I still remember my mum arriving home from the 1975 Convention for Women in Hamilton: Mum was so fired up, so exhilarated, so angry.
For a thrilling moment it looked like Mum might join the sisterhood. And then she went back to cooking mushy vegetables because that was how Dad liked them. On the outside she was an obedient doctor's wife. Inside, I believe she seethed.
Mum read feminist literature (Broadsheet!) but she didn't have many real life role models or mentors to support her in the brutal, redneck, rugby-worshipping, culture of provincial New Zealand in the 1970s. So she stuffed her anger and crocheted.
As I've written before, aged in her 60s mum went to law school, so she was hardly a shrinking violet, but it was hard to not notice her rebellion was always unfailingly polite. I'd be keen to explore how to take back my power, if that's okay with you, and not too much of an inconvenience, and of course I'll still cook dinner, sorry, sorry, sorry.
When I have been hurt or disrespected by men I have tended to turn the justifiable anger at my treatment in on myself, as modelled by my mother. Sometimes, I have even joined forces with the men (identification with the aggressor). I don't blame you for being angry with me. I know, I'm the worst.
I don't do that anymore, but I still struggle to find a way to express legitimate anger that feels safe and congruent with who I truly am, not at odds with inner goodness. My pattern has been to be ingratiating until I can't stand it anymore, and then explode.
Our culture pathologises and demonises women's rage – women's anger is synonymous with madness. So on those occasions I become the bad or mad person and feel shame and guilt for my lack of self control.
Blowing up, ranting and throwing things is not ideal, but I'm not sure being endlessly polite – sorry, sorry, are the vegetables mushy enough? – is much of an option either. What else is there?
With #metoo, #timesup and the appointment of Brett Kavanagh to a lifetime position on the US Supreme Court, it feels like we are living in a transformative moment for women's anger.
The rage women are feeling is both individual and collective at the same time.
Epigenetics teaches us that trauma gets passed down from generation to generation in the tissues of our bodies. We feel our own trauma, but also the trauma of our foremothers.
"Although we may never have met these women our cells carry their stories," as Professor Alexandra Solomon puts it.
I certainly didn't know what to do with the ferociousness of my feelings as a younger person. I tended to just listen to loud gothic music, drink neat vodka and hate myself. I hope for our daughters - and our sons - there are some healthier outlets to express their fury this time round. I'd like to offer a few suggestions.
ONE: Honour anger.
Anger is frowned on but is actually one of the most hopeful and forward thinking of all our emotions. It drives transformation and keeps us invested in the world, it is a spark of power. As a rational response to violation, threat and unfairness, it protects us. As feminist writer Soraya Chemaly says, anger bridges the divide between what is and what ought to be. Anger can alert us to our deepest values and remind us we're alive.
TWO: Learn how to be angry.
We are shown how to tie our shoelaces and play sport but who teaches us how to be angry? For girls, if anything, we are instructed to ignore and hide it. Just notice how when men get angry their power grows, when women do it shrinks. But we can learn to speak with authority and strong words and never back down without being shouty. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony demonstrated standing up for yourself without bitterness.
THREE: Breathe through it.
Anger is embodied. The more that we can notice how and where we feel anger in our bodies and realise it arises and then passes, the more chance we have to decide how to express it. In the midst of powerful emotions practicing being able to return to our breath can be very helpful.
FOUR: If you must sublimate your anger, do it through creativity.
Channel your anger into your creative work, your collage, your interpretive dance, your animations about anthropomorphic cats, or whatever. I don't know how I would have survived without my journals.
FIVE: Hold space.
Holding space is being supportive and alongside another person in whatever they are experiencing without judging them, making them feel inadequate or trying to fix them. It can be very powerful if men can manage to be a steady, quiet, humble presence for the women they love when women are angry. This is not easy.
Alexandra Solomon, who has been a couples therapist for 20 years, acknowledges how deeply stirred men are in the presence of their female partner's strong emotions.
"Our patriarchal system has given you the message that your worth is based on your ability to "fix" the suffering of those who matter to you. So your knee-jerk reaction may be to meet her rage with an effort to soothe her. I am challenging you to resist that urge and just hold space."
Oh, and perhaps cook your own vegetables.