Two Southern belles on the run get catcalled one too many times by the same schlubby dude; they blow up his truck. A couple of rough-and-ready French chicks talk their way into an architect’s house...and point their Smith & Wessons at him. 'It’s clear to me,' one of them tells him affectionately, 'that you stand out from our past encounters.' Then she shoots him in the face. 'Get your fucking hands off me, goddamn it!' yells a leader of the National Women’s Political Caucus at the 1972 Democratic National Convention, addressing the member of the white-guy network-news crowd who is trying to restrain her as she rages over their failure to cover her group’s contributions ... Furious women make for good montage. It’s true that the examples above are angry for very different reasons and channel their anger in very different ways; it’s also true that the first two scenarios are fictional. Still, together they give you a glimpse of the kinds of pleasures and frustrations on offer for readers of Good and Mad, journalist Rebecca Traister’s reported manifesto on feminism after Trump.
Instead of a theory of male anger, we have a growing literature in essays and now books about female anger, a phenomenon in transition. Rebecca Traister’s new book, Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger, scrutinizes its causes, its repression, and its release in the last half-dozen years of feminist action, particularly in response to the treatment of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, and in the remarkable power shift that women demanded in #MeToo.
In her rousing look at the political uses of this supposedly unfeminine emotion, Traister... cites the 18th-century slave Elizabeth Freeman, whose suit for freedom in the Massachusetts courts... led to that state’s outlawing of slavery... [and inspired] a larger labor movement; Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton; Frances Willard and Carrie Nation; Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Florynce Kennedy, Gloria Steinem and Andrea Dworkin, as well as many less famous women who were part of the abolition, suffrage, temperance, labor, civil rights and feminist movements ... The movement Traister spends most of the book analyzing is the one currently unfolding, the wave of female-led, progressive activism that began with Black Lives Matter, swelled after Trump’s election and produced a major shift in the cultural consensus on sexual harassment through #MeToo.