Title: Women of a Certain Rage
Editor: Liz Byrski
Genre: Essay collection
Publisher: Fremantle Press
Published: February 2021
I can vividly remember the last time I was angry. Like really, really angry. It was the kind of rage that is so intense, that comes from such a deep place of hurt, that I was completely calm. No yelling, no tears, just a composed yet vicious spray of words. As a child I would scream, cry, and throw things in a way that was considered not very ladylike. I was always told to compose myself and act like a lady. I had no idea other women had experienced similar things until I delved into this latest essay collection from Fremantle Press, Women of A Certain Rage.
This timely collection of essays features musings on anger and everything associated with it, from the perspectives of a varied selection of Australian women. Authors, activists, politicians, teachers, and creatives, among others, have contributed to this outstanding commentary on rage and gender.
Women have been taught from a young age that expressing anger is ‘unbecoming’ and makes them seem ‘hysterical’. Meanwhile, boys in the playground can actively show rage and there are rarely repercussions. This translates into more gendered behaviour later in life, where there is a knee-jerk reaction to women showing anger in professional life and beyond. What I really enjoyed about this collection is that it shows the many facets of this translation, and how it can affect all walks of life.
The diversity of contributors is greatly appreciated; I felt like I learnt something new with a lot of the essays in this collection. Anne Aly describes witnessing the treatment of women from the same background as her in The Girl Who Never Smiled. Carly Findlay, in a series of letters to children living with the same genetic skin condition, ichthyosis, touches on the idea of vicarious trauma and social media. Claire G. Coleman writes about her relationship with race and fury, and how that correlates with colonisation in Australia. So many amazing women, all with one common theme: we are angry.
I find it difficult to critique/review anthologies as there are so many contributors with different writing styles, but Liz Byrski has done an amazing job of editing and collating a well-rounded series of essays. Standout essays, aside from those aforementioned, include Carrie Cox’s Stuck in the Middle and Goldie Goldbloom’s To the Max.
I feel as though this collection will resonate with so many readers and is an incredibly important book at this time in our society. Women are beginning to speak up in larger numbers on more public platforms than ever before, following each other’s examples. It is empowering to read a book and feel seen and understood. This is a collection that I feel will never age and should be a must-read for the next generation of women.