You Crazy Bitch!: The Myth of the Insane Woman

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If you are a woman in a heterosexual relationship now or at any point in your life, I am sure that you have been called “crazy” by the man in your life at some time or the other. I’ll bet money on that. Guys just love to call women crazy, I’ve noticed. If you disagree with them — you’re crazy, if you’re suspicious and have a valid reason to be — then you’re really crazy, if they don’t like what you have to say — you’re crazy. If they just want to get under your skin — you’re crazy. Now there’s crazy as in, wild or spontaneous, brave or willing to do anything and is frequently employed by some young women and girls to one another like: “Girl, you are so crazy!” Some females wear this label proudly, like a badge of honor, espousing things like, “I am one craaaazy bitch*” and they actually like it. (*Also, dismissive of people with mental health concerns and understandably, can be considered offensive too.)

These young women end up reinscribing the same stereotypical qualities of what they have been called because they think it’s cool. But there’s a flipside to the usage still, whenever a  young man employs the word. After all, a really good way to get a woman so-called acting crazy is to call her crazy. And, what’s crazy, really? Many times, crazy is simply female rage. Men are allowed to be angry. Women can only be crazy.

But when young men call the women in their life crazy, it’s often with a particular message encoded within the term that has nothing to do with actual mental health. In fact, they often use this word to simply disregard the opinions of all women as emotional, irrational and inconsequential.  It’s used frequently as a silencer in conversations about to go down a dangerous path as well. (i.e. He’s about to be proven wrong or something along those lines.)

I mean, what can you say to a comment like that but launch off into a tirade professing your non-craziness, only to realize how crazy the whole thing sounds anyway. No woman should need to profess her sanity to a person she is intimately involved with (I hope). And by then, isn’t it kind of too late? Plus really, in the end, it has nothing to do with sanity when the man in your life calls you crazy but it has everything to do with young men using this word as a frequent cop-out any time things get sticky. The range of crazy is far and wide too. Like Diddy’s annoyingly popular  term “bitchassness,” which is another umbrella term referring to a host of undesirable behavior and attitudes. So too is crazy.

Interestingly, when women use the term “crazy,” it usually does refer to someone hanging out in the bushes across from where she lives. Or some other kind of concrete behavior. Men as far as I can see, use crazy to sum up all the emotional aspects of a woman’s personality in any of the myriad of ways that pisses them off or makes them uncomfortable. That is not to say that a man cannot ever have an actual stalker. (Totally hearing Machel’s tune in my head right now: “Elevator. . . she riding up, she riding up, she riding, escalator, she riding down, she riding down. . . .”) But many young men regularly use the word “crazy” to denote some intrinsic quality of women, which is later supposedly (and conveniently) manifested in some situation between the two individuals. Supposedly. That’s when he says something like, “see I told you — you’re crazy.” So it turns out, you’re crazy simply because you’re a woman. Which is a mighty annoying sentiment that is well rooted in history apparently.

According to Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English’s Complaints and Sickness: The Sexual Politics of Sickness, even in today’s medical profession, “it is psychiatry, more than gynecology, that upholds the sexist tenet of women’s fundamental defectiveness” (79-80). And “in classical psychoanalytical theory there is no such thing as a mentally well woman” (80).  Thus assisting the “crazy bitch” and the emotionally unbalanced woman to become a fixture in our cultural landscape. Plus for the men who dominate our health and science industry and dictate where research funds go — it’s certainly more of a money-maker, what with all the potentially, supposedly, emotionally unbalanced females all over the place.

The focus of the inherent ill-health and instability of women, has shifted from the uterus to the psychological, due to some scientific advancements which no longer meant that “doctors found uterine and ovarian ‘disorders’ behind almost every female complaint, from headaches to sore throats and indigestion” (Ehrenreich and English 29). Furthermore, these medical misconceptions are firmly rooted in the notion of “women’s innate sickness” (Ehrenreich and English 32).

So the next time your guy calls you crazy, pause, take a deep breath and recognize it for what it is: a cheap shot most likely. Most of all, don’t believe the hype ladies! Young women should also take the time to explain to their male partners why “crazy” is not an okay default setting anytime he doesn’t agree with you on something.  Constantly discounting a woman’s viewpoint, fears, criticisms, thoughts, observations and what-have-you as crazy is oppressive. Dismissing her anger as craziness is also oppressive. Especially when it’s socially acceptable for a guy to punch his fist through a wall — or a female (as the case might be) because he is upset. And who’s to say what looks like crazy anyway? Seems like any woman who isn’t passive to any extent — must be crazy. The range of what makes us who we are, is as variegated as the experiences that we have had. And that’s something, that we all must keep in mind.

On a reluctantly related side-note update: — speaking of crazy women, in the May 2009 Vibe issue featuring Rihanna — the one with the tag-line echoing Ike-and-Tina on the cover, some alleged source close to the Chris Brown/Rihanna situation is quoted as saying (about Rihanna), “. . . she’s craaazy. . .she’s insane, you have no idea. She gets super-jealous and flips out on him.” Um wtf?

And why is all that equated with being so-called “crazy?” And can we be situation specific without resorting to “she’s crazy,” like that explains anything at all? Why the hell is there no in-between for women! Notice how craziness is conflated with possessiveness, jealousy and/or insecurity (that is to say, any and everything). Not to mention, whether these factors may or may not exist, is irrelevant in the broader scope of what apparently went down between these two individuals. Yet it’s being seen as a justification for the outcome of the situation by many individuals who think along that way. This is what I am talking about! But, meanwhile, no one has been calling Chris Brown a crazy-ass dude quite as much? STEUPS!

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4 Responses to “You Crazy Bitch!: The Myth of the Insane Woman”

  1. katie Says:

    i love this

    • soyluv Says:

      yay! thanks katie! i love seeing what’s going on on your side of the world. especially since you’ve seen a REAL life camel! 😉 total coolness.

  2. Sara Flower Kjeldsen Says:

    I appreciate this article! I was once actually called crazy by a man who had admitted to beating his step dad within an inch of his life. I guess that just made him macho…

  3. soyluv Says:

    Thank-you!

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