Date of Award

1998

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Social Sciences Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Lekkie Hopkins

Abstract

Feminist researchers investigate women’s lives. This project is looking at a tiny thread embedded in a small section in the huge fabric of women's lives. The section is women’s capacity for violence, and the thread within it is women’s rage. This is a qualitative study of contemporary women experiencing and expressing their anger and rage. Discussions of violence within feminist literature have been largely restricted to accounts of male violence against women and children, and may have inadvertently endorsed the mainstream construction of femininity, which perceives rage in women to be an inappropriate emotion. In this project, I argue that contemporary women do indeed experience anger and rage, and that these emotions need to be honoured and validated. The questions I seek to answer are about contemporary women’s expression of these emotions. Do they express rage often, or sometimes, or never, or just keep it inside, relegating it to the shadow? Do they direct their rage towards others, or do they direct it towards themselves? Do they do both? Does rage vary over a lifetime? Is women’s rage linked to women’s oppression? How do contemporary women experience oppression? Do they have bodily symptoms associated with rage? Is there indeed a link between women· s rage and women’s violence? Is there frequently a link between women’s rage and violence against women? Is an outburst of rage spontaneous, or is it the culmination of a slow, smouldering process? Finally, are there ways of expressing rage creatively? Seeking answers to these questions, the study explores similarities and differences in the ways a small number of women in the community encounter their rage. The case stories of six women who participated in in-depth, semi-structured Interviews, together with a review of relevant literature, form the basis for this project. It is hoped it will raise awareness of women's angry and violent feelings and that we might call their dark side, and ultimately, contribute to an exploration of the much larger field of women's violence. This may in tum enable women to accept their own capacity for violent behaviour. In addition, this small sample illustrating that women with similar backgrounds do not necessarily share similar experiences of rage aims to contribute to current feminist theoretical debates about difference.

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