On the day Judge Brett Kavanaugh was ultimately confirmed to the Supreme Court, regardless of multiple sexual assault allegations and proof of perjury, I woke up angry in our nation's capital, one of thousands of angry women. The rage was palpable; heavy, it sat on me like a weighted blanket, pressurizing the disappointment and fear and fury in me into something that could cut glass. And as I made my way to the Supreme Court to protest Kavanaugh's confirmation, that rage multiplied. I saw it on the face of the mom with a sign in one hand and the pudgy hand of her toddler in another. I saw it in the three best friends, arm in arm, crying as they listened to sexual assault survivors share their stories in front of hundreds of protestors. I saw it in the bodies and faces, the shouting and the tears, of a seemingly endless sea of people moved to action.
And so did my 4-year-old son.
"Oh no, mom! Why is that lady crying?" my son asked, holding my hand and looking up at me with pure concern in his furrowed brow. "Because she's angry, my love," I replied. "Oh no," he said. "She should try and be happy!"
I took a look around me before crouching down to my son's level. The ladies gathered in D.C. were not using their indoor voices. Women were shouting as tears streamed down their face. Women were holding up signs painted red, ragey catchphrases with letters in all caps conveying their utter ferocity to those in the cheap seats. It was undeniable, naked.
"No, baby." I said. "She has every reason to be angry. Your mommy is angry. People are angry, honey. And that's OK. It is OK for me, for you, and for these women to be angry."
While testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Kavanaugh was visibly enraged. In an attempt to defend himself against multiple credible accusations of sexual assault, the D.C. Circuit Court Judge spewed right-wing conspiracy theories, cut off female Senators, attacked Senator Amy Klobuchar after she questioned his drinking habits, and freely alternated between outright yelling and red-faced crying. Senator Susan Collins called Kavanaugh's anger "understandable" and claimed he was reacting as a "father of two young girls." The late-Judge Antonin Scalia's son didn't see anything wrong with Kavanaugh's temperament, because he was "defending his good name." Senator Lindsey Graham saw, "a man who was innocent, who was rightly offended by being destroyed for a political purpose."
He would watch his mom express her anger, surrounded by other women who were equally angry, and he would learn that not only is it OK, but it is a driving force that can ensure this nation moves forward despite taking two steps back.
Across the country, Kavanaugh's anger was celebrated. His partisan hysteria was described as passionate and his rage was considered an honorable example of self-defense. Meanwhile, the sexual assault survivors that stormed the Senate halls, yelled in the galleries during hearings, and confronted their elected officials were chastised for their fury. Senator Orrin Hatch told angry women to "grow up." Fox News' Todd Starns called angry women "animals" and called for them to be tasered. The president of the United States described angry women as "very rude elevator screamers" and "paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad."
A man's anger was justifiable. A woman's anger was deplorable. I fully reject the double standard. And you'd better believe I'll be putting "very rude elevator screamer" in my bio.
I am glad that, on this day, perhaps for the first time, my son saw that women have the right to feel angry. That mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters are all owed the freedom to express their anger with the same shamelessness as men. And in the middle of a historic, painful moment in our nation's history — a moment that moved us into a time in which a third of the men on the Supreme Court have been accused of sexual assault, yet are charged with administering the law at its highest level — my son saw and felt the power of collective rage, and of sisterhood. He took in a picture of thousands of women protesting outside one of the bastions of male power, as the men responsible hid inside. He took part in a scene that challenged the prevailing notion that women are innately domestic and best kept inside, while men are naturally commanding and best fit to brave the big bad world.
I believe it's our responsibility to remind our sons that a woman's anger is to be respected, valued, and considered, not tossed aside as hysteria.
He would watch his mom express her anger, surrounded by other women who were equally angry, and he would learn that not only is it OK, but it is a driving force that can ensure this nation moves forward despite taking two steps back. He would see how powerful our anger can be; how righteous it can be; how valuable it can be, especially when we're not afraid to express it without remorse or apology. A focused rage can mobilize, organize, and revitalize scores of people to evoke positive change.
"This political moment has provoked a period in which more and more women have been in no mood to dress their fury up as anything other than raw and burning rage," wrote Rebecca Traister, author of Good And Mad, in the New York Times this week.
This kind of anger will fuel the next generation of activists to keep pushing against the powerful minority until those who ignored their constituents, hid in elevators, and cowered behind victim-blaming rhetoric are gone. This kind of anger is the well-deserved backlash to the election of a man accused of sexual assault by 22 women.
I believe, as parents, it's important to model an even-keeled temperament for our children. I believe that when they push us to our limits, as children tend to do, it's vital that we convey compassion, understanding, and disciplined reactions of disappointment instead of outright indignation. But I also believe it's vital that we show our children that it's OK to be angry, especially in the face of oppression and injustice. I believe it's our responsibility to remind our sons that a woman's anger is to be respected, valued, and considered, not tossed aside as hysteria. I believe it's our duty to remind our daughters that their anger has value, and they're entitled to feel it with every part of themselves. That anger is not just for white men in positions of power. It is for us all.
So today, I cried tears of anger. I spoke with angry words. I yelled with anger in my voice. I looked upon this nation's Supreme Court with anger in my eyes.
And my son saw it all.