Heli St. Luce

Some thougths on emotions

There are only 4 basic human emotions. In Dutch they are called the 4 ‘b’s’: boos = angry, bang = scared, blij = happy, bedroefd = sadness/grief. Some tried to argue that there is basically only happiness and sadness, but grief is the true meaning of bedroefd and while sadness can be a part of grief, grief or the realisation of loss is a quite different arena.

Whenever I go to one the super expensive self actualisations programs that I am so find of, I am (and really should not be by now) continuously surprised at how few people of colour attend these events. There is also the fact that one thing that we (the people of colour) all generally have in common is that outside of our families (and actually this doesn’t even count for most of them) the breakdown of the majority of our personal circles are dominated by a lack of other people of colour.

The programs all preach how we need to move beyond, get over, release, let go of our anger. None of them are actually prepared to get into anger, own it, express it, see it, embrace and allow it as the means to do so
(get over it).

No, anger is something that needs to be denied as our femininity needs to be celebrated. The celebration is sanctioned through the medium of beautifying; hair salons, massages, manicures, pedicures, shopping, facials, gym visits to make sure the semi starved bodies are also muscular and yoga to make them flexible. In addition we need to ‘gild the lily’ with make up, nail varnish, jewellery and crystals.

The exemplification of the superficial (patriarchy): high heels, tight clothes (what is the point of all that yoga and exercise if the benefits to the masculine eye are not displayed clearly are going to allow women to step into a golden future; earn money, compete as equals.

My anger is a positive force, it always has been. Maybe not for the person on the other end. Having recently been the subject of a rage as great as mine I finally understand the emotional battering that it gives, the tension, adrenalin rush, the drive to get away, the feeling of literally having been battered and deep fried like a fish.

I will say that the anger I have been subjected to was always abusive and un true, from a place of trying to erase me rather than the expression of a sense of injustice or betrayal as I feel and have been told has been true of my anger

In all the days of my raging it was never with the express desire to ‘put someone down’, to make them less than me. My anger has been an expression of the volcanic feeling of injustice bubbling to the surface and shooting out.

I gave my anger space initially because I was unable to contain it. Later to validate it in the face of a society telling me that it was inappropriate. People imposing and judging by norms that had always excluded me.

If if has never been your experience to be seen as less than human, a lesser type of female. Someone undeserving of the standards placed on being human you are white. Every person of colour knows exactly what that feels like. Very few white people have the ability to imagine that it is possible, mostly by denying when those feelings arise in themselves.

Over decades I learnt to work with my anger. Accept it, tried to express it in ways that avoided damaging or addressing people. Through most of my 20’s I would trash objects, once devastating and near destroying my whole flat. I learned to keep it to mostly crockery even going to second hand shops to buy plates, cups, anything then heading to a car park or an area of metal bins. Clearing up afterwards was also a part of the cathartic experience. I tried to avoid using it as an attack against individuals admittedly not always successfully especially when my anger was a response to their behaviour.

Women need to get angry. Need to allow themselves the emotion not in the way that it comes out usually now with societal restrictions imposed from birth. Women need to be able to get angry without guilt. I think this would present differently to how female rage generally presents currently. Unlike the scream’y’, whiny, anger they mostly now express; the ineffectual discomfort they show with their emotions. Women need to get a cold, focussed, creative, angry. True anger is a response to a sense of injustice. Female anger currently is usually a response to frustration.

It is true that in a society that demonises anger wherever it comes from and pretty much however it presents unless hidden in passive or micro aggressions. It is not a useful emotion. I would say which of our emotions actually are ‘useful’ to this society? And isn’t that the problem?

Our society is indeniably non humanist. Absolutely devolved from producing, protecting, or cultivating the space acknowldegement and utilisation for the benefit of all, the four basic emotions we feel.

When it is not in reponse to a physical threat. Which unfortunately, given the space men get to express only anger, means that physical threat is implicit in fear generated in response to something one or more of them has said or done*. Fear

Women need to recognise their need to be able to protect themselves physically. Every woman, in my humble opinion should feel confident in being able to defend themselves against physical attack.

If every woman felt the confidence to be able ‘to take someone out’ (incapacitate them enough to be able to get away) if and when necessary. This current society would operate differently. I am advocating the ability to defend oneself not the right to attack. This would go some way to addressing the fact that this society comoditises women. Firstly it instills the notion that women have no right to themselves. It propagates the notion to men and women that men do have ‘rights’ to women(‘s bodies, their emotional support).

However much of a feminist I consider myself it is still a matter of consciously applying myself to avoid making excuses for unacceptable male behaviour. To allow myself the same space and compassion for men’s distress, fear, grief, sadness, less space for their rage.

Heli St.Luce

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