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.

The Big Fat Feminist Critique in The Middle of The Room

Brought to you by the words Autism, Female, and Tech World — Eds

Okay, Feminism, It’s Time We Had a Talk About Empathy


Growing up with autism is a never-ending series of lessons in how people without autism expect the rest of the world to relate to them.


‘Don’t be so direct, don’t you know you’re being insulting?’ ‘Put yourself in her shoes — when are you going to develop a sense of empathy?’ Invariably, the autistic behaviour is marked as less-than, called out as needing to change. So we adapt; we learn to keep our “abnormal” attitudes and behaviours to ourselves in the hope of blending in,  and when we discover communities where, by chance, we fit in a little better without having to try so hard, we cling to those safe spaces like a drowning man clings to a lifebuoy.

I stumbled into my first such space when I was eight, and its name wasFidoNet. I didn’t think of myself as a programmer back then, just a girl who liked fractals and science fiction and BASIC on my IBM PCjr, …. In a very real sense, I did most of my growing up online.

Nobody on FidoNet ever told me ‘no girls allowed’ — or even implied it, at least to an extent that I might have picked up on — and as a result, the assertion that “technology is a boys’ club” has always been foreign to me. Sure, I was always one of a scant handful of girls in the after-school computer or science club, but none of that mattered when there were NASA missions or flight simulator games to geek out on.

I have since been made painfully aware that my experience is atypical. Every time, it has been a woman who has done so. Every time, it has been a lesson in how the woman I am talking with expects the tech world to relate to her and other people like her.

Ironically, I have been discriminated against in the tech world because of my gender; I just didn’t notice until it was brought to my attention long after the fact.

What does leave me feeling snubbed, however — not to mention “scapegoated for the endemic misogyny in our field” — is being told that talking about my overwhelmingly positive relationship with the tech community is nothing more than a callous announcement of ‘fuck you, got mine.

What I’ve got, and what I wish the rest of the “women in tech” community who rage against the misogyny they see everywhere they look could also have, is a blazingly single-minded focus on whatever topic I happen to be perseverating on at the moment. It has kept me awake for days puzzling out novel algorithms and it has thwarted a wannabe PUA at a conference completely by accident. It is also apparently the most crashingly successful defense against attempts to make me feel inferior that has ever been devised. When I’m someplace that says on the label that it’s all about the tech, so am I. I may have come by it naturally, but it is a teachable skill. Not only that, it’s a skill that transforms the places where it’s exercised.

The “women in tech” experience is not monolithic — not for the women who feel uncomfortable in the tech community, and not for the women who feel comfortable in it, either. None of our stories are universal, but when we look at any landscape of stories from enough of a remove, we begin to see patterns. Right now, the dominant narrative about women in tech is overwhelmingly woven of antipatterns. We know a lot about how to go from problems to bad solutions, but if we’re going to make a tech community where people feel welcome, we have to figure out how to go from problems to good solutions — and disparaging women like me as gender traitors makes those of us who aren’t too socially thickheaded to know better far more reluctant to speak up so that there can even be a narrative about amelioration patterns. This isn’t “fuck you, got mine,” this is “damn you, why won’t you let me give you what I have?”

Read all of it at https://medium.com/dear-blank/bd6321c66b37

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.

What is Karma?

karma, you missed some peopleKarma is one of the words that you hear often; but, if you know what karma means, you rarely hear it used correctly. (Unless you use Reddit.com then karma has a whole different meaning.)

When you hear the word karma, it’s usually used to mean:

A force or action, by nature or the universe, that is vengeful towards a so-called or alleged social rule breaker.

“Tameka Raymond’s [the ex-wife of the singer Usher] son is declared brain dead, and folks are saying karma got her.”

A equal return, by nature or the universe, on an action done by the actor.

“I’m a true believer in karma. You get what you give, whether it’s bad or good.”

A way for one to perform self-flagellation for guilt.

“Suffering eco-karma for deciding to take a cab this morning. Gridlock and late. That’al teach me.”

(FYI all these statements were found within seconds of each other via Twitter.)

All in all, it seems like karma is some kind of vengeful phenomenon. All fine and dandy when the situations bandied about are as deep as the latest top 40 pop song. But what about this type of assertion of “karma”?

On the Puzzle Peace of Mind website the question below was asked and even though the question does not say “karma” outright, the code word is “punishment.”

“In trying to reconcile Buddhism with autism,  I was under the impression that in Buddhism, my son (who has autism) is being “punished” for something he did in a past life.   I couldn’t accept that of course.  I was given another theory.  Perhaps my son chose his current path, to live a life in a disabled body, in order to learn a lesson from the experience- to gain further enlightenment.  Any merit to that theory?”

It was directed at Dr. William Tuladhar-Douglas, at University of Aberdeen, a lecturer in Anthropology of Environment and Religions and the director of the Scottish Centre for Himalayan Research. One of his areas of study is Mahayana Buddhism.

Tuladhar-Douglas give one short answer and five long answers.

Annotated short answer:

“No, for a Tibetan Buddhist it doesn’t make sense to say your son has chosen a rebirth conditioned by autism in order to learn on his own behalf; but it does make sense to say that he has chosen a rebirth conditioned by autism in order to teach both others and himself. The difference is very important: only a being who has fundamentally altruistic motives can choose their own rebirth.

…the causal conditions that give rise to his particular birth are far too complex for any ordinary individual to assess. Popular beliefs may blame difficult lives on past misdeeds; but Buddhism certainly does not support that belief.”

Of the five long answers by Tuladhar-Douglas, it is the first two that may be the most important to understanding the idea of karma.


The first thing to get out of the way is the “it’s all because of past karma” theory. This is a kind of fatalism. …. While Buddhism does use karma to explain some events, it prefers common sense explanations. For example, injuries caused by ordinary natural causes (cutting your finger while preparing vegetables) are not attributed to karma (though the inattentiveness that led you to slip might be). Diseases are caused by dietary imbalance, bacteria and so forth, and the appropriate response is eating better, bed rest and fluids or what have you.

And two:

For Buddhists, it is the intention behind an action that generates karma, not the act itself. Past mental states – greed, anger, envy; courage, compassion, gentleness – bear fruit in present circumstances. Encountering present circumstances with mindfulness and compassion bears positive fruit in future circumstances, as well as advancing a person along the path to freedom.

Another way of saying what karma is can be found on the Access to Insight website, via an article written by Thanissaro Bhikkhu on karma.

“Buddhists, however, saw that karma acts in multiple feedback loops, with the present moment being shaped both by past and by present actions; present actions shape not only the future but also the present. Furthermore, present actions need not be determined by past actions. In other words, there is free will, although its range is somewhat dictated by the past.”

Karma, you’re doing it wrong

The third answer by Tuladhar-Douglas really gets to the heart of why the current way of thinking about karma can be seen as negative.

“A second theory to reject: “Disability/poverty/infant mortality and so forth is always a result of bad karma”. From (1) it may well be the case that some other causal factors are involved (such as post-natal mental disability triggered by disease); but much more importantly, the causal relations that bind all life together are so incredibly complex – taken across millions of individuals, undergoing millions of rebirths – that a simplistic explanation that blames a present difficult circumstance on some past moral failure is taken to be a sign of meanness on the part of the speaker.”

And, this way of thinking can even be destructive of self and others. Also from the Access to Insight website.

“In the eyes of most Americans, karma functions like fate — bad fate, at that: an inexplicable, unchangeable force coming out of our past, for which we are somehow vaguely responsible and powerless to fight. “I guess it’s just my karma,” I’ve heard people sigh when bad fortune strikes with such force that they see no alternative to resigned acceptance. The fatalism implicit in this statement is one reason why so many of us are repelled by the concept of karma, for it sounds like the kind of callous myth-making that can justify almost any kind of suffering or injustice in the status quo: “If he’s poor, it’s because of his karma.” “If she’s been raped, it’s because of her karma.” From this it seems a short step to saying that he or she deserves to suffer, and so doesn’t deserve our help.”

Karma is not fate, it is not vengeance and it’s not a very sexy concept unless you are into karmic feedback loops and correcting behaviors so they don’t happen again. Also, a better way of seeing a karmic feedback loop is:

“The nature of this freedom [karmic freewill] is symbolized in an image used by the early Buddhists: flowing water. Sometimes the flow from the past is so strong that little can be done except to stand fast, but there are also times when the flow is gentle enough to be diverted in almost any direction.”

The water is the karmic feedback loop. We can at times find ourselves able to divert the karmic loop and other times do nothing but let the karmic loop happen.  And even when you are letting the karmic loop happen, the knowledge that you know the loop is happening in the first place is the first step in learning how to divert the loop.


“If you’re suffering, you try not to continue the unskillful mental habits that would keep that particular karmic feedback going. “

Hopefully by now, you are well-informed on what karma is and hopefully you see your suffering or sometimes the suffering of others as a karmic opportunity.

And right now you have a great karmic opportunity to help others by spreading this post. If you see someone using karma in way that describes fate or vengeance, send them a link to this. Not only are you helping squash the misunderstanding of karma, you may also be helping someone begin their journey to diverting their karmic loop. (Also, by sharing, you are saving my sanity…)