If “bitches be crazy,” then bros be lazy because a man calling a woman crazy is one of the most unoriginal, overused, generalized, dismissive labels you can give a woman. It seems whenever a woman is engaging in some kind of irrational behavior, there is always a man there to label her as totally psycho.
Just to clarify, yes some women are mentally unwell, just like some men are mentally unwell, but I’m not talking about those people. I am talking about generally mentally stable people who have feelings.
When a guy gets angry, smitten, or cries, he is called passionate, romantic, and sensitive. When a woman gets angry, smitten, or cries, she is called a crazy bitch. Sure, sometimes relationships can drive you mad. But, having feelings doesn’t mean a woman is “crazy.” It means they are human.
I don’t mind admitting my lovesick moments. The first one was in seventh grade, when every week I would call a boy and hang up when he answered. (Eventually that boy asked me to be his girlfriend then dumped me after two days, yet I continued to obsess over him for three years.) More recently, I’ve spent embarrassing amounts of time on social media looking for clues to whether or not he liked me (word to the wise, if you have to research it that much, the answer is most likely no). Overall, my “crazy” has been harmless stuff that if placed into a rom-com script would be considered charming.
However I have had a few unfortunate situations where my “crazy” wasn’t so cute: It was exhausting, unhealthy and sad. It was the kind of “crazy” that made my busy, usually-mature-adult-self waste hours trying to break into his email accounts because I had an intuitive feeling that he was lying to me again, and then made me scream and cry and throw things when my detective work proved my intuition was right again. My snooping and freaking out allowed him to shift the focus from his actions to mine.
Or the time when he kept texting, he kept calling and he kept wanting to hang out all the time, but then I was made to feel “crazy” for thinking he wanted a relationship with me. It’s OK if a guy doesn’t want to date me, but it’s not OK to call me “crazy” because I interpreted him saying “I really want to see you again” as him really wanting to see me again. It’s easier for someone to tell you you’re acting nuts rather than for them to take responsibility for their actions that are driving you to madness.
And this is where I have to go back and remember the things I learned in my college sociology classes. You may have heard the term “gaslighting” before. If not, gaslighting is a psychiatric term that came from the classic movie Gaslight and is a form of mental abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory, perception, and sanity. Sadly, this has been happening for a very long time. Way back when women were sent to doctors and diagnosed as having hysteria which included symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, being too horny or being not horny enough. It certainly doesn’t help that hysteria is the Greek word for “uterus” which basically tells us the problem is simply having a vagina.
So even if it’s him who keeps saying “Yeah I totally mailed that letter,” and her who keeps finding the letter sitting on the kitchen table, she is somehow manipulated into feeling “crazy” for nagging him. Even if it is him who is continually dishonest with her, she is “crazy” for snooping through his stuff and finding out he spent their rent money at a strip club. Even if it was him that was caught sexting another woman, she is “crazy” for questioning if he is really working late or if he is cheating. (The above situations all happened to friends of mine.)
Calling a woman crazy is a great way to make her the victim rather than the perpetrator. And if you get called crazy enough you start to wonder if it’s true.
So if you’re reading this while taking a break from trying to crack his Facebook password because you don’t trust him after catching him sending flirty messages with a co-worker but he convinced you that “You’re crazy, it was just a joke”—please know you are not crazy. And please break up; I know ending a relationship is often easier said than done but you do not deserve to be with someone who is negatively affecting your mental well-being. I ended things with the guy who frequently lied to me. It wasn’t easy, but the more he called me “crazy” the more I realized the craziest thing I was doing was staying with a person I didn’t fully trust.
And if you’re the one calling someone else crazy, step back and see if you’re doing anything to create the “crazy.” Are they really being outrageous and irrational, or are they simply reacting to your wrongdoings?
And if you think this essay was just a bunch a babbling insanity, feel free to call the author a “crazy” bitch. I’ve heard it before.
This piece originally appeared on xoJane.