Author Rebecca Traister delivers speech on anger as a communicative tool for those who are marginalized

Traister spoke openly about her experience as an openly feminist journalist throughout her career and in the Trump era.


Traister delivered remarks on the power of women’s anger and the changing landscape of politics as a result. Photo by Maya Lora.

Donald LeCompte

Rebecca Traister spoke to the power of women’s anger and the current state of politics during a talk in Northen Auditorium on Feb. 11.

Traister, who is a writer-at-large for New York Magazine, delivered a speech focused on topics that are discussed in her new book, “Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger.”

Attendees, which included students, faculty and staff, were able to purchase Traister’s “Good and Mad” after the lecture. Photo by Maya Lora.

“I am a feminist journalist, and I have been one for 15 years,” Traister said.

She used her background of covering women in politics, media and entertainment to provide personal insights about the power of women’s anger.

Much of Traister’s work has involved writing about gender equity, racism and economic inequality. These are topics she has long been passionate about, but they are ones that have often left her feeling angry.

“You have to be angry in order to do the kind of work that I do,” she said.

This anger intensified following the 2016 election of President Donald Trump, who she referred to as an “intolerant, racist, toddler.”

At her husband’s suggestion, Traister began to write about how she felt, and this led her to a “massive personal transformation.”

“[I started] looking straight at not only my own anger but the anger that informed the history I’ve come to write about and the contemporary politics that I cover as a journalist,” she said.

Traister talked about how historical norms convey that young, angry women “represent a kind of destructive and dangerous chaos.”

Conversely, she said that men who appear angry are often “characterized as being comprehensible, understood as rational, [and] often coated as admirable or strong.”

Traister hopes that this perception can be changed.

Trump’s election, Traister argued, has provoked a new rage of activism from people who had not previously been politically engaged. Such activism was prominent in the election of the 116th United States Congress, which includes the most female members of any Congress in history.

Traister also clarified that change does not just come from people who run for political office.

“[Change] also comes from those who are engaged in their campaigns, volunteering, paying attention, educating themselves, and becoming advocates for the first time in their lives,” she said.

While covering a 2017 special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, she came across many suburban white women who were newly engaged in progressive politics.

“Those were the women that I was meeting,” she said of her time spent in the historically conservative district. “These women were talking about personal transformation: things changing in them that can never go back.”

This experience showed Traister that anger can be a communicative tool for those who are marginalized.

“It’s a way for women to find each other and realize their troubles and their frustrations are shared,” she said.

Ruth Abraham, ‘22, left the speech with a “new perspective on anger.”

“She provided a perspective in that she put anger as a device that we could use to make statements on politics, entertainment, on every type of media,” Abraham said. “She called me to action to re-look at my history to see what’s being omitted and to see what I’ve missed.”