I am woman, hear me roar

Róisín Cullen

Serena Williams was criticised for her outburst at the U.S Open final.

Throughout history, society has frowned upon the angry woman. Women have always been encouraged to keep a stiff upper lip in a Bree Van de Kamp fashion, take the higher moral ground and make polite small talk with people they despise.

When boys fight in the playground, a “boys will be boys” reaction is encouraged. When girls fight in the playground, their basic manners are questioned. They are quickly informed that this is not the way young ladies are expected to behave.

Serena Williams’ recent outburst during a competitive tennis match spurred a mix of reactions. Racist cartoons were published illustrating the typical “angry black woman”. Many journalists condemned the actions of the talented athlete.

Meanwhile, the Emerald Isle idolises the UFC god that is Conor McGregor, the man that has sworn to take down Jameson whiskey single-handedly with his intimidation tactics and revealing Instagram posts. Conor McGregor throws a chair through a bus window and his following increases. Serena Williams smashes her racquet and is criticised both as a mother and a woman.

Throughout history, “angry” women have been criticised by society. So called violent protests by Emmeline Pankhurst and her counterparts were thought to have stunted the women’s suffrage movement. Rosa Parks, now referred to as the “first lady of civil rights”, at the time was shunned by males and females alike when she refused to be treated as a second class citizen. Female poets and writers alike have used their work to express feelings that society has forced them to oppress. Anger has fuelled poems, plays and powerful political campaigns. It is a human emotion that should be celebrated regardless of the person’s gender.

In an age where mental health awareness is encouraged, surely everyone regardless of their gender should be encouraged to not suppress their feelings and put on a brave face for the world. In the workplace, women are often expected to be the voice of reason, the reliable secretary, the calm colleague, the patient teacher. Mothers are expected to always have a cool head, to be the referee for family feuds, the person that instils a sense of calm in a time of crisis. The typical Irish dad however is, of course, allowed to fly off the handle and storm off to the pub.

Times have of course changed, and women are now more respected than ever in society, in the workplace and in the home. However, the shocking reaction to a 36-year-old professional tennis player breaking her racquet shows that we have failed as a society. We should embrace these very human reactions. We should tell young girls that nobody is perfect and it’s okay not to be okay. We should get rid of the stiff upper lip and the meaningless small talk. Her anger signifies her passion and her motivation. Her faults make her unique. While some may prefer to watch an emotionless robot win Grand Slam titles, I would prefer to watch a real woman that has had to fight her way to the top. I would prefer to watch a mother that has both good and bad days. I would prefer to watch a realistic role model.

Róisín Cullen

Image Credit: Euro News