On the “angry” nature of my writing.

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I’ve never seen it. I mean, sure, I get angry, but I also get a lot of other things, and I don’t run around angry all the time. And quite often I will write something where the predominant motivation is love, for instance, and get told how angry I sound. I have also once read a person say that they could not get through Jim Sinclair’s “Don’t Mourn For Us” because of the tremendous rage towards parents that they felt in it — that is an article in which I can see very little but love. Not that love and anger can’t coexist, but I just don’t see the anger supposedly permeating Jim Sinclair’s work or my work and so forth.

Anyway, I found this interesting lyric the other day by Ani Difranco (who seems to write a lot of interesting lyrics but then sings them in a style I have trouble wanting to listen to, so I can’t really be classified as a fan of the music, but perhaps sometimes a fan of the lyrics). I can’t even remember how I stumbled across it. It goes like this:

I am not an angry girl
But it seems like I’ve got everyone fooled
Every time I say something
They find hard to hear
They chalk it up to my anger
And never to their own fear

I don’t know that it’s always fear that causes that reaction. I’ve often noticed that someone will read something that makes them angry. And then decide that the author of whatever they were reading, was angry. I also know that a lot of people view anything that explicitly contradicts something else as “argumentative” and therefore “angry”. And that a lot of people have a stereotype of activists as perpetually angry.

So fear isn’t the only thing that could cause people to see anger that isn’t there. But it’s one thing. And there does seem a trend in my life of being considered angry when I’m nowhere even close to anger. Of course a lot of people, particularly autistic people, see the actual emotional state that is going on at any given time too. But it’s amazing how many people read what I write and can’t come away from it with anything more than a vision of me as “angry” that seems to make them completely unaware of whatever it is that I’ve actually written and hostile to me as a person instead. (Of course there’s then the whole problem of people taking more from what they perceive as the emotional content of something, than from what was actually meant or said. But that’s a whole ‘nother topic.)

About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods. Crochet or otherwise create constantly and compulsively. Write poetry and paint when I can. Physically and cognitively disabled. Anything you hear in the media or gossip is likely to be oversimplified at best and wildly inaccurate at worst, the only way to get to know me is to actually know me. I'm not really part of any online faction or another, even ones that claim me as a member. The thing in the world most important to me is having love and compassion for other people, although I don't always measure up to my own standards there by a longshot. And individual specific actions and situations and contexts matter a lot more to me than broadly-spoken abstract words and ideas about a topic. My father died a couple years ago and that has changed my life a lot in ways that are still evolving, but I wear a lot of his clothes and hats every day since he died and have shown no sign of stopping soon.

4 responses »

  1. I know this is an old post I’m commenting on, but I stumbled on your blog today and have been working backwards. I was actually thinking how reserved and thoughtful you come off in your writing before I read this. People who consider your writing angry are short-sighted. In a more recent post I was struck by how carefully you deconstructed the services you receive. I thought something like “if that was me, I would be seething,” but you just described the need for reform clearly. That’s not anger, that’s conviction.

  2. Interesting. (I’ve just gotten to your comment today while I’m busy moving the posts from the old blog.)

    I do seethe, actually, in these situations. I mean, I do get angry. But it’s not like I walk around being angry all the time, it’s not like that’s my primary emotional state or anything. And then I write things while not angry and get called “angry” as if that’s a descriptor of my entire personality instead of one among many emotions, and not always the emotion that’s there when I’m being described that way.

  3. Pingback: Ballastexistenz » Blog Archive » The “right” to freedom from disagreement.

  4. Pingback: Ballastexistenz » Blog Archive » I’m the monster you met on the Internet.

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