As a woman, I’m expected to be a calm and rational human being. In fact, I am a calm, rational being. I pride myself on it. When, in the same scenario, I see my male friends and family members fly into a rage about the smallest of things, I always seem to just shrug my shoulders and move on. However, I’m not a pushover and I don’t get walked all over- I just don’t have anger management issues. Of course, this may be to do with my specific personality, my childhood, my influences and my lifestyle, but I’ve also always associated it with my gender. I’m a woman and while usually I love to buck the trend for what is stereotypically female, I have always liked the fact that I am a calm and rational woman.

This is not to say that all women are calm and all men are angry. But wait, is that not the stereotype? Come to think of it, are women even allowed to get angry? Would that not be frowned upon? I remember countless times as a young school girl when the boys, full of newly discovered testosterone, would be plucking out their feathers, showing off and finding it hilarious to irritate or bother the girls (who of course liked the attention) but on the occasions when it went badly and the girl would end up in tears or annoyed, would she not get asked the most patronising question of all time: “are you on your period?” It’s a question I’ve been asked as a fully formed adult – brain, qualifications and life experiences to boot. Yet I’ve been asked it. And I’ve seen it being used ‘humorously’ on countless television shows too. It’s patronising beyond words. It’s trying to belittle when women and girls feel upset or angry, trying to put it down to their hormones, rather than perhaps the annoying or upsetting trigger or the fact that maybe, just maybe, girls are allowed to get angry too without having to explain themselves.

Now I’ve seen plenty of women in foul, angry moods. But I’ve also heard the word ‘hysterical’ being used to describe sad, angry, or upset women far too often: another way that female anger is not reflected upon as a sign of the huge pressure and stress of being a twenty-first century woman, but is patronisingly dismissed. Unlike men, for whom being assertive is seen as sexy, women are taught to avoid confrontation, told to “calm down, dear”. Yes, I’m talking about David Cameron and his oh-so-patronising remark to Labour MP Angela Eagle back in 2011. I’ve rewatched the video this week, and noticed how before David and the Tories realise that that might not have been the wisest thing to say, George Osborne finds it very amusing whilst looking directly at the (presumably perfectly calm) Angela Eagle. Since we can’t see her in the video (nor hear her), I find it hard to imagine (above all the male yelling and jeering – that’s right it’s a very LOW din coming from the background) that she was anything but calm.

It’s true that girls are more emotional than boys – I would never try and argue otherwise. After all, I’ve cried hysterically more than once in my life. But, it’s also true that the pressure and stress on females are greater than ever. Women, quite rightly, want it all – career, family, children. Trying to achieve all that cannot be easy, and is something that I am not looking forward to. But I am relying on the men in my life to support me because as women want to aim higher, achieve more and be successful, we are going to need support rather than patronising. So let’s leave these old-fashioned backward remarks in the past, and let’s encourage girls to be feisty. Women should have a voice, whether it’s an angry one or not.

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