes along with being squeezed into a box that we don’t belong in.

We also need to talk about anger because we feel alone in it sometimes, and that can lead us to even more frustration. Healing often comes, like it did for me, in realizing that we’re all dealing with the same issues, feeling the same hurt, and working towards the same goal.

We can learn and grow from talking about our anger and from realizing what we get angry about. Here are a few things I’ve experienced and heard from some of you. We get angry because:

We often feel undervalued, put-down, and patronized, and yet it is all subtle and under the surface, so we can’t call anyone on it.

We often find that everything we do as a human person is interpreted as us trying to “prove ourselves as women.”

We feel guilt all the time. About everything.

To be fair, a lot of that guilt is self-imposed, and then we feel bad about that.

We’re often confronted with the idea that having a husband would, or does, supplement the image of God in us.

We find that for single women and women without children, the focus is always “When are you going to get married?” and “When are you going to have kids?”

And then you bring kids into the equation, and...

We feel like we have to choose between having a killer career and a stable family.

We get mixed messages. We intuit the message that working moms don’t care quiiite as much about their children as stay-at-home moms. But from the very same people we intuit the message that, deep down, stay-at-homes are kind of stupid and lost every hint of gifting, ambition, and education when they became mothers (even though they are “doing such high and holy work of changing diapers”).

We find that others tend to forget that we are individual people outside our relational roles as “wife” and “mother.”

We know the assumptions people make about us based on what we decide about children and childcare and our careers.

Maybe most of all, we get angry that the church, which should be at the forefront of affirming, empowering, and validating women like Jesus did has often done just the opposite.

If those things have brought about some anger in you, rest assured that you are not alone, you are not reading into things, you are not too sensitive. We all feel it together, and we need to learn to deal with it together.

It’s harmful to give into anger, but I also think it’s harmful to deny its existence or to sweep it under the rug. It’s important to first acknowledge that it’s there, and why it’s there. Then, we can learn from what we get angry about and use it to make the world better, instead of making us bitter. More thoughts to come on that in my next post.

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash