Feminine Rage – AP Lang Quest Essay

There wasn’t pulsing adrenaline like I was expecting; my steps were unsure as I walked up to the doorway of the rage room. Because upon approaching, I was surprised to find there was no door to close behind me, shielding me from the prying eyes of those outside. Rage is a vulnerable act, one I’ve been repeatedly denied, and in the face of these strangers beyond the open doorway, I shrunk. So I limboed in the liminal space between the world at large and this foreign room, waiting for someone or something to push or pull me in one direction or another. I wished to fall back upon the docility that I’ve been socialized to accept as my role in this world, feeling embarrassed by this idea that I could take ownership of my anger before an audience. Maybe it was a leap of faith, or maybe it was reassurance from my company of four other women, but I took a step in. And I’m so glad I did.

As a girl growing up in a world full of injustice and fear, I’ve become accustomed to an overwhelming sense of powerlessness. And in the face of this powerlessness, I’ve been angry. I’ve also come to accept that as a woman, much of this powerlessness that I’ve felt is systemic from being born into a class system that keeps me subjugated. But I’ve been repeatedly told that my anger should be subsided, that responding to this injustice with rage was dangerous, and that I should conduct myself as passive and willing in my own objectification. Again and again I’ve been told to pretend I wasn’t bothered by a comment made by a male relative, to not respond to unsolicited harassment, or been far too forgiving to an ex-boyfriend. Sometimes, even, for my own safety, because it’s impossible to predict if my anger would trigger a violent response from the man I was angry at. Because demonstrating any sort of indignation to my subjection to the patriarchy was unfeminine and challenging to these socialized gender norms. 

So, you can imagine my intrigue when coming across the concept of a “rage room”, a place where anger is celebrated and given a space to exist in. The concept is simple; you’re provided with a room full of breakables, a weapon, and an allotted amount of time to let loose. 

We were first given protective gear, including matching gray coveralls that looked more like they should belong to Michael Meyers instead of five teenage girls. Next, we were asked what music we wanted to be playing, though none of us took the initiative to propose Olivia Rodrigo (which would have been our pick) and ended up settling for the screamo-metal that was already blaring from the speakers. And finally, we were led to the rage room, where I discovered to my surprise, was not going to be a private event. But despite my initial hesitance, I found myself inside the room holding a crowbar in line with a glass wine bottle. 

I took a swing, and I did not miss. The sound of glass shattering and subsequent cheers was resounding. 

So we all took turns lining up breakables, and listening for the sweet sound of glass shattering upon impact. Our impact. We wrote down the names of people or things that fueled our anger onto the bottles before smashing them. We were so good at our anger, it was even rewarded by the staff with a free laptop, which we all smashed together as a team; a unit. And I think it was this that truly made me realize how incredibly unique this experience was. 

In my life I have never experienced a space where anger was celebrated to this degree. But ironically, this place which encouraged rage and destruction felt like a safer space to me than any other. Not only did the rage room offer me a place to transcend “feminine” expectations, but it gave me an outlet to direct this anger without having to justify it. 

And I’m not yet fully sure of the implications of this, but one thing I know is this; there’s something poetic about letting your emotions manifest themselves physically. Even now I struggle with finding words that adequately express the weight of this scorching, fiery, feminine rage I feel in me all the time, that I felt in the baseball bat as it splintered in my grip, and that shattered the glass into flying fragmented shards. The anger I felt and subsequent liberation because of it through the experience of the rage room will probably never be matched with words; the action itself was a transformative process, an artistic process, and a poetic experience. 

If I were to go back to the rage room, there’s a couple things I’d do differently. First of all, when asked what music I want to be playing, I’d make sure the sound of Olivia Rodrigo was reverberating off the walls. And second, I’d like to say I wouldn’t let the public nature of the rage room affect me, but I’m not sure that’s entirely true. I don’t know if one session of smashing has completely undone years of conditioning to be embarrassed to the point of concealing of my anger. However, I’d recall the feeling of being rewarded by that laptop and I’d be reassured to take a step through the doorway. And speaking of the laptop, there’s one very important aspect of my experience I’d keep exactly the same. It took five of us to destroy that laptop, and it’ll take more of us to tackle something bigger.