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Barrett Emerick Audrey Yap

Abstract

This paper explores a phenomenon that we will call “justified-but-misdirected anger”, in which one’s anger is grounded in or born from a genuine wrong or injustice, but is directed towards an inappropriate target. In particular, we argue that oppressive ideologies that maintain systems of gender, race, and class encourage such misdirection and are thereby self-perpetuating. We engage with two particular examples of such misdirection. The first includes poor white voters who embrace racist and xenophobic politics; they are justified in being angry about their own economic exploitation, but that anger is misdirected in a way that maintains capitalism (which is the appropriate target of their anger). The second includes so-called “incels” who embrace misogyny; they are justified in being angry about unrealistic and unhealthy standards of contemporary masculinity, but that anger is misdirected in a way that maintains patriarchy. One goal of exploring this type of justified-but-misdirected anger is to contribute to an anti-carceral feminism that helps to thread the needle between holding wrongdoers to account while also clearly identifying the oppressive ideologies that influence their actions.

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