Most of the time, female anger is discouraged, repressed, ignored, swallowed. Or transformed into something more palatable, and less recognizable as fury — something like tears. When women are truly livid, they often weep.
Maybe we cry when we’re furious in part because we feel a kind of grief at all the things we want to say or yell that we know we can’t. Maybe we’re just sad about the very same things that we’re angry about. I wept as soon as Dr. Blasey began to speak. On social media, I saw hundreds of messages from women who reported the same experience, of finding themselves awash in tears, simply in response to this woman’s voice, raised in polite dissent. The power of the moment, the anxiety that it would be futile, the grief that we even had to put her — and ourselves — through this spectacle, was intense.
But it’s not just sorrow mingled with our wrath; our impulse toward tears in moments of fury stems also from an instinct that things will go better for us tactically — especially if we are white, our perceived feminine fragility more easily discernible and likely to elicit sympathy within a white patriarchy — if we emote through tears, which are associated with women’s vulnerability, rather than through rage. Crying affirms many of us as female, and if you’re a woman, comporting yourself in traditionally female ways is rewarded, while lashing out is punished.