Women, anger, and the double standard


By Claire Wasserman

I created Ladies Get Paid because I was angry. 

I was angry that I was continually being objectified, I was angry that I was always burnt out, I was angry that I felt constant pressure to be perfect.

That anger festered inside me until I realized that I could channel it in a productive way. I could help other women.

Women are socialized to not express anger. When sexist things happen, we squash our feelings deep inside us, rationalizing that we’re overreacting or we’re being “hysterical.” Sometimes we even think it’s our fault.

As I travel the country, speaking to thousands of women, I tell them to embrace their anger and let it be the fire that fuels them to make positive change in their lives. 

But then I realized something. What I was encouraging them to do did not account for the experiences of women of color, who are under the immense pressure to stifle their anger so that they are not categorized (and thus penalized), as the “Angry Black woman.”

We saw this demonstrated by what happened to Serena Williams at the US Open. When the umpire accused her of cheating, she threw her racket down and yelled at him for “being a thief” and stealing a point from her. She was then fined $17,000 and ultimately lost the game. 

Tennis legend and trailblazer Bille Jean King, wrote in a Washington Post op-edthat the double standard happens far too often for Black women whether it’s in sports or in the office. In Serena’s case, “Ultimately, a woman was penalized for standing up for herself.”

Famous for his temper, John McEnroe admitted, “I’ve said far worse. She [Serena Williams] is right about the guys being held to a different standard, there’s no question.”

So what to do? 

1. Take a moment. When you’re angry, don’t brush it off. Sit with it, explore it, talk about it. If you begin to self-judge, note that. The acknowledgment of how we feel is the first step to knowing what our next steps should be. 

2. Don’t keep it inside. Find ways to articulate how you feel in a way that will get you what you want. As exhausting as it is, we still must navigate a system made by and for men, and so to communicate your frustration, you must translate it into language they understand so you can achieve your goals.

3. Think beyond your own experience. If you’re white, know that your understanding and expression of anger may not be universal. From the wage gap to who is being promoted, factors like race or disability impact how the women around you are treated in the workplace, so be mindful, and surround yourself with diverse voices.

Now go get paid.

x Claire 

Claire Wasserman is a career coach, dedicated to helping women thrive at work. 

Claire has collaborated with Nike, WeWork, and Squarespace and was chosen as one of Bumble’s 100 Most Inspiring New Yorkers. She is on the Well + Good Council, and is the producer and host of the podcast, Lady Talk.

Prior to Ladies Get Paid, Claire was the Director of Marketing a Working Not Working, a curated network of creative professionals. She was also the editor of Amaphiko, Red Bull’s platform for social entrepreneurs.

 Last year, Claire traveled across US hosting town halls for thousands of women to talk about money, work, and self-worth. She is currently writing a book about her experience.

Learn more about Claire at clairelovesyou.com and follow her on Instagram: @claireloves_you.

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