In her non-fiction book Wut und Böse, Ciani-Sophia Höder, founder of Rosa Mag, the first German-language online lifestyle magazine for Black cis-women and QUILTBAG, explains that anger is an important emotion. (The book hasn’t been translated into English yet, the title means “Anger and Evil”) At the same time, she makes clear that anger is embedded in intersecting discriminatory systems. Society expects women in particular to control their emotions and to always smile kindly. This is a problem and women should ignore these expectations, Höder says.
Höder uses anecdotes from her life as hooks, mentions the many conversations she had and refers to research findings about this strong emotion. Research says all genders feel anger from time to time. Society says not everyone is privileged enough to feel (or display) anger. Höder says it’s worthwhile for those who are less privileged in certain respects to reclaim anger. To do that, it’s important to first understand how societal structures deny certain groups of people that emotion – think of tone policing or gaslighting, for example.
Höder’s book is absolutely solution-oriented. Different communities have reappropriated terms, so surely an emotion can be reclaimed. Anger is not necessarily something evil in itself. Rather, it can be an expression of people’s realization that something is evil – unjust social structures, for example. Such anger can serve as a drive; people can use it meaningfully for change, which Höder demonstrates with the founding and success of Rosa Mag. This book gives those who can no longer bear to hear “come on, give me a smile” the tools to hurl a lot of arguments at the speaker, why saying this is, in most cases, inappropriate. On the other hand, precisely such people could also benefit greatly from reading Wut und Böse.
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