What Am I, Chopped Liver?
It’s spring in the southern hemisphere. A cause for celebration? Yes! And … no.
It means spring-cleaning and renewal. But we’re not only talking tidying drawers, squeaky-cleaning the kitchen, re-grouting the bathroom tiles, and physical detox, here. We’re also talking cleansing our psychic innards.
Heavy-duty stuff, this last one, and hardly a reason for a bacchanalia. Au contraire, in fact. Tippling isn’t good for the liver.
In Chinese medicine, spring is liver season. In Chinese medicine, the liver is about anger, resentment, frustration, irritability, bitterness. Spring is when my (and possibly, your) garden-variety anger grows horns.
For a lot of us women, anger can feel like our default setting. The source of it at a personal level? Let’s use the umbrella term ‘childhood injustice’. As for social injustice, that one goes way, way back. And when this emotion we’re feeling is not simply the I’m-a-little-pissed-off kind, but more the I’m-fucking-outraged! sort, it’s usually bloomin’ historical anger that’s sprouting!
What then got my dander up when spring sprung a few weeks ago?
It was an article about the Gen X woman’s wrath, which was attributed to inequality and having to juggle careers and family. Justifiable rage. But what it conveyed was that this one generation had exclusive rights to it.
Well, I’m a baby boomer and I’m still alive and kicking (up a stink and a storm)!
As are many women from my generation and, also, some from the preceding one: the ‘silent generation’.
No Spring Chicken
We boomers (and silent gens) may not be expressing our outrage outwardly because we came from an era where that old chestnut, ‘children [read, girls] should be seen and not heard’, hadn’t completely lost currency. Then modern psychology labelled us as repressed. I call bullshit on that because repression is an illusion.
The pain might have been buried, but it’s not dead: it could be that our bodies speak on our behalf—an ‘inrage’ in the form of aches and pains or disease.
But here’s the thing, dear Gen X-ers. The apparent reasons for women’s anger might shapeshift with each generation, but what lies beneath is the same for all of us. And because we were put in our place in the patriarchal pecking order back then—kept on the sidelines and out of the picture—if you don’t, at the very least, acknowledge that the female rage has a history that predates you, you do a disservice to your foremothers, which does a disservice to all women; to the sisterhood.
So, to my Gen Y (and Gen Z) off-spring, please honour that multigenerational anger. Please honour the women who came before you and whose courage made it possible for you to unashamedly voice your indignation. That will be cause for celebration.