At the Big Green, I was talking with friends about the emotional impact of books like Possessing the Secret of Joy and My Forbidden Face. Do they make you cry?

I didn’t cry, and I couldn’t have said why not – I am not heartless! – until a friend suggested that I am perhaps “more in touch with my anger” than other people. That is a great way of putting it, and I think it probably sums me up beautifully at this stage in my life.

I am angry.

I am angry at things that have happened to me personally. Nothing too bad, nothing I can’t handle, nothing like the suffering described in the two books mentioned above… and now I am in a much happier place. But I have been through a journey in my life that was both painful and completely unnecessary, except for the compulsion I felt to tread the road laid out for me.

I am angry that this road was laid out for me and that it stopped me from making my own way. I am angry that I spent so long blaming myself for not being able to make that road comfortable. I am angry that it took me so long to realise that it was the road that was in the wrong, and not the person trying to travel along it.

Now, before this road metaphor gets out of hand, I’m going to stop talking about myself and start talking about how it makes me feel when I come across the oppression of other women. Angry.

When men who steal their wives’ money are reported to the police and they consistently refuse to prosecute because it’s “a matrimonial dispute”, I get angry. When a woman in another country is denied status and treated like a slave because of her gender, I get angry. When women in this country are told that it is their responsibility to avoid getting raped, I get angry. The list goes on.

My anger is not the destructive force it might be. In fact, I see it as a positive thing for me. It is a way of turning pain outwards, directing it away from my own soul. Because there was only so much I could take before I had to realise that it’s not my fault. And then to realise: it’s not her fault, it’s not our fault. There are forces at work that no indiviudal, still less any individual woman, can direct. And, sometimes, only anger can keep the despair at bay.

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