It seems like it’s far too easy for folks to write off sisters with strong views as “Angry Black women”. I’ve found myself described as an ABW more times than I can count and it makes me, well, angry.
Granted, I am a writer. So I have more people judging me and my views than most folks do. I signed up for that knowing what I was getting into and I’m tough enough to handle it. I also realize that someone who’s only read my writings about gender or race doesn’t know how much I laugh, how silly I am with my friends. They don’t know that I’m an active dater who’s been told she’s pleasant and fun to be around. If the entire picture they see is serious, then I suppose it’s hard for them to imagine that there’s a real-life happy woman writing these things.
But it’s not just the sisters who are public with their views getting stamped with the scarlet “ABW”. I’ve seen it happen more than a few times off the Web. A group of folks are at a dinner party or a bar, discussing something provocative. The outspoken, passionate woman is easily cast as angry or, my other least-favorite title, bitter. Being known for being passionate can even be a deterrent for potential suitors (BTW-let the irony in that statement marinate). I’ve been told by a number of women they agree with many of the opinions I say in my writing, but they wouldn’t say these things publicly themselves because they don’t want the ABW title that comes with it.
The stereotype of the angry Black woman says a lot about how far we still have to go when it comes to how gender is viewed in this country. A man with a big voice is free to speak without so much worry over how he may be negatively judged for his feelings. A woman’s passion should not be mistaken for bitterness and misery. I personally can debate over the reasons gender beefs between the sexes for hours and then go spend the rest of my day with a man with no problems whatsoever. Vocal opinions do not negate someone’s ability to be satisfied or pleased with their life. You can be mad about racism, but happy about your friends. You can hate sexism and love men. You can be righteously indignant about the bad things going on in the world and still have a happy and rich life.
You can have a slew of strong opinions about politics, culture, relationships or anything else without being a bitter, angry woman. And while I am not negating the existence of women (and men!) who are out there with the 24-7 mean mug and hostile disposition, it bears mentioning that most outspoken sisters aren’t miserable! We cry, but we laugh. We fight and we love. I hope that I will see in my lifetime a different view of the opinionated sister; perhaps we can come to appreciate her right to think, feel and speak, even if we disagree, without attacking her for having the gall to do so freely.