“Boys say very little, especially about the spirit world,” she answered. “Nonetheless, you pick up what you pick up. And I think some of the spirits are very patient, very wearing, very obdurate. The lore supposes there should be conflict, hostility, battle, but I wonder, in contact with spirits, if what the boy needs is a good helping of cold anger.”
“Oh yes, don’t you know that distinction? Tribal mothers always tell their children that there are two kinds of anger: hot and cold. Boys and girls experience both, but as they grow up the angers separate according to the sex. Boys need hot anger to survive. They need the inclination to fight, the drive to sink the knife into the flesh, the energy and initiative of fury. It’s a requirement of hunting, of defense, of pride. Maybe of sex, too.”
“Yes, I know,” said Elphaba, remembering.
Sarima blushed and looked unhappy, and continued. “And girls need cold anger. They need the cold simmer, the ceaseless grudge, the talent to avoid forgiveness, the sidestepping of compromise. They need to know when they say something that they will never back down, ever, ever. It’s the compensation for a more limited scope in the world. Cross a man and you struggle, one of you wins, you adjust and go on—or you lie there dead. Cross a woman and the universe is changed, once again, for cold anger requires an eternal vigilance in all matters of slight and offense.”