On Anger and Injustice

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An underage girl passes out at a party, and members of the high school football team rape her. Pictures are taken and shared around the internet via social media. The girl finds out about her rape the next day from these photos. The attorney for the defense calls social media “a gift” because the girl was already in the habit of exposing herself and thus had no reason to object to  non-consensual photos of her being taken and distributed. And people wonder that I’m angry.

A woman comes to terms with the idea that she has been raped, that her rapist called it rape, and that this rape has ruined her approach to sexuality for a good chunk of her life. When she tells her story, she is told that it wasn’t really rape, that she should take some responsibility for what happened, that it’s useless to drag his name through the mud – despite her not using it or any identifying features.

And people wonder that I’m angry.

An 11 year old girl is raped by 18 men, and a town excuses it by saying that “she dressed older than her age” and “brought it on herself.”

And people wonder that I’m angry.

I find myself, day after day, wondering why I seem to be alone in my anger about these things, why so much of the world seems to find my anger more offensive than those events at which I am angry.

Christian culture doesn’t do a good job of handling anger. Such emotion scares us and make us uncomfortable, and if there’s one thing American Christians don’t want to be, it’s uncomfortable. Discomfiture and angry words are unwelcome, upsetting, and somehow a moral wrong. Often, the offense of being angry is weighed as more important than the cause of the anger itself.

And I see this happen most often in cases of sexual assault and rape. The survivor is told that they must give up their anger, that being angry at how a sexual assault case is handled is refusing to let God work, that anger is somehow a deficiency in personality or grace.

But I’m beginning to wonder if the person who is deficient is not the person who is angry, but the person who seeks to erase the anger.

How is it that, when people can hear of sexual assaults, of people who were violated and made to feel less than, that they can brush it off without anger or even explain it away?

I find myself asking, more and more, “Why aren’t you angry?”

When I am told that I need to “tone it down” and “not be so angry,” I find myself asking, “No, why aren’t YOU angry about this?”

Anger is good. Anger is important. Anger is valid. Feeling angry in the face of injustice is how things should be, not a deviance from the norm. And yet, somehow, those of us who get outraged are “bitter angry feminists” and “clouded by emotion.”

But again I ask, “Why aren’t you angry?”

The only conclusion I have is the old adage, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

So here is my request: start paying attention. Read the stories of survivors, listen to the ones that are surely in your midst. Find out why they are angry.

And then, get angry. Be angry with us. Allow yourself to understand that anger is helpful, it is clarifying. That sometimes, anger is the only valid response.

So tell me, in the face of all this injustice, why aren't you angry?