Is it “Ironic” or are you “Coming Undone”: Male v. Female Rage In Music

Is it “Ironic or are you “Coming Undone”:  Male v. Female Rage In Music

Picture by Ashlee Guardado

When “it’s just one of those days,” do you “Break Stuff” with Limp Bizkit or ache with Fiona Apple? Do you scream with Alanis or rock with Korn? The difference between them is only the rage, female and male. While anger, sadness, fear, and insecurity are things everyone feels, men, women, and those in between, all experience them differently. 

At a basic level, male rage is exactly that—rage. It’s in your face. Punch a hole in the wall or someone’s nose. Scream at your mom and rage with your friends. Throughout time, men experiencing anything other than rage is simply unheard of. The old sentiment of manliness is still very active in society today. Most recently college football’s crimson wave was overturned with Tennessee’s win over Alabama. Tennessee fans stormed the field and rejoiced; they later took home the goalpost as a souvenir.

While this behavior is deemed normal for sports fans, many women are not allowed the same pleasure. Women’s anger is deep and powerful. It feels all-encompassing and consuming. Like your own brain is suffocating you. A hunger that cannot be satisfied with people or dreams. But you cannot share it, because being emotional is not reflective of the strong “nurturing” woman. 

In music, the sentiment is the same. Nu Metal is a perfect example of male rage. Arriving in the 90s with Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit, and Rage Against The Machine, to name a few. These men sang about anger, sadness, and self-expression in the most aggressive way possible. While there is no denying their music is amazing and has stood the test of time, the underlying message has always been present.

At the same time, female artists like Jewel, Fiona Apple, and most recently, artists like Phoebe Bridgers and Taylor Swift sing about their bitter experiences with men and this world. Their pain is something anyone relates to, but it is underlying. It’s not screaming at the listener; it’s cutting through them like a knife boiling with hot anxiety. 

Contrary to popular belief, women want to “break stuff” too, and men want to let their “tears ricochet.” As a society, we’ve told everyone emotion is weak, be a big man and suck it up. Don’t be a crazy ex-girlfriend and get over it. In response, so much violence and pain are born. 

As people we have to understand our rage, and channeling it through music is one of those magical gifts we have. When a person feels all alone, they can always turn to their favorite artist as shelter from the storm. We can’t grow until we understand that all forms of rage are healthy. It’s time for people to accept that we’re not designed to be perfect and it’s ok to feel out of place in the world. So the question remains: “is it just one of those days”?