25 Famous Women on Anger

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Technically, anger is the third stage of grief, but when you’re facing down a world in which Donald Trump could be the president of the United States, it might be your first reaction. Women are often told that anger is “unbecoming” or “unfeminine,” but here are 25 famous women who would like to take that perception and stomp it to bits. Below, channel your Trump rage with quotes from Jessica Williams, Amy Poehler, Gloria Steinem, and more.

Amy Poehler

“Telling me to relax or smile when I’m angry is like bringing a birthday cake into an ape sanctuary. You’re just asking to get your genitals bitten off.” — Yes Please, October 2014

Margaret Cho

“Anger has been a tremendously healing tool for me. Obviously, there’s a lot of language around not being angry and accepting and forgiving your abuser, but — I don’t want to forgive. [Laughs.] I don’t care! I’m not taking the high road. I’m not here to be the better person. That, to me, is another way to excuse rape. Why are you trying to forgive your abuser? You need to forgive yourself … My rage is really keeping me alive, my rage is my art. We’re always told by therapists and clergy and mentors that you need to forgive and heal, and I’m not there, and I don’t plan on going there.” — Washington Post, November 2015

Gillian Flynn

“You see men blow up all the time, and it’s not a big deal. But if a woman does it, either she’s crazy or she’s shrill. It’s like, you know what? She may just be angry.” — Glamour, September 2014

Naomi Campbell

“I’m not angry. And I don’t like the thing of the ‘angry black woman’ either. That’s not what this is about. We feel passionate. Feeling passionate about something doesn’t mean you have to be angry.” — Channel 4 News, September 2013

Zadie Smith

“I felt like a hand was at my throat when I first started writing. That if I was going to be a proper writer, I’d better be as polite as possible and as calm as possible and as un-angry as possible — and recently I’ve been thinking, you know, fuck that, basically.” — The Atlantic, October 2005

Sofia Vergara

“Oh yes, things get me mad. But the thing is, I get mad, and then I turn around and I forget. When I have a new person working with me or a new boyfriend, they have to adjust in the beginning. I can scream and I get really angry, and then I’ll turn around and go to the bathroom, wash my hands and then come out and go, ‘OK, we’re going to lunch?’ I get mad in the moment, but I don’t hold a grudge.” — The Hollywood Reporter, August 2012

Joan Rivers

“The minute you’re not angry about things, the minute you’re not upset about things, what are you talking about? … I’m furious about everything. Good things don’t always happen to good people. And I’m very angry about it. But if I didn’t have the anger about it, I wouldn’t be a comedian. Anger fuels the comedy.” — Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, 2010

Stevie Nicks

“If I’ve learned nothing else it’s that time passes and anger doesn’t do you much good. Something that seems really bad today is going to be better next week. And things you think are never going to go away soften with time. When things happen that upset me I try to do something that makes me happy … Right now I put on Lady Gaga’s ‘Applause’ and dance around the house.” — New York Times, February 2014

Roxane Gay

“When women are angry, we are wanting too much or complaining or wasting time or focusing on the wrong things or we are petty or shrill or strident or unbalanced or crazy or overly emotional. Race complicates anger. Black women are often characterized as angry simply for existing, as if anger is woven into our breath and our skin … Feminists are regularly characterized as angry. At many events where I am speaking about feminism, young women ask how they can comport themselves so they aren’t perceived as angry while they practice their feminism. They ask this question as if anger is an unreasonable emotion when considering the inequalities, challenges, violence and oppression women the world over face. I want to tell these young women to embrace their anger, sharpen themselves against it.” — New York Times, June 2016

Arundhati Roy

“I refuse to accept that there’s a sort of duality between fact and emotion. If we were to lose the ability to be emotional, if we were to lose the ability to be angry, to be outraged, we would be robots. And I refuse that. And partly, the reason that they say the arguments are emotional is because they don’t want to face the facts.” — PBS The Damned, September 2003

Serena Williams

“I’ve cracked a number of rackets throughout my career. I’ve gotten fined a number of times for cracking rackets. In fact, I look at it like I didn’t crack one at the French Open or Rome, so I was doing really good. I don’t want to go too long without cracking a racket. You know, I’m on track. I try to crack a certain amount a year. I’m a little behind this year, so it was good.” — Associated Press, July 2016

Nora Ephron

“I’m already nervous about using the word ‘anger,’ because I’m not a particularly angry person, but I do think that underneath pieces like ‘I Feel Bad About My Neck’ is some kind of actual anger about the aging process. Which then turns into a bunch of jokes. But I don’t think all humor comes out of unhappiness or pain. There are simply too many funny people who had a completely, you know, normal childhood.” — Salon, November 2010

Grace Jones

“If people think I’m angry, I don’t want to burst anybody’s bubble. I like sometimes for people to be afraid of me. But it’s not really anger; it’s discipline.” — The Evening Standard, May 2010

Indra Nooyi

“When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’” — Fortune, 2008

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“We spend too much time teaching girls to worry about what boys think of them. But the reverse is not the case. We don’t teach boys to care about being likable. We spend too much time telling girls that they cannot be angry or aggressive or tough, which is bad enough, but then we turn around and either praise or excuse men for the same reasons. All over the world, there are so many magazine articles and books telling women what to do, how to be and not to be, in order to attract or please men. There are far fewer guides for men about pleasing women.” — We Should All Be Feminists, July 2014

Fiona Apple

“My whole life, people have been saying, ‘Why are you so angry?’ and I didn’t know what the hell they were talking about. After I saw myself at the MTV Awards, I realized, Wow, I do kind of come off a bit intense. [Laughs.] I wasn’t upset at MTV at all — I didn’t mean to come off that way. But I think it’s good if I appeared a bit angry. People are too complacent.” — Interview, March 2012


Jessica Williams

“There’s this idea of the ‘Angry Black Woman,’ and I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, because I often feel like I’m put in that category. A lot of women of color are put in that category, when I think our anger is justified. I actually think that female anger isn’t that different from male anger. Boxing and football are, like, national fucking pastimes. And yet, when a woman expresses that she is unhappy with the way in which our society exists, that’s a big fucking problem. That’s crazy to me.” — Bust, February/March print issue

Toni Morrison

Do you ever write out of anger or any other emotion?

“No. Anger is a very intense but tiny emotion, you know. It doesn’t last. It doesn’t produce anything. It’s not creative … at least not for me. I mean these books take at least three years! … I don’t trust that stuff anyway. I don’t like those little quick emotions, like, I’m lonely, ohhh, God … I don’t like those emotions as fuel. I mean, I have them, but … if it’s not your brain thinking cold, cold thoughts, which you can dress in any kind of mood, then it’s nothing. It has to be a cold, cold thought. I mean cold, or cool at least. Your brain. That’s all there is.” — The Paris Review

Elizabeth Gilbert

“Anger is OK, actually. Anger, we can work with. At least anger (unlike boredom and fear) has fire in it. At least anger is alive with a kind of passion. The ancients said that there are three different kinds of prayer: You can pray in gratitude, you can pray in beseechment or you can pray in anger. You are allowed, in other words, to vent your rage to God. You are allowed to say, ‘I am furious at you for what you have allowed to occur!’ Do it. Get it off your chest. (God can take it.) But make a commitment that you will not remain in that state of rage for your entire life, or else it will burn a hole right through your soul.” — The Huffington Post, October 2014

Aparna Nancherla

“I do think I am resentful sometimes that everyone thinks I’m this nice, sweet cherub baby tomato. I am frequently enraged by people but I just am not great at expressing my anger, so most of it turns into a lot of stern walking around the city blasting rap into my brain. I am getting a little bit better at expressing it, but sometimes I’ll feel as though I figuratively threw a vase at someone and they’ll be like ‘Oh, were you upset? I wasn’t exactly sure.’ So it’s a process.” — Vice, October 2015

Maya Angelou

“You should be angry. You must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.” — Iconoclasts, 2006

Shonda Rhimes

On being called an “angry black woman” in a New York Times column

“Wait. I’m ‘angry’ AND a ROMANCE WRITER?!! I’m going to need to put down the internet and go dance this one out. Because ish is getting real.” — her Twitter, September 2014

Gloria Steinem

“I’m on campuses a lot, very different kinds of schools. I still get asked, ‘How can I [the student] combine motherhood and career?’ and I tell them, ‘Until men are asking that same question, you can’t.’ I say, ‘By now we all know that women can do what men can do, but it’s not the other way around. No, you can’t do it all — so get mad.’ Why are we the only modern country without proper child care or health care? They aren’t angry enough.” — Stanford Report, January 2012

Marcia Clark, lead prosecutor for the O.J. Simpson case

“Back then I was portrayed by the press as this cartoon storming into court with steam coming out of my ears. If I raised my voice, they would say I was being shrill and hysterical. It’s a courtroom. It’s war. What was I supposed to do, whisper and curtsy?” — Los Angeles Times, July 2016

Fran Lebowitz

“I’m pretty angry, but the problem with me is that I’m always in an extreme state of rage. I have all this other rage in me from 1950.” — The Huffington Post, October 2012