The fire beneath the femme skin

The cultural phenomena that encourages a woman’s right to be angry.

What is rage? Is it the feeling you get when you spill your coffee all over yourself or when your car breaks down in the middle of the road? What about when you get stuck doing all the work in a group project? Is that rage? No, rage runs deeper and is more complex.

To most, rage and anger are immediately associated with men. You can watch the news, listen to the radio or scroll through your phone. It’s right there, unavoidable proof; aggressive comments flood a girl’s TikTok because she’s plus-sized and proud, another YouTuber outed as a groomer, abuser, or rapist, even how Andrew Tate has brainwashed an entire generation of teens to believe that the sigma male is entitled to a woman’s body.  Male rage is the urge to destroy, to be cruel and snarky with no apparent reason other than because they’re a man, and they can.

Photo by 20th Century Fox | Screen grab from “Jennifer’s Body”

To men, a woman’s anger is psychotic and crazy. They talk about women as unstable, controlling, and demanding. When a woman is angry, she cries, she screams hysterically, she begs for their attention, she isn’t capable of independence and doesn’t know what she would do without them – again, a reflection of a man. But we women know we have layers and depth. There is more to us than the tears men tell us we shed.

Feminine rage can be best described as a recent cultural phenomenon that has swept through art, media and pop culture. In recent years, social media has allowed feminist movements to mobilize and raise their voices unapologetically. The world has never been more aware of misogyny and hate crimes, even if they refuse to accept the truth. I am sure that everyone remembers the rise of the #MeToo movement on Twitter on October 15, 2017, and how it changed the internet forever. Millions of women used this movement to confess their experience as SA survivors: victims of abuse, assault, and rape. Foundations were built in solidarity with every single woman that came forth, and from then on, the internet became a confessional for minorities across the globe. 

Many people will argue about the negative impacts of this. How many will take advantage of this medium and lie about their experiences for clout, profit, or simply pettiness? But this applies to anything in life. There will always be a downside to everything, and there will always be horrible people who try to ruin things for those who are actually suffering. But when the pandemic hit, the world was thrown into further disarray. When people began feeling depressed, positivity was implemented throughout pop culture and media. While this positive lifestyle trend helped many people, it also spawned a new movement that was already a bit prevalent in the mid-2000s: “forced positivity,” or “toxic positivity.” 

Women encouraged each other to be beings of light and love. The words “manifest” and “good vibes” became the golden standard in women, as if everyone suddenly was riding the good vibes train. While I believe this mindset can be helpful, I also believe that it isn’t healthy. Showing any form of the human flaw was called out for being “toxic.” Making mistakes became a mortal sin, and if you weren’t happy 24/7, you were a horrible person.

Women have begun being unapologetically honest, to the point that they don’t care if it makes men uncomfortable.

It was only three years later that women acknowledged how damaging this lifestyle is. Almost globally, we’ve seen a shift in behavior among women throughout all cultures. Women have begun being unapologetically honest, to the point that they don’t care if it makes men uncomfortable. Mostly speaking up about important female-centered situations and their own experiences; crimes, their everyday lives as women and their struggles with mental illness and trauma. TikTokers have flooded the app with women screaming at the top of their lungs and speaking passionately about their unhappiness. We’ll see clips from movies like Jennifer’s Body, Black Swan and Hidden Figures where the main characters are experiencing moments of unfiltered rage and the video comments will be filled with “same” and “omg me.” 

Musicians like Halsey have embraced this and created an entire album revolving around how they embrace their fury to flame their ambitions: “If I can’t have love, I want power.” Other examples include the recent hit “Kill Bill” by singer SZA, based on the movie by the same title, where a woman sets out on a journey of revenge against all the people who did her wrong. In this song – though – SZA talks about her jealousy. This shows the generalization men tend to have against angry women. Except here, SZA reclaims that and owns it by showing that she is not hysterical, but instead is methodical and calculated. As of today, it is in the top 40 most replayed songs worldwide. 

Touching on more than just music and film, women have begun applying these philosophies to their daily lives. Feminine rage has been a trending hashtag in TikTok since October of 2022 and is still highly relevant today. Influencers like self-proclaimed “bimbo” Chrissy Chlapecka have taken to social media to spread the message of sexual liberation and the rage against men, all while looking super cute in pink outfits. New metal singer, Banshee, has made her entire discography based on her hate against abusers and her own struggles overcoming sexual trauma. Jeanette McCurdy, the ex-Nickelodeon star, wrote an entire memoir of the abuse she endured from her mother and how she accepted that her closure was allowing herself to hate her mother. Lil Mariko, a screamo singer and model, began making songs about being dominant in life and in the bedroom, making fun of the 4-chan incels that fetishize Asian women. 

Truthfully, I could go on for hours about all the women who have continued to apply these philosophies to everything they do and encourage others to do the same. As a victim of bullying, abuse, and sexual trauma, I have struggled with self-esteem issues for almost my entire life. I felt ashamed to be a woman because I was so often sexualized. I lived in fear because I never knew when it could happen again. But finding this community, this movement helped me find a part of me that I didn’t know existed. I began prioritizing myself and allowing myself to feel anger. I no longer felt shame for my negative emotions or for struggling. Instead, it helped me find strength in even my lowest moments. Now, I can scream along to my favorite musicians who perfectly encapsulate OUR rage. I can appreciate the art by women who have survived and endured. I can fill my life with women who also aren’t afraid to say no. If he doesn’t like it, he’ll have to go through us – and we won’t go down without a hell of a fight.