What is one of the most disempowering words a man can use to describe a woman, along with ‘fat’ and ‘slutty’? A word which is used to shame a woman into compliance when she texts too much (or too little), gets emotional, is outspoken or expels oxygen from her lungs?
Most, if not all women have been called ‘crazy’ at some stage in their life.
This is not a new trend by any means. Women have been diagnosed with ‘hysteria’ since the 4th and 5th centuries BC for displaying symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, loss of appetite, fluid retention, excitability, insomnia and a propensity to ‘cause trouble’. This ‘condition’ has existed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders up until 1980. Rather than use a scold’s bridle to shut a woman up (or burning her at the stake), simply calling her ‘crazy’ also works to perpetrate a sense of masculine superiority.
Thankfully I have no chauvinistic men in my life. Yet, while working in the corporate sphere, or indeed any sphere, I am still privy to these little tantrums some men try to swing when they are told ‘no’. Here are some of the reasons why men use these horrible tactics and why it needs to stop:
There is an expectation that women will be meek, pretty and an ‘ice-queen’ 24/7. This is a pretty tough gig when you are already required to have perfectly tamed eyebrows, great cleavage and know how to twerk in order to be considered girlfriend material. So when a woman becomes ‘difficult’ by not subordinating herself to the same status as a blade of grass, she is suddenly crazy. How so, you ask? Well, emotion is the antithesis of logic. Men are logical. Women are emotional. Therefore, women are illogical. Rather than dealing with an adverse option, it’s easier to just claim that a woman is crazy. Just consider all the abuse writer and feminist Clementine Ford sustains over the internet over her opinion posts regarding contemporary social issues such as the right for women to have a say over their own uterus.
Some men can’t handle rejection. If a woman doesn’t want to sleep with a man after the first date, or if she demands (god forbid!) some time and respect, the only plausible explanation is that she is crazy. This way, said man can still gloat about all of his conquests, rather than feeling emasculated by a woman’s god-given choices.
When a man has done some legitimately shady stuff, and he’s trying to throw you off his scent, he’ll try calling you crazy. That is the ultimate defence mechanism for someone guilty. Trust me. I mean, calling a man out over his infidelity is pretty much the worst thing a woman can do, right?
Yeah, maybe give that one a second thought. If you are driven by your quest for the truth, you are not in the wrong.
Calling someone ‘crazy’ trivializes emotion, a.k.a. gaslighting. The term gaslighting was popularised in the classic 1944 George Cukor movie, Gaslight. It is used to describe a form of mental abuse when a person’s claims are spun or manipulated so that a victim is made to question their own sanity or perception, framing them as crazy. When a person is constantly labeled as crazy, where their complaints are warranted, they may begin to doubt their emotions.
Now, not to appear one-sided, I must concede that woman (and men) can often be a bit… unreasonable. Unreasonable is when you are semi-crazy. When you’re quasi-crazy. When you’re the margarine of crazy or the diet coke of crazy. I have seen plenty of women demonstrate unreasonableness in their relationships. Here’s a table to help draw the distinction:
|Sending more than one text before getting a response||Trying to contact a man by every available social media portal (including Skype and WhatsApp) unless his life is in perilous and immediate danger)|
|‘Enquiring’ about ex-girlfriends||Logging onto your man’s Facebook and deleting all of his attractive female friends|
|Getting upset when you find out your boyfriend has used your favourite loofa to scrub his butt.||Threatening to burn down his house and sacrifice his guinea pig when he doesn’t call back|
|Calling a guy out when you have reason to suspect he is cheating (i.e. he always has his phone off, is communicating frequently with unknown women, smells faintly of a perfume which isn’t yours, gets defensive when you ask questions, etc).||Accuse a man of cheating because he has female friends who he has coffee with.|
|Wondering why he never mentions you to his friends||Getting upset when you don’t feature in his Facebook display picture|
|Blocking him on social media when you are trying to move on.||Breaking into his house with the intention of cutting off his penis with a toothbrush.|
|Asking what time your man will be home from work.||Demanding that your man be home from work at the same time every night and driving into the city to pick him up when he fails to abide by your schedule.|
|Asking who a girl is when her caller ID pops up on your man’s phone||Seeing un unknown female’s name on his phone and immediately assuming the worst, grabbing his phone and throwing it onto the road, shattering it into a thousand pieces.|
So, my point is that there is a pretty clear distinction between being crazy and unreasonable. But if crazy means being independent, outspoken, eccentric and a bad-ass, I’ll take that!