September 22, 2019 | 69° F

Feminist authors offer new framework at Eagleton event

Photo by Jade Chandler |

In the past, it was widely agreed upon that angry women should be muzzled. The opinions of politically-minded women were tamped down by the traditional views of the early 20th century. But times have clearly changed.

On Jan. 29, the Eagleton Institute of Politics hosted an event in which Rebecca Traister and Brittney Cooper discussed the political power of women’s anger. 

Traister is a writer-at-large at New York Magazine as well as a contributing editor at Elle. She's also the author of "Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger," which offered a framework for the discussion.

Cooper is an associate professor in the Department of Women's and Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers University—New Brunswick. Cooper authored the book "Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower." 

The conversation took place in Trayes Hall at the Douglass Student Center, where Traister and Cooper discussed their ideas about the foundation of women's rage and their experiences as females in this world. The discussion sparked applause, laughs and occasional outrage from audience members. 

Traister and Cooper are both influential women in their field, and tackled the limited views of the patriarchal system. They shared their raw thoughts about political establishments and institutions. 

“We live in a world where we see these interesting displays of white male anger show up, and they don’t get narrated as things we should be afraid of. But when women get angry and people of color get angry, then that suddenly evokes fear," Cooper said.

There's no denying the fact that marginalized groups are still belittled for their "passion" toward equality. 

"The quickest way to discredit a woman who's threatening you is to depict her as having her mouth open in direct challenge," Traister said.

Even when women like Hillary Clinton move up the political ladder, they can still be harmed by patriarchal power. Being vulnerable and "angry" is the result of trying to pursue political ambitions in an unwelcome space.

The women explored both men and women's rage, and Traister concluded that this country was built on men's anger. History validated women and people of color's fury due to the long, current fight to achieve the country's principles of liberty that was promised to them. 

Cooper stressed the need for a revolution at a time like this, but not the romanticized, violent kind of revolution. Instead of exciting minorities about change that must engage an already broken system, the revolution she spoke of should be a transformative one that won't repeat past mistakes.

Traister identifies as feminist, and Cooper explicitly emphasized her identity as a Black feminist. Cooper said she's looking to elect candidates for office who put forth an agenda that supports Black people, transgender people, queer people and working-class people.

Both women believe the ideas of understanding anger must change, and that it shouldn't be viewed as a destructive force. Cooper explained how she learned that her displeasure was the very thing that made her good at what she does, and Traister identified anger as being the uniting factor in coalitions of marginalized communities. 

"Discouraged individuals must understand that the source of their resentment can be reinterpreted as a strength," Traister said. 

By being able to acknowledge women's rage instead of dismissing it as anger and allowing it to eat them alive, we need to have conversations on honest terms. If we realize the truth about their anger and are able to speak on their injustices, women can then build movements based on that need for change.

The event was very informative, as the women offered new perspectives on how we can and should engage politically. The event was controversial at times, but one opinion that everyone shared was that women should be muzzled no longer.

Jade Chandler

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