Women’s anger is having a moment in publishing. Make room on your shelf next to Eloquent Rage, Good and Mad and Rage Becomes Her for another book on the subject: Burn It Down: Women Writing About Anger, an anthology edited by Lilly Dancyger.
Twenty-two women writers contributed essays about their anger. That number seemed excessive at first; how original could each piece really be? But there is so much to be angry about. Burn It Down features essays about sexual abuse, chronic pain, transphobia, disability, religious persecution, gun violence, racism, sizeism, rape. The list goes on.
Leslie Jamison’s standout essay, “Lungs Full of Burning,” addresses her inclination toward sadness in a society that’s inhospitable to women’s anger. “In what I had always understood as self-awareness—I don’t get angry. I get sad—I came to see my own complicity in the same logic that has trained women to bury their anger or perform its absence,” she writes.
Another memorable piece is “Homegrown Anger” by Lisa Factora-Borchers. Being a woman of color in a Trump-voting area of Ohio led her to “befriend” anger, she writes, and to rely on it as a source of strength.
Like Jamison, I am a woman inclined toward sadness over anger—or perhaps I should say, was inclined. The essays in Burn It Down illustrate how patriarchal society benefits from women stifling their anger, even if suppression feels like our best chance at survival. To that end, the angry authors in this anthology are inspirational. In fact, why are all of us women not furious all the time? Burn It Down asserts that there is no panacea for women’s anger, save for widespread political and social change.
Whether you are coming into your own anger, or anger is your daily fuel, there is something for everyone to draw from in this anthology. It is time to light a match.