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.

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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

by 

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

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.

It’s Not You, It’s Him: Men Who Gaslight


Yashar Ali  may be either a brilliant diabolical writer who wants to get laid or just an insightful guy who likes to be helpful.

Ali’s article “A Message to Women From a Man: You Are Not ‘Crazy'” is one of those rare articles that gets it right and brings to light a topic that many women must struggle with.

****

You’re so sensitive. You’re so emotional. You’re defensive. You’re overreacting. Calm down. Relax. Stop freaking out! You’re crazy! I was just joking, don’t you have a sense of humor? You’re so dramatic. Just get over it already!

****

That dreaded feeling a woman gets when she wonders “Was I right to do or say that? Am I getting too angry about this or do I have the right to be angry over this?”  This nagging self-doubt can suck the confidence out of even the most well-adjusted, perfect woman.

This habit, whether it be because we’re woman and it’s an evolutionary trait or whether it be something that developed via cultural influence, it exists. And unfortunately, it is a habit that can be used against us.

****

Do you ever hear any of these comments from your spouse, partner, boss, friends, colleagues, or relatives after you have expressed frustration, sadness, or anger about something they have done or said?

When someone says these things to you, it’s not an example of inconsiderate behavior. When your spouse shows up half an hour late to dinner without calling — that’s inconsiderate behavior. A remark intended to shut you down like, “Calm down, you’re overreacting,” after you just addressed someone else’s bad behavior, is emotional manipulation, pure and simple.

And this is the sort of emotional manipulation that feeds an epidemic in our country, an epidemic that defines women as crazy, irrational, overly sensitive, unhinged. This epidemic helps fuel the idea that women need only the slightest provocation to unleash their (crazy) emotions. It’s patently false and unfair.

****
Women have a hard time sticking up  for themselves. I don’t mean the act of sticking up for themselves but being convinced they should stick up and keep sticking up for themselves.

It is far too easy for a man or significant other to simply say “you’re overreacting” and expect the conversation to end at that. If the conversation continues, the next steps will be convincing the woman she is also crazy or dependent or [insert defect here]. With all that negative feedback it’s hard for a woman to stand her ground. (And heaven forbid if she cry or show some kind of weakness because then she’s manipulating the person.)

****

I think it’s time to separate inconsiderate behavior from emotional manipulation, and we need to use a word not found in our normal vocabulary.

I want to introduce a helpful term to identify these reactions: gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a term often used by mental health professionals (I am not one) to describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy.

****

Robin Stern Ph.D.  and author of the book The Gaslight Effect: Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Your Truth, writes that “Gaslighting is the systematic attempt by one person to erode another’s reality. This is done by telling them that what they are experiencing isn’t so – and, the gradual giving up on the part of the other person.”

Stern’s evaluation of gaslighting is a little cliche after that though, with her mention of the “Gaslight Tango” which is “the dance you do with your gaslighting partner, where you allow him to define your reality.” Cliched because like a lot of psychology authors, these authors somehow know that we know our realities and the thoughts that make our reality exactly; and because of that, are of course just as responsible as the person doing the gaslighting.

****

The form of gaslighting I’m addressing is not always pre-mediated or intentional, which makes it worse, because it means all of us, especially women, have dealt with it at one time or another.

Those who engage in gaslighting create a reaction — whether it’s anger, frustration, sadness — in the person they are dealing with. Then, when that person reacts, the gaslighter makes them feel uncomfortable and insecure by behaving as if their feelings aren’t rational or normal.

My friend Anna (all names changed to protect privacy) is married to a man who feels it necessary to make random and unprompted comments about her weight. Whenever she gets upset or frustrated with his insensitive comments, he responds in the same, defeating way, “You’re so sensitive. I’m just joking.”

****

Gaslighting can be as blunt as this or…

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But gaslighting can be as simple as someone smiling and saying something like, “You’re so sensitive,” to somebody else. Such a comment may seem innocuous enough, but in that moment, the speaker is making a judgment about how someone else should feel.

****

Ali finishes his article with a conclusion about why women take such treatment and what it means if women continue to take this kind of treatment.

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Why?

Because women bare the brunt of our neurosis. It is much easier for us to place our emotional burdens on the shoulders of our wives, our female friends, our girlfriends, our female employees, our female colleagues, than for us to impose them on the shoulders of men.

It’s a whole lot easier to emotionally manipulate someone who has been conditioned by our society to accept it. We continue to burden women because they don’t refuse our burdens as easily. It’s the ultimate cowardice.

Whether gaslighting is conscious or not, it produces the same result: It renders some women emotionally mute.

These women aren’t able to clearly express to their spouses that what is said or done to them is hurtful. They can’t tell their boss that his behavior is disrespectful and prevents them from doing their best work. They can’t tell their parents that, when they are being critical, they are doing more harm than good.

When these women receive any sort of push back to their reactions, they often brush it off by saying, “Forget it, it’s okay.”

That “forget it” isn’t just about dismissing a thought, it is about self-dismissal. It’s heartbreaking.

No wonder some women are unconsciously passive aggressive when expressing anger, sadness, or frustration. For years, they have been subjected to so much gaslighting that they can no longer express themselves in a way that feels authentic to them.

They say, “I’m sorry,” before giving their opinion. In an email or text message, they place a smiley face next to a serious question or concern, thereby reducing the impact of having to express their true feelings.

You know how it looks: “You’re late :)”

These are the same women who stay in relationships they don’t belong in, who don’t follow their dreams, who withdraw from the kind of life they want to live.

Since I have embarked on this feminist self-exploration in my life and in the lives of the women I know, this concept of women as “crazy” has really emerged as a major issue in society at large and an equally major frustration for the women in my life, in general.

…..

As far as I am concerned, the epidemic of gaslighting is part of the struggle against the obstacles of inequality that women constantly face. Acts of gaslighting steal their most powerful tool: their voice. This is something we do to women every day, in many different ways.

I don’t think this idea that women are “crazy,” is based in some sort of massive conspiracy. Rather, I believe it’s connected to the slow and steady drumbeat of women being undermined and dismissed, on a daily basis. And gaslighting is one of many reasons why we are dealing with this public construction of women as “crazy.”

*****
Read the rest and the comments that follow at  The Current Conscience.

(9/11/12 — Yes, as women are human, I am sure women gaslight men but as I am a woman who has been gaslighted by men, I only felt the need to speak about my own experience as a woman.)

Sapiosexual Is a Word? And Other Stories


So a curious word was in my Facebook feed today. The word was sapiosexual. “What’s this?” you ask. I’ll tell you.

Sapiosexual is “a behavior of becoming attracted to or aroused by intelligence and its use.”

OMG right?

Basically it goes like this:

Me? I don’t care too much about the looks. I want an incisive, inquisitive, insightful, irreverent mind. I want someone for whom philosophical discussion is foreplay. I want someone who sometimes makes me go ouch due to their wit and evil sense of humor. I want someone that I can reach out and touch randomly. I want someone I can cuddle with. I decided this all means that I am sapiosexual.

I feel like this is …  has been the feelings of most people who have a bent towards rationality and logic; however,  never before has this abstract idea been laid out in such a concrete way. (By the way, the word sapiosexual is a neologism.)

And, as so often happens when you (or I at least) discover new knowledge, more intellectual knowledge/information in regards to intellectual love spewed forth. This time in the form of an old(ish) website post about “the needs of an INTP” spouse or mate. It definitely struck a chord with me. Maybe it will with you too.

Below is what I found,  a general gender-neutral statement about what an INTP mate needs. After the jump is what an INTP woman wrote about in regards to her INTP needs in a mate.

Cheers!

-=Eds

IGANOKAMI’S GUIDE TO THE INTP MATE

1. Lots of sex 
I dont think it is just me as an INTP who finds this a very important part of a relationship and the most important physical expression of love in a relationship – it is NOT a selfish act for selfish physical satisfaction. but hell, it is damn pleasing, too

2. Moral support 
It is a tough world out there for INTPs

3. An equal 
INTPs have no wish to dominate, and are crushed by domination

4. Someone who is next to unoffendable. 
INTPs tend to lack tact, but also want and need to be brutally honest with thier intimate partners – they want someone who they can playfully insult, who will then either laugh in thier face or give it right back.

5. Someone who can accept them for who they are and not try to change them. 
INTPs appear erratic to the casual observer in a relationship, for example – they appear to demand solitude one moment, sex the next. Non-INTPs find this VERY hard to reconcile with their typical conception of “love”

6. Someone who accepts the peculiar WAYS they show thier love. 
Be it really, really sappy hopless-romantic type drivel or passionate physical expression, or just a touch or a simple look. The INTP way is very hard to catch, if you blink, you miss it. Non-INTPs tend to want tokens and words, not a slow dance in a room with no radio, not a quiet cuddle in front of the TV at the end of the day, or the other strange and random expressions that INTPs tend to give. [This ties in with #5.]

7. SPACE [as in both physical and emotional space
In case it was missed, I’ll mention it again: SPACE!! INTP men need their free time to pursue intellectual pursuits, and CAN NOT be:
a.) disturbed 
b.) told they dont love thier partner because they spend too much time “alone”, etc. 
INTP men disappear for a while, then come out swinging. this FORCES most non-INTPs to think that the INTP partner only wants them for sex. This is wrong, but if the non-INTP is not capable of #5 and #6, they are forced to believe it.

8. Comforting. [this goes along with #2.]
The world sucks, particularly for INTPs. They are capable of an utterly staggering amount of patience and responsibility, but in the long run, without #2 and #8, the relationship will ultimately die, or the INTP will DIE a very real death. With #2 and #8, an INTP can take a spectacular amount of abuse, responsibility, and patience in life, as long as his partner supplies #2 and #8 in sufficient quantities.

9. An intellect. a person who can hold their own in a debate. 
The words “you always think you are right!!” are the LAST words an INTP wants to hear from their mate. The INTP wants debate! Wants intellectual stimulation! If they doesnt get it at home, #7 becomes very very very important. If their mate can not handle #7, there will be PROBLEMS. If the mate can supply #9, the INTP will be very happily occupied with their mate for a long, long time.

10. Someone to learn with. [This goes with #9]
Someone who is interested in learning and intellectual stimulation. The INTP needs someone who they can learn with and enjoy the mysteries and adventures of life with. Someone who can understand their interest in the esoteric, show appreciation for their interests, and even join them in these interests, or introduce them to new ones. 

11. Someone capable of self reflection and self analysis. 
Often the INTP finds that they are the only one “growing” in a relationship, the only one who can see the problems in the relationship. This usually forces the INTP to be the one to change, to be the one to compromise for their partner. Because many non-INTPs have no true ability to self reflect the non-INTP thinks they are ALWAYS right. The INTP spends their life examining themselves and their relationship to see what they need to do to make it work. So they spend all their time critically analyzing it, and the mate does nothing but demand that they change. This will eventually lead to the spiritual DEATH of the INTP, if not the actual PHYSICAL death of the INTP. To avoid this, the INTP person NEEDS a mate who can examine the relationship WITH them, so they can grow TOGETHER

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Take Some Time for Self Compassion Tuesday


Earlier this year, Dr. Kristin Neff was featured in a New York Times article about self-compassion. If you’ve read my series, Dealing With Anger Mindfully — 6 Steps, you will be familiar with Neff and her work since it is featured in step 3 of the series, Do Self Compassion.

The NYT article illustrates the connection between self-compassion and improvements in a person’s health (depression, anxiety, eating and more).  With that said, it seems like the commenters/readers of the article were still a little skeptical about the ideal of self-compassion, calling it another word for self-indulgence.

Luckily Neff made a video about self-compassion. After watching it, do you understand the difference between self-compassion and self-indulgence?

Music Filler – La Roux


(Old post that I just fixed.)

I was in a musical wormhole when I landed on the group La Roux. La Roux is an English synthpop band comprised of the singer Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid, who does not perform in live performances.

Jackson’s outspoken ways and androgynous look has made a splash over in the UK and most recently the singer has been adopted as the muse for the designers Viktor & Rolf.

The act has been added to the revived Lilith Fair, did Coachella, and are currently on tour in the United States.

In May2o1o, La Roux with Major Lazer put out a free mixtape called LAZERPROOF (free meaning give us your email address and we’ll let you download this) that you can get here.