"I hear there's a bunch of angry women in town."
this lovely sentiment was reportedly overheard on the street during Feminist Expo 2000, a global gathering over 7,000 strong that was held in Baltimore the first weekend of April. Other reactions to the event ran along the same lines: A reception bartender told the Washington Post that "My boss said they're just a bunch of man-haters." (Thankfully, she added, "But they seem real nice to me.")
Apparently the thought of a group of any number of women higher than, say, five translates into the idea that women must be out to bring down men. Not only a really egocentric notion—do groups of women have nothing better to do than plot the demise of individual males?—but one that feminists have been battling as long as there have been feminists.
The attitude toward women's anger—automatically viewed as irrational and/or a destructive force aimed at men—purposely discounts and obscures the fact that, indeed, there is cause for anger. The term "angry women" is so reductive that people who use it would likely be hard-pressed to tell you what these alleged women are so angry about. Expo attendees, as it happened, were angry about a number of things: the possibility of America electing a man who is proud of his status as one of the country's most anti-choice politicians, for one; the Taliban's brutally enforced gender apartheid, for another. About so-called honor killings, in which men murder women in their families with impunity for such misdeeds as talking to the wrong man or being raped. About the religious right. About wage inequality, racism, and pink-collar ghettos that make the sticky floor more relevant than the glass ceiling for most American women. But when people make flip references to "angry women," we're guessing they aren't thinking about these things. (But if you are, we'd like to offer a few resources for you—check out our new section, Where to Bitch, on page 95.)
For us, the weekend in Baltimore drove home the fact that the identity of a feminist, to the general public, hasn't changed nearly as much as we'd like to believe—the caricature of the wild-eyed man-marauder still lives on. But within the feminist community, our identities are changing all the time, becoming more and more multifaceted and wide-ranging. As long as people retain a two-dimensional picture of feminists as irrationally angry, we need to strenuously ensure that our goals, ideas, and experiences keep diversifying and growing—in public.
Forthwith, a collection of perspectives, passions, practices, perversions, preoccupations, and pet peeves that demonstrate just how polymorphous we feminists really are. —eds.