Women and anger : sixty women's personal and social experiences of anger
To date there has been very little research regarding the relationship between
women's personal experience of expressing anger and societal perception of that
expression. Yet as Kippax et al (1988) note "the duality between the individual and
the social structure must be recognised and incorporated into any successful theory
of emotions" (p20). The relationship between these factors of the personal
(discourse about self being angry) and the social (discourse about how society
views women being angry) was scrutinised.
This was achieved by the participation of sixty-five Scottish women in a three
phase research project. The first phase involved nine focus groups, phase two
involved using a two tier (self and society) Q-sort and the third phase involved
qualitative interviews with the exemplars of six factors. These methods offered a
way of elucidating and articulating women's accounts of their anger experiences.
A thematic discourse analysis of the focus group material uncovered several
discourses notably 'relationships mediate women's experiences of anger' and
'society constructs women's anger as unfeminine'. Other discourses highlighted
were: 'control & aggression'; 'angry but guilty'; 'anger as a positive experience';
'gender similarities and differences' and 'crying when angry' .
These discourses were fed into a two tier Q-sort which produced 14 factors (8 of
which are qualitatively analysed) emphasising the paradoxes and complexities of
the different subject positions that the participants occupied. However, anger was
frequently constructed as a passion - an 'all or nothing' event. The majority of
parti~ipants constructed a society which opposed their right to express their anger.
Discourses taken up by the participants demonstrate that there are several
constructs that remain important for feminist psychologists to pursue, namely:
power relations; context; and stereotyping