Whats Rage Oct 7, 2015

by Tracy Rector

My relationship to rage is long and varied from childhood to this very moment as I write. The first feelings of palpable anger occurred when my parents drunkenly argued in the kitchen, or when strange men would peer through my bedroom window at night while I hid under my stuffed animals crying, or when my young cousins shared stories of incest and abuse or the self-hatred that developed after having been myself molested at age 10.

Rage increased and became deeply internalized as I learned how to walk on eggshells or be quiet during a whipping, as I learned to eat mass amounts of food only to throw it up, or when I began to understand that my worth in the eyes of many men was purely based on prettiness or an ability to be accommodating. What all of these experiences have in common are the shutting down and suppressing of true feelings and pain.

Yes, I learned how to shelve anger but my body memory could not ignore these potent emotions. Pat Graney’s work is more than dance it is a ritual of acknowledgement. In order to heal we need to name the pain. Many women become practiced in denial in order to simply function. This energetic imbalance can, in my experience, cause more imbalance as a way to seek equilibrium. The visual landscape of Ms. Graney’s white boxes reminded me of this delicate dance that will always feel “off” as one tries so hard to be fixed through external means.

From the opening moments of tension while watching the woman make her way past a wall of boxes with a teetering tea cup in hand, to the saccharin smiles of the women in baby doll outfits, or the bodies of five women being objectified as if on display or the depravation of self, I felt uneasy and engaged. My body was connecting to my heart and mind as these anxious moments were punctuated with the very personal aspect of storyteller’s voices. The recordings provided proof. The women became witnesses to their own pain. This is how I was able to move through my trauma, by naming what happened and bring the dis-ease into the light.

The many boxes that girls and women are placed in maintain the boundaries that we ourselves protect in order not to feel, to stay in denial, to self-harm, or to please. This can stretch from playing the wanting vixen or the rampant embrace of the eroticized youth. But what happens when a woman has just had it? Rage can be so messy and inconvenient. Yet, if given an outlet, fury can become transformative. In this way, I felt that Ms. Graney was able to sew together the five seasons of feminine unconsciousness and consciousness while shaking the very roots of our rage. We are the life givers and meant to be free of confinement.