Good and mad : the revolutionary power of women's anger

by Rebecca Traister

Paper Book, 2018


Checked out


New York : Simon & Schuster, 2018.


"In the year 2018, it seems as if women's anger has suddenly erupted into the public conversation. But long before Pantsuit Nation, before the Women's March, and before the #MeToo movement, women's anger was not only politically catalytic--but politically problematic. The story of female fury and its cultural significance demonstrates the long history of bitter resentment that has enshrouded women's slow rise to political power in America, as well as the ways that anger is received when it comes from women as opposed to when it comes from men"--

User reviews

LibraryThing member rosalita
Wow, this was exactly what I needed to read right now. Using the political nightmare we're all living through right now as her launching point, Traister traces all the ways that women's righteous anger at their status has been systematically diminished, derided and degraded by those who are unwilling to share power — yep, I'm afraid white men don't fare well here. It was striking to me how Traister clearly takes no pleasure in pointing out the ways that even men who believe they are allies undermine the work women are doing, which makes the indictment all the more powerful.

The examples and situations of women's anger being dismissed or turned against them, both historical and contemporary, are as infuriating as they are endless, but she also recounts times when women have persisted and used their anger to effect real social change. It's powerful stuff. I appreciated how Traister didn't shy away from discussing the ways that the righteous anger of women has been undermined by other women, and the frustration and resentment felt by women of color, who have often been vocally agitating on particular issues long before they are "discovered" by white women. There were a number of times that I felt uncomfortable and had to examine some of my own assumptions and behaviors, recognizing that despite my best efforts I have sometimes been complicit in such "whitewashing" and erasure of the important work done by black women.

This book is "hot off the presses," so to speak, covering events that happened as recently as this past spring and summer. Even so, as I was reading it in the run-up to and immediate aftermath of the recent election, I wished I could have read what Traister thought about the historic numbers of women who were elected to both federal, state and local offices this week, and the racial and cultural diversity that they represent.

The book closes with Traister cautioning that while the fury women felt following the 2016 election has compelled many of them to become politically active for the first time, that level of commitment and action will need to be sustained for a long time if the goal of a better society is to be met. It's a marathon, not a sprint, but there may be no one better to run it than all the "moms in tennis shoes" who are learning how not to use their indoor voices.
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LibraryThing member rivkat
If you want to feel better about being angry so much of the time, to hear about women who used their anger to improve the world, and basically to hear a counternarrative about how anger isn’t actually what’s toxic when the anger is generated by abuse and unfairness, this is the book for you. I cried a couple of times, but in relief as well as in sadness.… (more)
LibraryThing member LisCarey
This book was, in some respects, hard to listen to. Early sections of it plunged me right back into what I was feeling in late 2016 and early 2017, and those were not good feelings.

It is, though, a very good, enlightening, informative, and useful look at the women's movement, and its roots and antecedents. Traister examines the ways in which women's anger is both dangerous and useful--and even healthy, which is not something many sources will say about anger. Yet we do know that bottling up anger with no outlet is unhealthy, and it should be obvious that finding useful and productive outlets for it can only be good for us.

But this isn't mainly a book about emotions. It's about the ways the we have had to fight the same battles over and over again, and yet each time making a little bit more progress, with a bit more freedom, a bit more bodily autonomy, a bit closer approach to equality.

And it's about the different experiences that white and black women have, and always have had in this country. African-Americans have never really been able to lapse into complacency, while white women, if they have good relationships with the men in their lives, often can for long periods. One result of this is that African-American women know a great deal about organizing, resistance, and the risks that white women have had to relearn every time another boiling up of resistance against white male patriarchy emerges.

Yet the same social forces that let white women forget about the problems for long periods also mean that white women have valuable resources to bring to the struggle, when social forces remind us that it's our struggle, too.

Traister doesn't put it quite this way, but we need to not get distracted into resenting and fighting too much with each other, but rather learn from each other, learn to collaborate, and focus on what this is really all about.

Parts of this book are very difficult. Not everyone will be in a mental and emotional place where they can read it. But if you can, it's well worth doing.


I borrowed this audiobook from my local library.
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LibraryThing member larryerick
I've been dwelling on the subject of this book a great many years. It was about 50 years ago that I was sitting in an assembly of people listening to a panel of women plus a keynote speaker talking about women's rights. A serious push for an Equal Rights Amendment was what had attracted us to the gathering. At some point during the Q&A, the lead speaker was asked about men helping the cause. Without hesitation, the woman speaker gave a feminist equivalence of the classic, "Men? We ain't got no men. We don't need no men. We don't have to accept any stinkin' men!" As one of a handful of men in the audience, I immediately looked around to see if I was surrounded by sneering women about to make me flee for my life. Nope. I was pretty much invisible and could safely leave at the end of the assembly without incident. However, I have always thought about that moment when I think about asserting myself in defending the rights of the half of the population that was not my own. So, it was with that in mind that I read this book. I have read other books, such as, Kate Harding's Asking for It, Katha Pollitt's Pro, and Roxane Gay's Not That Bad, but this is the first of its type for me that made it clear that while it was written by, about, and for women, it also acknowledged a willingness and benefit that men had to support their mothers, sisters, daughters, and nieces. Whether it is civil rights for blacks, gays, women, non-Christian, or any other so-called "lesser" Americans, according to one of America's major political party, I have to acknowledge that no matter how much I might study and immerse myself in understanding their struggles for full citizenship, I will never be able to feel what they feel down in the marrow of my bones. The author of this book is exemplary in covering a lot of ground in very little space. It goes back ages to set the stage for today. It was first published just a month before the 2018 mid-term elections, and it makes it clear how women in particular got to that point and what was to happen next. The inevitability of what she writes about is so obvious that at first I thought the mid-term election results were already past when this was published. Finally, I will point out that the author specifically ends her book by pointing out a view of "good and mad", of anger, that matches well with my view. If I may, I define "anger" as an emotional response to a perceived injustice. It is the starting point, the energy source, for taking action to erradicate that injustice. The book mentions this anger repeatedly, including the part about women not supposed to be showing any. [Note, for instance, the criticism of the very recent "sipping tea" event by the US Women's National Soccer team, as opposed to a typical male American football player on any given successful play.] The author states: "Being mad is correct; being mad is American; being mad can be joyful and productive and connective. Don't ever let them talk you out of being mad again." I recommend this book for anyone seeking to tackle their perceived injustices in life.… (more)
LibraryThing member caanderson
Great book. This book dives into all the revolutions that women have started and the changes for the better. Very well written, I enjoyed reading about my anger and the anger in all women.


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