“A woman’s fury holds a lifetime of wisdom,” says Tracee Ellis Ross. “It’s time to let it breathe.”
And breathe it will, when the world beholds her not-yet-released talk delivered at the TED2018 Conference, which calls upon women to give language and shape to their collective fury. Not only does Ross encourage women to express centuries' worth of repressed anger, but she also urges men to be allies—to be open, self-reflective, and accountable.
It’s been a big week—though lately it’s always a big week—for the Black-ish actress, women’s rights advocate, and author of “The Handsy Man,” a children’s-book-for-adults she debuted on Jimmy Kimmel Live to help men understand sexual harassment. She may have swapped the silver-sequined jumpsuit she wore in Drake’s “Nice For What” video for a sleek black pantsuit to command the TED stage in Vancouver on Tuesday night, but essentially her message was the same as it often is. Whether she’s roaring her truths on national television, creating art, or speaking directly to Silicon Valley venture capitalists, she insists that women will no longer be ignored.
Ross opened the conference with a seemingly innocuous story. A friend of hers—an actress in her sixties—had been filling out some forms at the post office, when out of nowhere, someone moved her out of the way. “Someone physically put their hands on her and moved her,” said Ross. “Apparently, he needed something that she was blocking, so he moved her. He put his hands on her and moved her out of the way.”
The friend had been shocked at first, the actress continued, and then a fury she couldn’t explain slowly rose up inside of her. Ross shared her friend's response with the crowd: “I wanted to get physical. I don’t know why...He didn’t hit me, he didn’t hurt me, he didn’t violate me—he moved me, and yet I wanted to hurt him and yell at his face.”
And yet this was a violation of a kind. This seemingly small act triggered Ross’s fury, too. It spoke to an even bigger truth: that men have long assumed they can do what they want, and make assumptions about women’s bodies and lives when it suits them.