The Bellwether of Oppression: Anger, Critique, and Resistance

Hypatia (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Feminists have long argued that emotions have a rightful place in politics. Anger, specifically, is often said to play a crucial role in alerting people to oppression and motivating resistance. The task of this paper is to elaborate these claims and to outline a conception of the political value of anger. In doing so, I argue against the view that anger is valuable if and because it expresses a sound moral judgment. Instead, we should see rage, in the first place, as simply a response to having one’s practical aims in the world thwarted—there need be nothing moral or righteous about this feeling for it to have political potential. Second, unlike those who highlight anger’s connection with love or claims for equal dignity, I emphasise its tendency towards aggression. With this non-moralized conception of anger in hand, we can see how rage reveals practical problems in a way that can spur on a dialectical process of political articulation and organized action. The resulting standpoint from which one can articulate and resist one’s oppression based on one’s rage is not inherent in the experience of anger—rather it needs to be seen as a political achievement in itself.

Author's Profile

Jasper Friedrich
University of Oxford

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