Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is a veritable internet darling, earning swoons and sighs from feminist, economic and political nerds alike. Forgive the pun: I think this love is freakin' warranted.
Her most recent speech in defense of Planned Parenthood inspired even more praise for getting to the heart of the frustrations in the reproductive justice and women's rights movements. She was informed, she was impassioned, and yeah, she was angry.
I have every feeling about Elizabeth Warren, TBH. She's simultaneously my political MOM, wife and Jedi master: I regularly say a quick prayer to my blessed trinity -- Beyoncé, Warren and The Holy Streep -- before making any major life decision, I'm contemplating making a statue of her out of ABC gum and uncooked macaroni to sit on the corner of my desk and sometimes, I think about her speeches late at night as I'm about to fall asleep and just...
But, not everyone feels this (okay, admittedly creepy) love for her. In March, Warren Buffet, said she was "too angry," a sentiment echoed by a few other (mostly male) voices. But being considered "too angry" (or too anything) is never a worry for men in politics -- or, like, life. That same kind of energy in men is instead translated as passion, magnetism or some other sexy word that sells their leadership skills.
Meanwhile, women are conditioned to feel like their anger (like most of their emotions) is a weakness. To be effective, we need to package our passions in a way that's palatable, lest we appear like a harpy, shrew, crone or any other colorful archetypal term thrown out by pundits who probably tell random women to smile on the street.
It gets even worse for many women of color, who are often fighting more complicated, racial stereotype-fueled battles. Women don't have a chance to just feel things and act as they see fit -- they always have to analyze how their next move might mesh with these expectations first.
And, really, all that talk about the efficacy of anger -- especially as it centers around women -- only works to silence them. There's a difference between asking that our leaders craft a passionate and level-headed argument, and wanting their points to be friendlier (read: easier to dismiss.). Oftentimes, when a woman is receiving those "calm down" or "rephrase and direct" suggestions, it's just another way of saying, "sit down and shut up."
But watching Warren in action is something special -- it can leave you with a powerful rush of validation. Like, yes, all of these feelings you're having are real, the problems do have names and that there are other people who want to fight the same dragons you do. You feel like you're in the trenches alongside a leader who gets you and that, together, you have the tools to make some change.
Even if we don't ever end up seeing Warren in the White House, (which, sorry, is really probable) just having her voice -- and her particular brand of passion and magnetism -- out there on the senate floor is enough to let us know that we can take all this anger, frustration and hurt and we can build.