Burn It Down Panel

Books are Magic Wednesday October 09 | 7:30PM - 8:30PM

225 Smith Street
Brooklyn NY 11231

Women’s anger—so long mocked, dismissed, or considered taboo—appears at first glance to be having a moment, from the 2017 relaunch of Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement, through the Women’s Marches around the world, to political analysis in the run-up to the 2020 election. Yet, as Lilly Dancyger writes in the introduction to Burn It Down: Women Writing about Anger (Seal Press, October 8, 2019), even “when asked specifically to write about their anger, many of the women in this book described it at first from a safe distance, explaining coolly and calmly what they were angry about.” We’ve been taught that angry women will be perceived as ugly, crazy, undeserving of love, and maybe even dangerous. As Dancyger puts it, “Millennia of conditioning is hard to unlearn.”

Even now, women’s anger is often made palatable by describing it as a tool for social change. But as Dancyger writes, “our anger doesn’t have to be useful to deserve a voice. Just as women who are so often reduced to sexual objects or baby-makers deserve to be considered as whole individuals on their own terms and for their own sakes, I wanted to give their anger space to exist solely for itself, without being packaged and used for someone else’s gain. That’s what this anthology is for.”

And so we meet Melissa Febos’ middle school camp counselor, screaming unabashedly at a male intruder on the female nude beach (it was a pretty unconventional summer camp). Meredith Talusan reflects on how differently her interaction with a male classmate would have unfolded if it had happened prior to her gender transition, or further down the road: “Because I was new to womanhood, I didn’t know I was supposed to let his blatant insult to my intelligence go.” Erin Khar describes anger subverted into guilt—but only for a time.

Lilly Dancyger is the memoir editor at Narratively, a contributing editor and writing instructor at Catapult, and assistant books editor at Barrelhouse. Her work has appeared in The Rumpus, Washington Post, The Guardian, New York Magazine, and many other outlets.

Melissa Febos is the author of the acclaimed memoir, Whip Smart (St. Martin’s Press 2010), and the essay collection, Abandon Me (Bloomsbury 2017), which was a LAMBDA Literary Award finalist and an Indie Next Pick. Girlhood is forthcoming from Bloomsbury in 2021.

Erin Khar’s debut memoir about her decade-long battle with opiate addiction is forthcoming from Park Row Books in winter 2020. Erin is also the managing editor at Ravishly, where she writes the weekly advice column, Ask Erin.

Meredith Talusan’s debut memoir, Fairest, is forthcoming from Viking/Penguin Random House.

This event is free!



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