On Labeling Women “Crazy”

Fashion runway bride, with bridal straightjacket.

Today’s insight comes from Dr. Nerdlove. Though not an official doctor or anything, good advice for every one involved.

Because finally, there is someone willing to call out the casually passive practice of calling a woman “crazy” for what it is,  abusive.

I’ve had to quit telling stories about crazy exes or women I’ve dated.

The problem was that I started realizing that when my friends and I would talk about our crazy exes or what-have-you, more often than not, we weren’t talking about ex girlfriends or random dates who exhibited signs of  genuine mental health issues. Now I did have a few where I would qualify my story with ‘No, I don’t mean ‘we broke up and I can’t be bothered to figure out where things went wrong, I mean that she was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and was starting to show signs of genuine paranoia,’ but for the most part, crazy meant ‘acting in a way I didn’t like.’

There are certain words that are applied to women specifically in order to manipulate them into compliance: ‘Slut’, ‘Bitch’, ‘Ugly/Fat’ and of course, ‘Crazy’.


‘Crazy’ may well be the most insidious one of the four because it encompasses so much. At its base, calling women ‘crazy’ is a way of waving away any behavior that men might find undesirable while simultaneously absolving those same men from responsibility. Why did you break up with her? Well, she was crazy. Said something a woman might find offensive? Stop being so sensitive.

When someone talks about the woman who he broke up with because she called too often or seemed get emotionally involved faster than he was comfortable with, because she got angry with him over the way he acted, she was always arguing with him about stuff or even that she wanted different things from the relationship, it’s not uncommon to hear ‘That’s why you don’t stick it in the crazy.’ The man is absolved of any responsibility for the break up; it’s not because he was willing to pretend to be on the same page as her regarding the future of the relationship because it was convenient and meant that he could continue sleeping with her, it’s because she was crazy. It’s not because he was unwilling to discuss her concerns. She’s crazy, case closed, time to move on to the next woman without pausing to reflect.

…gaslighting is a term used by psychologists to describe abusive behavior where a person is made to feel as though their emotions and reactions are irrational, even (dare I say) crazy. By constantly minimizing and dismissing someone’s reactions, we make them feel uncomfortable with themselves and cause them to start to doubt their own feelings. If they’re being told over and over again that what they’re feeling is irrational or unreal, that what they’re feeling is somehow out of whack, then they start to accept that maybe it is.

Gaslighting – minimizing their feelings, reframing them as being unreasonable – is classic abusive behavior. It’s telling someone that they don’t have a right to the way they feel because what they’re feeling is wrong. Their feelings or their concerns or behavior isn’t “rational”. Once you take away their right to their feelings, it’s that much easier to manipulate a person into the way you want them to behave.

The trend of labeling women ‘crazy’ is part of the culture that socializes women to go along to get along. When women are told over and over again that they’re not allowed to feel the way they feel and that they’re being “unreasonable” or “oversensitive”, they’re conditioned to not trust their own emotions. Their behavior – being assertive, even demanding or standing up for how they feel –  becomes an “inconvenience” to men and they’re taught not to give offense and to consider the feelings of others before their own.

Read the entire article at http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2012/07/labeling-women-crazy/
And for those still curious about the “why” of this behavior, as in why do some men do it. The Dr. even offers a bit of insight.

I was notoriously self-absorbed. It wasn’t that I thought that I was the greatest thing ever, it was just that I didn’t really stop to spare too many thoughts for others. I was willing to make an effort for others, but only so far as it didn’t really inconvenience me past a “reasonable” point. I didn’t want to have long drawn out conversations about how my behavior made my girlfriend feel and I certainly didn’t want to get dragged into what I saw as unnecessary drama.

As a result… well, I wasn’t willing to consider how others were feeling. When the woman I was dating would try to explain to me how the way I treated her felt,  I would tell her that she was seeing things. She was overreacting to inconsequential stuff. She was being over-sensitive, reading things into what I was saying or doing that just weren’t there.

The subtext to everything I was saying was simple: “You are behaving in a way that I find inconvenient, and I want to you to stop.” I wasn’t willing to engage with her emotionally and address her very real concerns because I was too wrapped up in my own shit to think about other people.

In a nutshell, run run run the next time you run into a guy who constantly minimizes your position.

Be Ordinary

We must be willing to be completely ordinary people, which means accepting ourselves as we are without trying to become greater, purer, more spiritual, more insightful. If we can accept our imperfections as they are, quite ordinarily, then we can use them as part of the path.

But if we try to get rid of our imperfections, then they will be enemies, obstacles on the road to our “self-improvement.”

-Chogyam Trungpa

What Men Could Learn From an Aspie Woman

AKA What men should have been taught in Dating 101

AKA If I have any shortcomings as a person, please blame me; not my vagina

Chapter 11: Even if you think of her as a woman, she might not

She might take the reins too often in bed, in conversation, in the types of things you do with your day. This is not because she is a pushy, aggressive personality. It is that she is a person, not a woman, in her mind.

I had to pull this quote from “22 Things a Woman With Asperger’s Syndrome Wants Her Partner to Know” because it made me think, “Don’t all women think of themselves like this?”

I don’t quite know how to answer to my own question but the question does make me reflect on the self-knowledge I have about some straight males.  There are a number of men who have made it abundantly clear they don’t understand that there are women in the world who think this way. This lack of understanding is especially apparent when it comes to intimate relationships and even more so if the relationship is going south.

The book “22 Things a Woman With Asperger’s Syndrome Wants Her Partner to Know,” is a book that gives tips to those who want to be or are in a relationship with an Aspie woman. The crazy thing about all the tips in the book is, more than a few are as applicable to non-Aspie women as they are to Aspie women.

From the same chapter:
Ideas about gender roles

Gender roles and expectations come from societal norms and are imposed upon us. Some sprang from biological differences, but most seem to spring from illogical mindsets.

Ideas about a woman’s response to gender role pressures

She doesn’t understand society’s gender roles and may be unwilling or unable to conform to them. She has her own idea of personhood that has nothing to do with mainstream views of females. Even if she attempts to confom to that image, she aon’t obey traditional female roles or stereotypes for long.

Ideas about the foundations of relationships

your relationship is your relationship, not society’s, not your parents’, or your friends’, or anyone else’s. It’s a clean slate, to make of it what you will.

I will repeat the last line just to strenghthen the connection between that thought and the next thought I will write about. If this isn’t in Dating 101, then why not?

your relationship is your relationship, not society’s, not your parents’, or your friends’, or anyone else’s. It’s a clean slate, to make of it what you will.:

It seems more often than not, men (women too I guess) tend to not bring a clean slate with them into their next relationship. It’s not just intricate mommy/daddy therapy issues, there’s some flat-out stereotyping about women being done in the dating world.

For example, instead of her being a loyal person who makes up her own mind about things, she is a naive dupe who surrounds herself with people who would lie to and manipulate her. Or instead of her being a straight shooter who says what she means and means what she says, of course she wants a deeper relationship with you; even though that’s not what was expressed by her. Or maybe she’s crying and angry and just in general frustrated with things but no, she’s concoting a scheme (throwing a tantrum) to get you to do what she wants.

Discrimination sucks. Makes you feel like less of a person, makes you feel like you have less choices in life. Which can be demoralizing and can cause resentment, anger and/or contempt.

The most annoying thing about this situation is, the relationship between genders doesn’t have to be this way.

A solution

With that said, if you feel that you are guilty of this, there is a way to correct the habit. Self-awareness and self-regulation are the greatest tools in correcting maladaptve behaviors.

Self-awareness is the ability to “take yourself as an object of attention.” You are able to “sit back and see” your actions as they are: Yes, I did that and I did this; and this is why I did that and this and maybe the reason I did this, this way, is because I allowed my sterotypes about your gender (ethnicity, sexuality, affliations, etc.) persuade the choices I made with you.

That is being self-aware.

Self-regulation, governing yourself with rules, is the thing that helps you not make those choices again. So you become self-aware, and become aware when a stereotype comes to mind. Being aware of that stereotype that is there, you decide if you want to act on it. Examine it, “Am I acting on a bias? Is there any possible way I could be wrong? Even if’ I am not wrong, will going down this road be productive? Am I okay with destroying something and perhaps never having a another chance to have it back in my life if I go down this road?”

Your answers are your own and you may be perfectly content with burning a bridge, that happens. But if you aren’t, in addition to examining thoughts, you also have the space to figure out what your next actions will be that support your new goal.

So what you can learn from an Aspie woman? A lot of things but one of the main things? How to treat a woman like a person.

I’m venting.

KQED’s Forum Talks With Sex At Dawn Author

In societies where women are not shamed about sex, they have just as many lovers as men and fight over their rights just as vehemently as men.

This is what I heard on the radio as I pulled into the parking lot at work.  At that moment, I felt completely validated, gobsmacked and elated. I had to find out who this was and what this show was about.

The man talking was psychologist Christopher Ryan, co-author of the book “Sex at Dawn.” It’s a book that traces the evolution of sexual thought and practices; reflecting on how society and its shape has influenced the bonds of matrimony and relationships between men and women. But you hear more about the book on the show Ryan was on, KQED’s Forum show.

Ryan was on Forum discussing the topic “Are Humans Meant for Monogamy?” A topic that has been looked at often in Western subcultures that investigate ideas about sex and love.

Are Humans Meant for Monogamy?

I suggest you take a listen to the program. Ryan goes over some interesting subjects and one of my favorites is him going over the cultural rules of a hunter-gather society and how that is reflected in the OWS movement.

Another great topic is how having farms and growing crops changed how humans interacted with the world and each other.

And my .02 cents to the person who asks why women aren’t vocal about being promiscuous, even if single. Although a woman can say she is promiscuous and doesn’t want a partner a thousand times, it doesn’t mean they will find a partner who believes they mean what they say or that they will find a partner who doesn’t take casual to mean, I can be an insensitive and inconsiderate person to you.

After awhile you just stop being vocal.

.o2 cents, for real.

How Love And Intimacy Can Work

Where do you stand at with your relationships? Can you initiate a sexual relationship only when there is passion and intimacy? Or can you initiate a sexual relationship where there is intimacy and commitment but no passion?  I guess that’s where the mystery lies with this Triangular Theory of Love, it talks about feelings but says nothing about sex.

Read more about the Triangular Theory of Love at http://www.hofstra.edu/pdf/community/slzctr/stdcsl/stdcsl_triangular.pdf