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If you’ve ever been told you “scream like a girl”, are a “spoilt princess”, or “be a good girl” – then this episode is for you.
Because those sayings are bullshit.
Soraya Chemaly is a writer, feminist, activist and best-selling author of Rage Becomes Her.
She talks about the power of women’s rage.
Soraya explains that if we suppress our rage, it makes us physically sick.
It takes a toll on our relationships.
When researching for her book Rage Becomes Her, Soraya uncovered the impact of race and gender on rage.
For men – they’re allowed to be angry.
It’s expected of them.
But – men are shamed if they express sadness.
It’s the opposite.
This is what society and culture tells us.
But Soraya argues that emotions shouldn’t be gendered.
We all feel the full spectrum of emotions, and when you suppress them, it negatively impacts your whole life.
Get my free daily emails to learn how to get into your BODY and silence your
crazy anxious mind.
Soraya brings a fresh perspective on how anger is about articulating your needs.
Anger is an advance emotion.
And you can be assertive and aggressive without being angry.
That’s the power of rage.
Soraya shares how to process rage and be strategic with it.
We also discuss her journey as a writer and her latest book – The Bankruptcy of Resilience.
Because life isn’t about being positive all the time.
It’s about being authentic.
Going through the highs and lows.
And asking for help when you need it.
That is true resiliency.
So click the play button right now to fuel your inner rage… 🔥
Connect with Soraya Chemaly:
Ellie Goode — Host of the Provocative “Sex, Money & Rage“ Podcast, Nervous System Junkie, and Plant Psychonaut 🌿
I created Sex, Money & Rage to talk about everything that’s taboo. You know, all the stuff your parents forgot to mention growing up. Psychedelics. BDSM. Kinks. Healthy Rage. Emotions. Boundaries. How to get into your body and silence your
crazy anxious mind.
Sex, Money & Rage provides powerful nervous system tools to help you dominate life’s toughest moments.
All podcast episodes are located here.
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Ellie Goode: Welcome to the Sex Money and Rage podcast.
Soraya Chemaly: The result for many women is that they don’t express their anger. And that is an injustice to women And I think we pay a price as a society for that. But in terms of women personally, as individuals, repressing your emotions makes you sick Really. It’s emotionally unhealthy, it hurts your relationships, manifests your anger. All of your emotions will find ways to manifest these cells in your body.
Ellie Goode: Welcome back to Sex Money and Rage. I’m your host, Ellie, and thank you for listening. If you want to support the podcast and help it grow, I’ll be forever grateful. Just pick the most scandalous episode you can find and send it to three of your friends. It really helps to get the word out, especially as this is a new podcast. We’re talking about the psychology and the hang-ups that people have around sex, money and rage. We also talk about psychedelics and nervous system hacks to help you dominate in business and in life, because life is more fun when you dominate. Sex Money and Rage is about living dangerously And it’s the provocative podcast where we talk about anything and everything that’s taboo. So if you’re easily offended and somehow ended up listening to a podcast about sex, money and rage, you should probably push the pause button right now, Or maybe you should listen, I don’t know. Anyway, please enjoy this episode of Sex Money and Rage. Let’s jump in. Hi Soraya, How are you going this morning? Or this afternoon?
Soraya Chemaly: Well, thank you, very well .Thank you, and you?
Ellie Goode: Yeah, I’m doing good. I’m doing good. Thank you for coming on the podcast Sex Money and Rage. I’m very excited to jump in. I actually found out about you from your book Rage Becomes Her, and it’s very, yeah, full of interesting information that we’re going to sort of unpack today. So for people who don’t know you or haven’t heard of you, can you just give a bit about sort of what you do and what you’re working on at the moment?
Soraya Chemaly: Sure, I am a writer, a feminist, an activist. I’ve spent many years now telling stories, essentially, and providing sort of analysis and background on all things related to gender and its intersections with different aspects of our identities, our institutions. So writing a lot about education, politics, religion, all with an eye to sort of explaining the way our identities are built around social constructs and cultural norms. And I’m working right now on a book that’s essentially about the bankruptcy of resilience narratives, how the demands that people will be endlessly resilient are ultimately just depressive.
Ellie Goode: Wow, interesting. So bankruptcy of resilience, what? what prompted that? What inspired that?
Soraya Chemaly: I was writing about care work and the ways in which our societies undervalue what’s prototypically women’s work nurturing, feeding, reproduction, health, you know, maintaining people’s health. And then COVID hit and that fundamental issue in our society exploded into an even more difficult kind of proliferation of talk about trauma and how traumatizing the pandemic might be. And to fast on the heels of that were stories about resilience, and so much of what we think of as resilience is built on the back of impoverished people and people who have less privilege in a society, less power in a society, and so that’s that’s how the book sort of evolved.
Ellie Goode: Wow, sounds interesting. I like what you said about, yeah, the resiliency is is sort of built off the back of of you know, hardship, and I think that that’s so true. I’ve experienced that as well. Just when you’re faced with challenges, you know you have no, sometimes no, i guess stability except to rise above it, or you know quit, and and so we, like you said, you were shaped in our identities through these challenging experiences. So it’s super interesting, and so so you mentioned that you are a writer. How did you get started writing?
Soraya Chemaly: Oh gosh, I’ve been a writer since high school. I started a feminist magazine in college. I was a writer My first job out of college And then, a few years after writing and editing, I decided I liked food, needed to buy it. So then I moved on to the business side of media and technology, and I did that for a long time And then, in 2009, 2010, i was really struck by the ways in which I felt cultural backlash against women was happening And I started writing again, and I’ve been more or less engaged in writing and activism since then.
Ellie Goode: Okay, so do you still work in the business and media space, or are you just doing writing at the moment?
Soraya Chemaly: I don’t. I serve on the board of multiple organizations that are involved in the kinds of issues that I write about media technology, information representation but I am not actively working in consulting or the business world now.
Ellie Goode: Okay, cool. And how do you think that sort of working in the business world influenced how your writing style is now?
Soraya Chemaly: Oh, I mean, I think it influenced it very powerfully. My background in the business world was in consumer market segmentation and also business to business sort of marketing, and that gave me a lot of insight into emerging technologies in the early aughts and particularly into the way social media companies were evolving and developing and relying on attention And our effective content production as a driver of their businesses, all of which ended up being fuelled and continue to be fuelled by emotions, and we see that every day. We see the ways in which hate and harassment and misinformation that trades in people’s fear, essentially, and in threats to their identity, spreads like wildfire on social media. It’s very profitable. When I set out to write as a feminist, that was sort of essential to my understanding of how cultural mores were being defined and redefined and redefined in a different media formats.
Ellie Goode: Yeah, and then I guess businesses are using that information and praying on the fear of people to then sell them products. It’s, I guess, typical marketing of create a problem and then here’s the solution by our service or product. And I guess, yeah, there’s definitely and there’s ethical issues around that. There’s definitely a need for businesses to solve problems, for sure, but I guess sort of what you’re talking about of fringing on, yeah, praying on, the fear of people, which is, I feel like that’s definitely unethical, yeah, i mean, i think I mean capitalism, right, we just leave it at that.
Ellie Goode: Yeah, yeah And so okay. so you went through business and then switched into writing and into the more emotional kind of impact of business and what people are going through, and so a few years ago you wrote Rage Becomes Her. So what was sort of the inspiration for that book?
Soraya Chemaly: And the immediate inspiration for that book was the US presidential election of 2016, because it was very clear that there was a rising tide of macho fascists or anger globally, populist anger and that male candidates could leverage that power to seem more authoritative or to really demonstrate leadership, whereas women candidates, if they try to articulate anger or in some of the same ways that male candidates might reference or use that anger, were treated differently. There’s just a double standard as to the ways in which we receive anger from different people, and so the book is a kind of life stage. It moves from childhood through old age to look at the ways in which the social treatment of anger affects us and how our social identities gender, race, sexuality become part of that equation.
Ellie Goode: And do you feel like since then that it’s been shifting, or do you think it’s more an oppression of women, or women haven’t been given space and permission to assert their anger in that sense, or what do you think is kind of the cause of that?
Soraya Chemaly: I mean I sort of use anger to look at social norms and stereotypes in various cultures. The book’s emphasis is on the United States and then secondly, sort of Anglo-European, English-speaking culture, but it’s an analysis of the ways in which we culturally define things like knowledge and leadership and power and the role that our perceptions of anger play in that. So, for example, we have different stereotypes for women and anger that follow us throughout our lives in different contexts. So if there’s a little girl and she’s angry, we might call her cute. But in either case, whether we call her cute or not, we tend to devaluate her anger. You see a lot of videos of little girls, for example, who are having temper tantrums and people are laughing and filming her And it gets two million hits on TikTok in half an hour or something. But that doesn’t help the little girl, right? It basically makes a mockery of her anger.
Soraya Chemaly: And then a girl will grow up and she’ll get to be a teenager and she’ll be dismissed as hormonal or unhinged or foolish and just not in her right mind. And then she’ll enter her 20s and she’ll be kind of a high maintenance bitch. And then she’ll get a little older and then she’s menopausal and then she’s definitely, you know, crazy, and so those are just kind of ways of shutting women down if they are articulating need, which is what anger is. But the same token, though, everything I just said is also affected by race and racism. So, starting at birth, a young black girl has to navigate angry black women stereotypes.
Soraya Chemaly: You know, a young black child in school, for example in the United States, is much more likely to be penalized, suspended, disciplined, disparaged, expelled from school for being assertive, right? you put the same behaviour in a young black girl versus a young white boy is treated very differently. And a young white boy, this behaviour that gets the girl disciplined, might be seen as rambunctiousness. And you know we have different standards for self-control for different children. If you’re Hispanic, you might be sexualized, right. If you’re Asian, of Asian descent, you’re much more likely to be considered passive and sad. And if you’re white, you’re legit, you’re just crazy, right? I mean, you just see pictures of women who are angry in representations that make them seem like mad women, which is, you know, an interesting word.
Ellie Goode: It’s very interesting all that stuff about especially, yeah, like the difference between men and women’s anger or girls and boys’ anger, and then also, like you said, bringing in the race element. It just it changes again. It’s, yeah, very interesting.
Soraya Chemaly: Yeah, and I mean we know that men, when they’re angry they are seen as more authoritative because it confirms our notions of masculinity. But when a woman is angry, let’s say in a meeting, in the workplace, it confronts our gender stereotypes. When a woman’s angry, it rubs us the wrong way, so she’s not seen as authoritative or as a leader, and that’s the sort of double standard, double edged sword that women are constantly navigating.
Ellie Goode: Why do you think that is? Is it just historically, that’s just what’s happened in society and we’re still kind of locked into those stereotypes, Or is it? yeah, what do you think is the cause of that?
Soraya Chemaly: Yeah, i mean, I think it’s cultural norms, right. I mean we live in a sex segregated societies. Our economies are sex segregated, our education systems are sex segregated. Our gender roles dictate what we wear, what our relationships are like, how power is distributed, what jobs we get. I mean it’s so fundamental to the way our systems are organized, right.
Ellie Goode: Yeah, definitely, definitely. And so I guess, in researching for Rage Becomes Her, did you sort of come across any studies or research that explored, you know, how we can express anger or rage in healthy ways, where women perhaps are not seen as crazy and have that authority that men have, or is it sort of yeah?
Soraya Chemaly: situational. I mean, i think women don’t have to be angry to be considered angry, right, they are considered. You know, if a woman is assertive, if she’s aggressive neither of which requires anger she can still be easily dismissed as an angry woman, and so I kind of want to make that distinction. The result for many women is that they don’t express their anger, and that is an injustice to women, and I think we pay a price as a society for that.
Soraya Chemaly: But in terms of women personally as individuals, repressing your emotions makes you sick really. It’s emotionally unhealthy, it hurts your relationships, it manifests your anger. All of your emotions will find ways to manifest themselves in your body, and so I have several chapters on what that looks like. But also, you know, if you’re in relationships whether those are intimate relationships or family relationships or work relationships if you can’t trust the people around you to listen to you when you’re angry, to want to help you, to understand what might be making you angry, you’re not really in a relationship of reciprocal care, right, yeah, and I think that’s really important for people to understand.
Ellie Goode: Definitely. It brings to mind when you said earlier about like women being girls, being laughed at when they’re angry. It’s like I have memories of that happening. you know like I would get angry Oh, me too.
Ellie Goode: As a child, I’m sure many people do, and being laughed at, and I assume it’s because the person laughing, you know it’s pushing their buttons And so their way of coping is to laugh at it is to. That’s their way, like you said, of shutting it down. And and it’s, it’s so fascinating. I don’t even know if people realize like the damage. I don’t.
Soraya Chemaly: Yeah, i don’t think they realize. And you know, it’s so part of our culture to generate great girls. You know, you, still, I’m still amazed when I see a new movie like it’s 2023. You can watch a movie and someone will make fun of a man for screaming like a girl. Yeah, and it’s such a small thing, right, it’s just this little little thing, but it’s a thousand little things like that. You know, when we share those videos, or or you know, call, call someone a spoiled princess, we’re not actually listening to the child, we’re not, we’re not saying why are you so upset? You know, by the time a child or an adult has gotten to the point where they’re having a tantrum or they’re breaking things, the anger has already been mismanaged, right? The point is not to get to the point of rage.
Ellie Goode: Yeah right, i actually just did an interview with Irene Lyon yesterday and she mentioned that. Yeah, like that, the anger is a scale and you know one end you’ve got annoyance and frustration And then on the other end of the extreme is violence. You know which is rage that or rage that’s not being healthily released or validated? is people Yeah, like they have they, like you said, blow up or turn to bigger and more drastic measures to be heard and seen?
Soraya Chemaly: Yeah, and by the time someone is enraged, there’s already a lot of unhealthy dysfunction. That’s evident, right.
Ellie Goode: Yeah, yeah, yeah, so, and so what do you think, as a society and I guess even as individuals, what can we do to shift this so that women are taken seriously when they’re assertive or authoritative, or angry, or?
Soraya Chemaly: Yeah, I mean, I mean at the widest scale, the highest level, we would have to first of all recognize that it’s a problem. Right? A lot of people just don’t believe that this kind of discrimination exists or that it matters. They don’t, you know, they don’t understand the cumulative nature of microaggressions or trauma, or the systemic impacts of this kind of bias in our education systems and our workplaces. So, at the very, at the very bare minimum, we need a societal recognition that we have a problem and that our systems are not not working for most of us. And I don’t think we have that. I don’t think we have that personally, One of the goals of my writing the book was so that girls, and women especially, could have a language to understand the experiences.
Soraya Chemaly: I never had that I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I didn’t appreciate what it meant to be a good girl and to not ever articulate anger or even to lose the ability to feel anger, which is what happens to a lot of us. We forget the feeling of anger in our bodies because girls will be punished for being angry when they’re young girls, And so the point is to not punish them, to listen to them. Now, by the same token, boys are punished for showing sadness or fear or anxiety or any of those emotions that are considered feminine. The point is why do we gender the emotions at all? Yeah, definitely We shouldn’t be doing it, right.
Ellie Goode: Absolutely, and I love that you mentioned about feeling rage in the body, because that’s definitely something I’ve been learning to do over the last several years is paying attention to those impulses, because anger and rage often it’s telling you something like someone’s crossed a boundary or something is not right and I want to do something about it, or I’m motivated to fix a problem, or it’s a very it’s like. these sensations we have in our bodies are indicating to us like it’s time to act, it’s time to do something. that’s so important to tune into that And I think, like you said, a lot of us are so shut down still to that, to those feelings.
Soraya Chemaly: Yeah, I think a lot of us. Just we learn not to feel them right Because we’re rewarded for not feeling them and it’s unhealthy.
Ellie Goode: Yeah, definitely, definitely. And so in your work have you sort of explored what that looks like practically if someone was say, really shut down with feeling anger. Is there any tools or things that you have learned or discovered that work well to bring someone back into feeling those things that they’ve disconnected from?
Soraya Chemaly: Yeah, I mean, I talk about it throughout the book, but sort of the importance of it, right, like why is it important? And then at the end I summarize the kind of steps that might be helpful naming your emotions really accurately, labelling them right. We also learn to minimize our anger. So we use a lot of trivializing language or language that deflects from the emotion. I’m tired, I’m stressed, it’s nothing I’m overreacting, you know, I’m just a little irritated, all of those things. And so I think that accurately labelling an emotion is really important, because only after you do that can you actually make meaning out of it. Why do I feel this? What’s wrong? What needs to change? You know, we’d much rather call an angry woman sad, like we have.
Soraya Chemaly: One of the biases is that we attribute sadness to an angry woman and anger to a sad man. We just have divided things up that way and that hurts everybody, right? Like? men have the right to be sad and they need to be heard when they’re sad, but women also have the right to be angry, and those are very different emotions. Sadness is actually a retreat emotion and anger is an advanced emotion.
Soraya Chemaly: Anger is very social because, in fact, most of the time, anger implicates someone else. You need something from a person or an institution, or your society or your politics. You need something to happen. That requires other people, and some of us are entitled to feel that other people owe us their attention, their time, their care, but others don’t have that entitlement right, and so for most men, particularly in very diverse cultures like the United States, for most white men, anger is associated with political right and political power. But black men don’t have that right and power and angry black men is much more likely to be criminalized. Women generally, across the board, do not have that right. They don’t have the entitlement to anger as power, and so that’s a difference right. And so thinking about what that looks like in your personal life, in your professional life, in your political life, is what I’m kind of urging people to do.
Ellie Goode: Yeah, it’s a very, i think, important thing to explore individually as well as in society, as you mentioned, and I just think there’s so many benefits that I’ve personally discovered, and I can see in other people, of feeling into your anger and listening to it, whether it’s in your personal life, in sorting out relationships and being more assertive about what you want, whether it’s in business and dealing with clients and employees and going after what you want, because, like you said, rage is a very action or anger is an action-based kind of pushing forward. you know things. So I think there’s just so many benefits to this and I also want to get word out to people that you know this anger, this rage, it’s a power source, it’s energy that we can use, you know, for good, if we learn how to use it in a healthy way.
Soraya Chemaly: Yeah, and I think there’s another thing that really struck me in the research that I did. And you know, we kind of have this idea that women keep anger in and men push their anger out, and there is some truth to that right, because in fact the way we construct femininity and masculinity would encourage us to do that. But there’s something else going on, though. Men tend to see anger as either holding it in or holding it out, but women’s expression of anger is different. In fact, it’s not that they keep their anger in, it’s that they keep it out of their relationships, which is different. So I have an example in the book where my mother is very angry.
Soraya Chemaly: I saw her as a child throwing plates, and that’s very typical of women. She was angry and she needed to do something. She didn’t talk to my father and tell him she was angry. She didn’t risk that relationship. Instead, she broke these plates right, and it was a way of venting.
Soraya Chemaly: But in fact, venting doesn’t help people. It doesn’t change the circumstances that made them angry And in fact it may make them feel more angry because it allows them to ruminate in an unhealthy way. And so we can each of us as individuals, basically practice, formulate a plan to say, when I feel this way, what’s the most constructive thing I can do. I don’t actually have to be aggressive if that doesn’t suit the circumstances. There are some circumstances in which anger calls for aggression, but other circumstances in which aggression is gonna be counterproductive. Right, you can’t get angry at your boss at work and be aggressive, but you can find an ally who won’t be penalized for saying what you need said. Right, you have to strategize about how to make the change that you need to see, and so that’s the sort of thing that is important to think about.
Ellie Goode: Definitely, definitely. I think it’s, yeah, it’s like you know, you feel this, i guess, charge of anger or whatever come through your body, and then it’s like you said, learning how to respond in a healthy way, like not to blow up at someone and, you know, rip their head off or you know whatever. But it’s like, yeah, like you said, trying to be strategic in how you let that anger out and how you work with that and change the situation So it doesn’t happen again, which is really important. Yeah, i think it’s good to be prepared. Yes, definitely, definitely.
Ellie Goode: And I think, well, a lot of people probably especially if they’ve shut it down for so long, you know, don’t know how to, and so it might take some time for them to figure out. okay, what does it look like to release this in a healthy way? And that’s definitely, i think, an individual thing, because what works for one person might not work for another person. So it’s interesting, cool. And so, in terms of the writing process, more so if we switch gears a little bit, what are some challenges you’ve sort of faced in building your writing career and sort of how did you overcome them?
Soraya Chemaly: Well, those are always changing because technology is changing very fast all the time. So the you know, the being a writer in 2012 is very different from being one in 2016, which is very different from being one now. They’re kind of rapidly evolving challenges. you know, I think that actually one of the biggest problems for me as a writer personally is the press of the culture, the nature of content creation and media today requires particularly of women. we turn ourselves into products, right that we live our lives online, that we’re constantly producing content, And I struggle with that. I don’t want that myself. And so the question is how do you do your job without compromising the things that are important to you, which is, I think, you know, a question everybody has in their work.
Ellie Goode: Generally, I yeah, I’ve very much switched off social media in my life and it’s been so good, It’s done wonders, and your writers definitely a push to post constantly and keep churning out content and this highlight reel, and I wonder how effective it is if, because everyone, or a lot of people, are doing that you know, i know there’s a good copywriter that I’m, that I’m learning from, and he isn’t on any socials, he just has an email list and and his whole thing is like, if you want to know anything about me and contact me, you have to be on my email list. Yeah, and I think it’s just a really smart strategy. His name’s Daniel Throssell for anyone interested, but it’s a really interesting strategy because you know he he’s removed himself from social media, so there’s like a scarcity element which is then pushing people more into his email list, which is how he’s building his business and he’s very successful. So I think that there’s definitely it’s good that there’s these, these other approaches I guess you could take towards building an audience and pushing out content in a different way, in a different way. There are alternatives.
Ellie Goode: Yes, yeah, yeah. So so do you like what I guess in terms of pushing out content? do you post a lot on social media. Do you more have an email list sort of how do you promote your work?
Soraya Chemaly: Well, I have been. Really I’ve been writing a book now for 18 months, which is just basically meant being in retreat from a lot of things. Part of book promotion does really require you to be socially engaged and and kind of on. I kind of switch gears right. There’s a time when I’m doing X, another time when I’m doing Y, And at this particular time I’m definitely in thinking and writing mode.
Ellie Goode: Yeah, and do you manage it all yourself Or do you have it? I do, i manage it all myself. Yes, how does that go?
Soraya Chemaly: Sometimes it goes better than other times. It really depends, you know.
Ellie Goode: Yeah, yeah And yeah I can, i can relate. I’m managing the podcast on my own, but it’s, it’s a lot of fun It’s a lot of work.
Ellie Goode: It is a lot of work, like more than more than you like. I thought like, and you know, you think there’s going to be a lot of work, but then every every step on the journey, you’re like, oh, there’s stuff I didn’t even know I had to do, like okay, cool, it’s just how long have you done it? It’s been about six months now, so not that long. But I can’t imagine writing a book that just sounds like a whole other, whole other thing, what, what is sort of the process of you know, conceptualizing, i guess, the basis of the book to writing it and getting it published. With what does that look like?
Soraya Chemaly: I mean, I’ve had two very, very different experiences. So you know, you’ve, you’ve to. I would say, in my, in my case, I had an agent, I submitted a proposal. We went back and forth with that proposal. She was she’s an editing agent. At one point I had an agent that was not an editing agent. And I didn’t … I personally didn’t like that. So I found another agent But and then submitted it, sold, sold my manuscript, and then you sort of have a deadline, and then you meet your deadline, right Yeah, and that’s when I’m in that mode. I’m basically writing all day, every day.
Ellie Goode: Wow, do you have like a certain number of words you try and push out per day, or No?
Soraya Chemaly: I have a. I usually do it where I give myself. I have a pace that I can count on, like I know my writing pace, and so I’ll make a schedule for myself and say, okay, it’s a chapter per week or something like that.
Ellie Goode: Okay, cool, and is there like a lot of research involved? Do you sort of break it up?
Soraya Chemaly: I mean, I do myself a lot of research. I tend always to be researching, to be honest, like I’m constantly printing, reading, saving, organizing research that interests me. I don’t really have a. I don’t say I’ll take six months to research and then six months to write Generally. that’s not how I do it, okay, cool.
Ellie Goode: So sort of like, evolves the as you go. That’s cool, interesting. And do you, do you sort of write in like a program or online, or how do you just write in word, okay, yeah, nice, nice, cool. And does your? does your agent sort of, like you said, a editing agent? do they give you feedback along the way or do you just start?
Soraya Chemaly: to finish. I just start to finish. It’s all mine.
Ellie Goode: Oh, wow, that’s cool. That’s cool, and so see mentioned writing retreats. Is that sort of solo retreats Or do you go off?
Soraya Chemaly: No, no, I don’t go anywhere. I literally mean, I just retreat from life.
Ellie Goode: Okay, okay, look yourself up in the office. Yes, oh nice. Is it like a home office, or do you have? it is a home office.
Soraya Chemaly: Oh, nice. Well, I had an office until COVID and then it didn’t make any sense to, was a waste of money.
Ellie Goode: Yeah, yeah Cool. And do you have like a cool outlook from your writing office? that helps with inspiration, or is it just sort of No?
Soraya Chemaly: I put on my headphones and I generally don’t look at anything but my computer. So you know, yeah.
Ellie Goode: Okay, so you mentioned so the bankruptcy of resilience. Yes, could you just sort of maybe go into a bit about what that’s about that? That sounds, yeah, really interesting.
Soraya Chemaly: Sure, it really is about the ways in which we’ve there’s this cultural press for people to be resilient. But what are we really talking about in the end? Are we really talking about positive adaptation Or are we talking about kind of demanding that people be good workers, exhausted mothers, stressed students? What are we doing? What do we mean when we say resilience? You know, and there’s sort of There’s now decades and decades and decades of research about human adaptability, and so is what we know about people adapting to change and trauma. align with what we say about resilience? And in many cases it really doesn’t. In many cases, resilience is just kind of repackaged pull yourself up by your bootstraps. individualism, sort of toxic individualism.
Ellie Goode: Like sort of just push on, get it done, no matter what it takes, Don’t feel, Just do Interesting. And so what sort of has come out of the research and the writing process of resilience?
Soraya Chemaly: I mean, I’m still in the middle of it. I’ve basically identified eight myths things we say about resilience that are not very helpful. Actually, Like, resilient people are always optimistic. That’s actually just not true. Resilient people tend to accept those negative and positive emotions. They’re quite pragmatic, They adapt, They’re cognitively flexible, Whereas if you believe that resilient people are always optimistic, you might engage in optimism that’s delusional. You won’t actually deal with the problem at hand, which means you’re not adapting at all. So it’s things like that.
Ellie Goode: Right. So sort of like you’re bypassing and just again kind of go back to what we said before, shutting down those emotions instead of feeling them Right.
Soraya Chemaly: And, in fact, you’re taking advantage of people around you who, generally speaking, probably are having to do the work of adapting for you, like sorting out problems that maybe you should be sorting out yourself right, right, because you’re not thinking about it.
Ellie Goode: You’re just being positive And everything’s fine. And the house is on fire, everything’s fine, it all worked out.
Soraya Chemaly: That’s right. The house is on fire And you’re like water. water will come somewhere. It’ll rain one day, you know.
Ellie Goode: Yeah, that’s so interesting. It reminds me again of social media and of just always being upbeat and having these overnight successes of businesses. And that’s part of what I really wanted to dive into on the podcast is, you know, business is really hard and it’s messy and it pushes on your buttons and you know all your insecurities at least in my experience And you know like sometimes it can take years to replace your salary income. Or you know, a lot of people have a full-time job while they’re building a business And yet what’s marketed is this you know, get rich quick. You know, build a business online and live in Mexico on a beach, and that is definitely, you know, a possibility. But I think there’s this delusion of like, oh, i just got to be positive and it’s just going to happen in three months, or you know it’s delusional, like you said, you know It’s interesting?
Soraya Chemaly: Yeah, it’s not. It’s very unrealistic, you know, and I think that that’s hard for people. It’s hard And, as we’re sort of in the throes of late-stage capitalism, there’s so much austerity, there’s increasing poverty, the wealth gap is growing. The levels of exhaustion and exploitation that our societies rely on just to keep the machine going are just quite shocking. You know, they’re just, they’re cruel. It ends up I think Lauren Berlant called it a cruel optimism. You have this hope that you can just work hard enough and you’ll be successful, whereas in fact chances are that you won’t be, you know, and that that promise, that sort of and this is where toxic positivity comes in that promises, it actually makes it harder for you to adapt in a way that’s healthy and positive.
Ellie Goode: Do you think it’s because people don’t have an awareness of what’s going on, or they don’t want to know what’s going on in society in terms of the poverty and even just like sweatshop labor overseas and they don’t see where products are coming from? Yeah, I mean.
Soraya Chemaly: I think it’s many things right. I mean, we live in the United States, certainly in an insular, exceptionalist society. I think most Americans don’t care or don’t know about the rest of the world. You know, the country is sort of in denial about its own history, social relationships, So it’s not as though it’s going to make a huge cultural effort to understand global dependencies that might be exploitative, right, And so you have a real, a real culture clash between forces that want to recognize those things and forces that actively don’t want to recognize them. You know, and that’s hard.
Ellie Goode: It’s sort of like I mean, i’ve been guilty of this, of this entitlement of living in this bubble of you know, just yeah, everything’s going to be fine, and there’s like an ignorance, you know, and I’ve definitely gotten caught up in that. It’s a big problem. I think where, yeah, people like you said, there’s this toxic positivity of everything’s fine and it’s often not, but you know, it’s uncomfortable to talk about that and to think about that and to feel that, because then you know you have to do something about it. Yeah, it’s hard.
Ellie Goode: And people are tired and they’re stressed. Yeah, yeah, there’s a lot going on And, you know, maybe people don’t have capacity to to feel these things, or, or, yeah, be aware of them And so, and so you’ve got awareness sorry, bankruptcy of resilience coming out is is what’s the launch date for that? roughly Oh gosh, I don’t know yet. I don’t know. Nice, Are you working on any other projects in the meantime, Or that’s sort of your?
Soraya Chemaly: It’s everything. That’s my sole focus at the moment. It’s done.
Ellie Goode: I’m I’m working on edits with my editor, So Exciting, and and we’ve got a few more minutes before we wrap up but for people who say want to know a bit more about this resilience, what are some things that you could advise them to to do, whether in their personal life and in business, to become more resilient in an authentic way? You know it’s interesting.
Soraya Chemaly: I think that, just because of the nature of our traditions, our culture, our philosophical traditions, our political systems, we are really taught to think of ourselves in isolation from other people, as individuals who have autonomy and agency, and that has done us a huge disservice, because even her autonomy is relational. We live in a relation to each other, to other beings in the world, to you know, non-living, the non-living world. We are constantly in relation to our environments And yet we maintain this kind of illusion of closed off selfhood and self-sufficiency. That is just that it’s an illusion. We are highly dependent on each other. We evolved to cooperate with each other. We evolved to survive in relation to each other, and yet a lot of the lessons that we teach children and that we value in our society about resilience ignore all of that. It’s all about mental toughness, or your mindset and your outlook, and it’s insufficient.
Ellie Goode: It’s sort of like that’s one piece of the puzzle, but you’re absolutely right, we are super interdependent on each other and, even just thinking about food services, you go to the grocery shop and you buy your food and, if you think about all the different companies that create these products and the delivery drivers and the staff at the grocery stores and the people in the marketing, like it’s a whole organism of thousands and millions of people in all different industries around the world that are, yeah, interconnected. And yet we promote this independence. Do it all on your own. And I think, yeah, like you said, when we start to work together and ask for help, like that’s when the magic happens, that’s when things really start shifting for the better.
Soraya Chemaly: I find yeah, yeah and I think people who feel shame of having to ask for help are also much more likely to shame others who express need. Right, but in fact, all of us need help, all of us have need. In the end, a lot of it ends up, at its core, just being terribly ableist, because the fundamental premise of it is that an able-bodied person who doesn’t require help in any way is the most resilient person. Right, and that’s bullshit.
Ellie Goode: Yeah, and the irony is that, whether they realize it or not, they would have had help along the way. you know Well, they have always had help?
Soraya Chemaly: Yeah, exactly, they’ve always had help And in fact they’ve probably exploited that help, right? Whether it’s emotional labor provided by women around them or the underpaid work of members of their community, right Like there’s always a transfer happening of care and support and resources and privilege, and so that whole idea of self-sufficiency really deserves to be interrogated. And, in addition to which, it’s just, it’s the nature of being human that we are dependent on one another. We’re dependent as children, we’re dependent in old age, we’re dependent if we’re sick. You know, they’re just periods in human life where, even if you are not a person who technically lives with a disability, you too will have periods of life in which you will rely on people to care for you.
Ellie Goode: Yeah, definitely, definitely. I mean even just going to the bank or driving on the road, like someone had to build that road or work at that bank to imagine the world without all these interconnected services. It wouldn’t be this world that we live in, it would just be, yeah, impossible.
Soraya Chemaly: Yeah, and actually we’ve just been talking about people. But in fact that notion of relationality, right. Of being in relation to the world, of being separate from the world, also means living in a kind of corrupting hierarchy where, in the case of sort of Western modernity, humans, particularly men, are supposed to be outside of nature, and not just outside of nature but above nature, superior to nature, controlling of nature. And look where that’s gotten us. Like it’s a shit show, it’s just an unmitigated disaster.
Ellie Goode: Yeah, and it’s important, I think, yeah to for us all to come back to that realization. Of, yeah, we need each other and we need the earth and the resources and, yeah, the relationships. And I think collaboration, especially, is so important. And beneficial for everyone in terms of exchanging value, like it’s so much more productive to work with people and exchange knowledge and experience, and also more profitable from a business perspective as well, because you’re investing and leveraging of each other’s talents and for the good of serving the market as well, which is, yeah, yeah, that’s true. Yeah, well, we are almost on time. So, for people who wanna find out a bit more about you and get some of your books and find out more, where can they connect with you?
Soraya Chemaly: So I have a Twitter account which is @schemaly, and also Instagram and I’ve a rage becomes her account on Instagram and Facebook. Those are the ones I mainly post on
Ellie Goode: Okay cool, and I’ll also link to your books as well, and once the new one comes out, I’ll add that one in. Thank you for coming on the podcast and giving up your time.
Soraya Chemaly: Yes, and thank you And good luck with everything.
Ellie Goode: Thanks so much for listening. Before you go, please go and find the most outrageous, scandalous episode on Sex Money and Rage and send it to three of your friends. It just helps get the word out about the podcast as it’s new and also pleases all the podcast gods, who decide the fate of the future. So thanks, have a great week. I’ll catch you next time. Bye.