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About illness, Feminism

Don’t call me crazy

I wanted to write a post about the way women are referred to as “crazy bitches” – often post-breakup – and all the things that are wrong with this.

But then – lo and behold – someone let me know about this Huffington Post piece, which already says a lot of what I wanted to say – and, most amazingly, it was written by a man! (Harris O’Malley, who does somewhat questionably refer to himself as a ‘dating coach’. Side-eye).

I’d love you to go read it, but here’s some highlights:

“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.” These words encapsulate what society defines as the worst possible things a woman can be. Slut-shaming is used to coerce women into restricting their own sexuality into a pre-approved vision of feminine modesty and restraint. “Bitch” is used against women who might be seen as being too aggressive or assertive… acting, in other words, like a man might. “Ugly” or “fat” are used — frequently interchangeably — to remind them that their core worth is based on a specific definition of beauty, and to deviate from it is to devalue not only oneself but to render her accomplishments or concerns as invalid.”

I did not know the label for this thing called ‘gaslighting’ and I am glad I have learned.

“By dismissing a woman’s behavior or concerns as crazy, we inadvertently take part in a behavior known as “gaslighting.” Named for the classic George Cukor movie, 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.

Even when it’s not. Especially when it’s not.

Gaslighting — minimizing their feelings, reframing them as being unreasonable — is classic abusive behavior.”

This is a great point too:

“Casually, even reflexively calling women crazy and the stigmatization of “crazy” (i.e., inconvenient or uncomfortable) behavior has become a way of trying to keep women behaving in a very specific and limited manner. It perpetuates the madonna/whore dichotomy — that women are either submissive, demure and sexually restrained or irrational bitches on wheels, the emotional equivalent of riding Space Mountain after five shots of Mescal.”

So while the piece is kinda written in a “I am a man who is here to help other men understand women more (subtext: so we can bone them)” tone, it has some good bits and is worth a read.


About writehandedgirl

Sarah is a writer who is passionate about social justice, feminism, politics, and cats. She is a columnist and poet and currently lives in Nelson. You can follow Sarah on Twitter (@_writehanded_) or read more of her writing at



  1. Pingback: Proudly presenting the 68th Down Under Feminists Carnival! | Ideologically Impure - January 4, 2014

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