What The Women's March Taught Me About Anger
I used to think that nothing good came from being angry. This changed when I was sent to Washington to report on the Inauguration and the Women’s March in 2017.
As hundreds of thousands of women and men are marching across North America this weekend, to commemorate the first anniversary of the Women’s March last year, I have been reflecting on how attending the march in Washington had changed me in a professional and personal way.
After Donald Trump won the presidential election last year, I felt like I had sunk to the floor. A man whose entire campaign was built on racism, Xenophobia, bigotry and sexual assault was deemed fit to run a country. Seeing the news coverage that night, I felt my heart pounding in my ears. My hands trembled and I couldn’t keep them still. My entire body felt like agonizing hellfire, boiling through my veins, igniting every inch of my body. Yet through all of those intense emotions, I couldn’t vocalize my anger. Or, more accurately, I wouldn’t.
For most of my life, I always thought that if I admitted I was mad at something or someone that meant that I lost. I had associated anger with a loss of control, something that I always needed in my life to feel safe. After the election, I desperately needed to feel safe. When people asked for my opinion about Trump, I would downplay my emotions as being shocked. If I was angry, didn’t that mean that he was winning?
When my school sent me to Washington to capture all of the coverage for our school’s newspaper, there were a number of times I had to keep my emotions in check. I had been called “Fake News” multiple times, had to bear witness to numerous altercations between Trump and Clinton supporters and I saw more people engage over hatred and violence than over peace. It was enough to drive me over the edge, but I still couldn’t admit that I was angry about these circumstances. I kept telling myself that if I caved in to my anger, I wasn’t going to accomplish anything other than my own frustrations.
That is, until the day after the inauguration, when I covered The Women’s March.
Over 500,000 people marched in Washington. The march was the single largest political demonstration since the anti-Vietnam War protests in the 60s and 70s. The theme of the day was unity and peace, hence why there were no arrests made in Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City and Seattle. Everyone who marched was open to one another, myself included.
I had interviewed several different women, who all came from different walks of life, who all had one hope: to fight for what they believed was right.
I asked all of my participants the same question: “Why are you marching today?” Some women marched because they, like many other people, were appalled when Trump mocked a reporter with disabilities. Some marched because they wanted to change the narrative about sexual assault.
There was one answer that left me speechless. She was an older woman and her face was all laugh lines. But her face was serious, stoic.
“I let my anger inspire me. Being angry pushed me to want to change,” she said.
Everything that I had thought about anger was turned upside down. And this was the best thing that could have happened to me.
The problem was not that I was angry. The real problem was that I was letting my anger control me, making me believe that feeling anger was a terrible thing. Instead, I should have been controlling my anger, so that I could transform it into a course of action.
I became a different woman when I came back to Canada. My priorities had shifted from being disgusted by recent events in American Politics to focusing on how I could transform that rage into something positive. For me, that has always been about using my voice to raise awareness about the issues I care about. As a journalist, I can control my narratives in the same way I now control my rage. I feel my absolute strongest when I am able to say, “I was angry first. Now, I am determined.”
Anger is powerful in ways I didn’t understand growing up. Anger brings a searing clarity. Moving through that rage eventually helps you to find peace. I wouldn’t have been able to come to this conclusion if it weren’t for the Women’s March. I now believe that angry women can and will change the world. I will never see being angry as a flaw ever again.
Written by: Alanna Fairey
Photography by: Alanna Fairey