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In fashion: women who come together to scream in the night | Women

EExhausted and overwhelmed, Gretchen Miller felt the frustration of the past three years welling up inside her. On a whim, the 54-year-old from Sydney posted a message on her local community’s Facebook group. “Does anyone else feel like screaming?” she asked.

Responses poured in. “I want to scream because of climate change and economic inequality,” wrote one woman. “Because of the real estate agents and landlords,” said another. “My fiancé has decided he doesn’t love me anymore,” read one response. Miller said he received more than 100 messages in the first hour.

From this legend, the group Shout Sisters was formed. A month later, they met for the first time in a city center park to vent their frustrations on the Australian night.

In recent months, women-only “shout groups” like Miller’s have been popping up all over the world. Frustration, pandemic burnout and life pressures are common reasons women say they participate. Most are attracted to the idea of ​​releasing their anger without inhibition. It’s a freedom that participants say is hard to find in a world that can be uncomfortable with women’s rage.

“Women want to scream,” says Miller. “There are plenty of spaces for men to shout [but] we don’t often get the chance to raise our voices [and] when we do, we meet with disapproval.

“Wild and Fun”

On Wednesday evening in Sydney, the women begin to emerge – one by one – through the trees, walking along the path to the agreed meeting point.

A few nervous exchanges set the scene. A handful of joggers pass by as a college football team slowly disbands for the night.

“After the hellish week I’ve had, I need a good shout out!” Maryanne Lia, 45, a self-proclaimed “crier” and mother of four, jokes with the dozen or so strangers gathered in the park. A chorus of laughter and smiles nods in agreement.

A countdown triggers the cry. “Three. Two. One!” Twelve unbridled voices pierce the calm of the night, roar around the hills and then disappear into the passing traffic below. They scream again. Grabbing their knees, some shaking their hair, circling and some howling at the moon.

“I feel like a little magic just happened,” Miller says as the group lay on the grass, staring up at the stars. Lya agrees. “It’s the freedom to do something wild and fun…to let it all out with a mighty roar.”

A group of women gather in a downtown Sydney park to scream their frustrations into the night
A group of women gather in a downtown Sydney park to scream their frustrations into the night. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian

One of the first groups to gain attention was in the United States, in Boston, during the Covid pandemic shutdowns in 2021. Sarah Harmon, therapist, yoga teacher and mother of two, sparked a call for national action when she and a group of 20 women took to their local soccer field in Charlestown to shout into the cool evening air.

“It felt good to be able to lose control,” one attendee said of the event. Another said: “This is the closest I’ve come to finding a coven.”

In Asia, related rebellions are taking place. Deepika, 27, has mobilized a tenacious small task force of women across New Delhi who want to feel safe in a city plagued by a scourge of violence against women and girls.

“There’s a theme in India of keeping women quiet,” she explains. “It’s my little way of saying ‘no, we’re here, we have something to say and you’re going to hear it’.”

Deepika says the group helps challenge the idea that women’s anger should remain hidden. “Why is anger considered such a dangerous emotion in women?” she asks. “We have reason to be angry, but if we express it, we are considered mad, hysterical or out of control.”

His shouting group has almost 150 members and many congregate at locations in the Indian capital. “It’s therapeutic. It’s a kind of collective self-care,” says Deepika.

“No judgement… no shame”

Dr Miriam Yates, an organizational psychologist and researcher at the University of Queensland’s Social Science Research Institute, says anger and rage can be seen as undesirable or even unnatural for women.

“We expect women to be kind, caring, warm and cooperative. Anger, even rage, is incompatible with these expectations,” she explains.

Back in Sydney, Lia shares similar feelings about what it means to be female and furious in a world that has largely limited women’s anger.

The Sydney skyline at dusk, the perfect backdrop for a good cry of frustration.
The Sydney skyline at dusk, the perfect backdrop for a good cry of frustration. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian

“There’s real rage out there and women can’t express it. Where can you release that? Where can you scream?

“You can’t yell at your boss, you can’t yell at your kids. I’ll scream in the car but where else can you do it? Lia asks.

Earlier this year and a week after the start of one of China’s strictest Covid lockdowns to date, a video of Shanghai residents living inside a densely packed apartment building shouting at the unison from their balconies has gone viral online.

One woman said the screaming helped ease the frustration of being locked inside. His neighbors joined the choir after hearing his cries through the walls of their apartment.

Women have faced additional stresses related to work, family and social demands in recent years, adds Dr Yates.

Shouting groups can provide “the opportunity to express that rage in a supported environment” without the negative consequences, she says.

Seizing on a similar idea, Scottish-born Julie Scott runs Screech on the Beach from The Hague. It is a morning ritual that begins in the dark and ends with a moment of meditation on the sand. “I walk through the dunes and I feel lighter,” she explains.

For Scott, “there is no judgement, there is no shame” in shouting into the sea. also a great pleasure.

Screech on the Beach is a band led by Julie Scott from the sandy shores of The Hague where women scream into the sea before the sun rises.
Screech on the Beach is a band led by Julie Scott from the sandy shores of The Hague where women scream into the sea before the sun rises. Photography: Maaike Peterse


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