Book Review: Women of a Certain Rage

Book "Women of a Certain Rage" held in front of tangle of willow sticks

Anthology Introduced by Liz Byrski

Authors: Anne Aly, Nadine Browne, Nandi Chinna, Claire G. Coleman, Carrie Cox, Eva Cox, Sarah Drummond, Carly Findlay, Goldie Goldbloom, Rafeif Ismail, Margot Kingston, Jay Martin, Meg McKinley, Olivia Muscat, Mihaela Nicolescu, Renee Pittitt-Schipp, Fiona Stanley, Victoria Midwinter Pitt, Jane Underwood, Julienne van Loon

This anthology is a guide to understanding and embodying a plethora of rage. I have struggled to make peace with anger and the ways in which I have expressed it and endured its expression by others. But rage has become increasingly familiar to me.  

Whether you are certain of what rage feels like and  how it manifests in your life, anyone who has felt silenced, pushed to the margins, erased, will likely feel validation in reading this. The rage that is developed in response to aggression and violence, the rage that surreptitiously manifests into existence, the rage that fuels, are considered in this collection of reflections, meditations, and highly personal stories. There are beautiful descriptions of the weight, shape, and heaviness of rage as well as the power, effect, and endurance of it.   

The collection contains as many diverse perspectives on rage as there are authors suggesting potential meanings and effects. Sadly, I do not see anyone like me visibly represented in the line-up: of Asian origin. While this is a relatively minor drawback, it seems a missed opportunity given the considerable rise in anti-Asian sentiment and violence inflamed by irresponsible COVID narratives. I also cringe a little at how often Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are referred to as “our” or “Australian” given how often I’ve witnessed conversations about how this framing normalises colonialist violence and causes distress and anger. 

I was surprised by the way in which each piece wound into the core of me until I found myself putting the engrossing book down at the conclusion of each chapter. As much as I wanted to read on, each piece provoked feelings and thoughts and I wanted to sit with them. I found it an almost exhausting read in a valuable way. I could see how my rage and the rage of others were reflected and I needed to process that. In a time when violence, systemic marginalisations, and invisibilisation are thrust into the bodies and lives of women, especially First Nations, Black and people of colour in Australia, this anthology feels timely and expository. The concerns and inherent traumas of racism, xenophobia, ableism, classism, the global climate crisis are explored, amongst other themes. The variety in approaches and writing styles made it feel like an  exploratory journey with unexpected nooks and crannies. 

"We cannot negotiate with our oppressors without relinquishing part of our own existence."
Brass fountain pen on white background. Image by Art Lasovsky.
Rafeif Ismail

 I’m struck by how much I learned from reading this. There are some stories that are hard to fathom and digest, including instances of brutality and harm. But they each come together to form a cohesive body of work that reveals the way rage is understandable and, arguably while gross injustices persist, absolutely necessary. Ultimately, I found it a lamentation of how much we are expected to endure, a scrutiny of the injustices we might have benefited from, and a recipe for how rage might sustain us.

About the Book

Published: February 2021
ISBN: 9781760990060
Pages: 232
Publisher: Fremantle Press

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