I’m so fucking angry. Literally all the time. About everything.
But I've been brainwashed by society to ignore all this anger and to meditate and journal my feelings away. When the only guy in the classroom full of women gets the most praise from the professor, when I think about how few women of color have leadership positions in the design industry, and every time I get a New York Times notification that another fundamental right has been taken away from me — I am livid. This is feminist rage and it’s a powerful tool that has been ignored for far too long.
Women and femme-presenting people cannot express rage or they are written off as overly emotional. Rage is never taken seriously when it’s not coming from a man, but it's a completely valid reaction to the oppression we face every day. Being a marginalized person at Pratt makes it hard to not be angry most of the time. Pratt’s COMD student population is overwhelmingly female and femme-presenting but our industry is dominated by men.
It’s incredibly empowering to be in a classroom where the majority of people aren’t male. So it’s extremely crushing when the professor, who is usually a white man, gives the one male student in the classroom the most praise. Even if we spend hours and try our hardest, there is no breaking the testosterone-infused bond between the men in the classroom. This creates a studio culture where it’s acceptable for men to produce lower-quality work yet receive equal or even more praise than everyone else.
At Pratt, there’s only one female professor of color teaching graphic design intensive next semester. I cannot keep learning design from white men who put a male, eurocentric lens on my work. If we want to see any change in this industry, Pratt cannot keep hiring only white male professors across all the majors. White men dictate everything we do: they control our rights, the clothes we wear, our safety–– everything. Feminist rage is the only response to this lack of control. It’s a call to action.
Feminist rage is what motivates everything I do. Every written piece comes from a place of rage. It’s this heavy feeling in my chest that fuels my work and creative practice. Rage within a feminist scope isn’t working to elicit fear, rather, it’s a passion for change that encourages me to ignore the status quo and shift the way we think about the patriarchy’s expectations for women. This anger that I have is my biggest motivator and microaggressions, slurs and politics are all fuel to my fire.
Feminist rage has taught me to be an instigator and question everything: why does this make me angry and what am I going to do about it? This is why artists and designers are so important and why we need to elevate oppressed groups. Our insight and perspective are the key to making a more equitable community. Knowing you don’t have a professor’s full respect and attention because of your gender or race is unacceptable. The box that the patriarchy pushes me into is extremely claustrophobic and feminist rage is what is bursting me out.
This rage is power; don’t let it go. Next time you're angry, use that energy to catalyze change.
Art by Avery Slezak