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‘We will march side by side and demand a bigger table’: anger as dignity claim

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Martha Nussbaum’s (2016) account of anger limits its utility in part due to its vengeful and narcissistic aspects; she notes that even when anger rightfully identifies a harm or unjust act, it too frequently represents a desire for retribution or status degradation of the offender. I think this viewpoint is incomplete, because it reduces human relations and status to a zero-sum tussle: I can only gain status if you (at least theoretically) lose it. While Nussbaum does not explore a connection between human dignity and anger, I argue that feminist political uses of anger are often premised on exactly this sort of idea. To be specific, the use of dignity that is present in feminist political anger is not of the zero-sum variety (women gain status through men’s loss of status), but as a claim of worth. Feminist political anger argues that women count too, and women deserve dignity and respect: first, as a kind of personal or bodily dignity, and second as an assertion of political identity or autonomy. It is the absence of their dignity and recognition that is the injury; their rage is an assertion of presence, a demand for dignity and recognition. This demand does not require the lessening of another’s dignity.
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Keywords: anger; autonomy; dignity; gender; recognition

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Regis University, USA

Publication date: May 2020

This article was made available online on December 20, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "‘We will march side by side and demand a bigger table’: Anger as dignity claim".

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  • Global Discourse is an interdisciplinary, problem-oriented journal of applied contemporary thought operating at the intersection of politics, international relations, sociology and social policy. The Journal's scope is broad, encouraging interrogation of current affairs with regard to core questions of distributive justice, wellbeing, cultural diversity, autonomy, sovereignty, security and recognition. All issues are themed and aimed at addressing pressing issues as they emerge. Rejecting the notion that publication is the final stage in the research process, Global Discourse seeks to foster discussion and debate between often artificially isolated disciplines and paradigms, with responses to articles encouraged and conversations continued across issues.

    The Journal features a mix of full-length articles, each accompanied by one or more replies, policy papers commissioned by organizations and institutions and book review symposia, typically consisting of three reviews and a reply by the author(s). With an international advisory editorial board consisting of experienced, highly-cited academics, Global Discourse publishes themed issues on topics as they emerge. Authors are encouraged to explore the international dimensions and implications of their work.

    All research articles in this journal have undergone rigorous peer review, based on initial editor screening and double-blind peer review. All submissions must be in response to a specific call for papers.

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