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Fahckmylife's Blog
Crap adult, OK human.

B****es Be Crazy

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We all know of the trope of the mad woman, the mad woman in the attic, hidden away for the ‘good’ of those that ‘care’ for her and herself.  She can’t be trusted.  She’s erratic, emotional and just basically an intense mess.  She’ll just set fire to the gaff and try and kill everyone.  And yes, this is Jane Eyre, and yes it is Bertha, an inconvenience, easily labelled as mad and swept away as if just a minor problem stemming from feminine insanity, despite being massively mistreated.

The same can be said for the main character in Charlotte Perkins Gillman’s short story The Yellow Wallpaper, in which after the birth of her child a woman is forced into isolation in her room, away from her child and husband.  Despite the fact that she most likely is suffering from post-partum depression she is labelled as hysterical, as if this is an inherently weak female attribute, and the story follows the decline her in mental health.

Mental health issues are clearly important, regardless of gender, as some disorders are demonised more than others in the media and on a societal level.  However, what I want to look at here is the specific treatment of women and mental health, and how from a personal experience, as well as objectively the treatment of men and women in this respect are very different.  The above examples that I have already used highlight this but it wouldn’t be a far stretch to think of a variety of ‘crazy’ lady stereotypes used in contemporary film (Misery, Wayne’s World, Psycho…) that can be seen as echoes of the cultural milieu and how society views women and mental health issues.

‘Hysteria’ was a blanket term coined during the 1800s  to describe what male doctors perceived as overly emotional and distressed females.  It was used to describe women who displayed symptoms such as sexual desire (how dare you have a libido or needs!), ‘a tendency to cause trouble’, irritability and other peculiarly termed ‘symptoms’.  Today many of these women would most likely have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, amongst others, but this formed the backbone of what it is to be considered female and where the problematic issues of the construction of women as ‘emotional’ and ‘irrational’ come from.

How does this have anything to do with us now I ask?  Well, I think it makes it easier for society in general to view women as inferior because of having feels.  At some point in your life you have heard somebody call somebody crazy, right?  You’ve heard some shitbag guy you know talk in graphic detail about this girl that he rode up the hole and how she was ‘crazy’ now and stalking him.  You may or may not have believed him, but he said and he felt entitled to say it.  In fact, it’s a lot of this talk that helps us deem women to be inherently weaker and that makes it easier to demonise them.  Realistically, if you look at a lot of these situations where men say a lot of their exes were ‘crazy’ or some girl was constantly in contact with them, there are two sides to the story.  It is easy to dismiss someone’s feelings, or use it as an excuse, if they have served their purpose to you.  You can easily lead someone on, exploit their feelings and then when their expectations do no align with yours write them off as being ‘crazy’.  I’m not saying this is always the case, but as a girl and knowing what people have said about me when I’ve been relatively normal and from listening to stupid menz, I can tell you that it happens very frequently and it needs to be something that we move away from.

I’ll give you a modern and personal example.  There was this girl I knew a few years back.  She was a beautiful and clever girl but she had a lot of problems and was at times difficult to deal with.  She could be mean and toxic and stole, amongst other things, but she clearly needed help.  She had a drinking problem and was extremely lonely.  To top this all off she was at times overtly sexual (literally no judgement here – just saying with this combination of behaviour I bet you can guess where this is going).  Everyone in the area knew her and knew what she did.  She was a constant source of entertainment for people, with her ‘crazy’ antics, which whilst I couldn’t condone her for (she went too far several times at stuff regardless of her issues) I felt bad about because to me anyway, it was very obvious she was in a lot of pain.  What I found disgusting was the fact that so many people were not only cruel about her but cruel about her whilst also trying to have sex with her.  In fairness, a fair few of them did, but even then she was still demonised despite the fact that these disgusting menz were exploiting her (I’m not removing her agency here) by having sex with her and then slagging her off.  The fact that they had intentionally sought out sex (some of them with girlfriends) with this messed up girl and then were cruel about her, contributing to idol gossip in a small community, pissed me off immensely.  Were they not worse and taking advantage of her?  Ah, it’s grand like – she’s just a crazy slapper.

So what impact does this have me personally, other than being angry with the hypocrisy of how women can be treated?  Imagine, for a second, that you are very conscious of the perception that women are viewed of as being irrational.  This is not something that men are generally conditioned into believing, so please bear with me.  So, imagine again, that you know that you have be careful about expressing emotions or wants and feelings without coming across as being a ‘fucking pyshco’ or ‘freaking out’.  Imagine that you try and vocalise wants and needs, that are completely rational and you try to do it in a very even levelled tone.  But nobody listens.  So you say it again.  A tiny bit louder.  Still nobody listens until you inevitbaly explode and feed into this irrational sterotype.  The content of what you are saying makes sense.  You are reasonable but when you’re called ‘craxy’ to your face or snorted you start to doubt yourself.  ‘Am I justified in feeling this?’ you ask yourself. It is constant.  The element of doubt in your own convictions, because it is easy for someone (usually male by the way) to write off your feelings means that you are always concerned with what you want, how you say it and whether your concerns are legitimate.

Many women go out of our way to not be thought of as crazy at the best of times – let alone when we have mental health issues.  In my experience, telling people you have mental health issues (particularly in relationship situation) gives them ammunition to minimise your feelings, make you work harder and in extreme cases gaslight you.  I know writing here that I have anxiety and depression issues, as well as possibly another disorder which I suspect but have not checked it out yet), probably just adds fuel to the fire but I know enough at this point to know that my feelings are real and the things I ‘blow’ up over are as the result of exhaustion.  I should not doubt my feelings but phrases such as ‘I think you’re a manic depressive’ (I’m not), ‘stop being crazy’ and ‘I thought you were strong’ as well as ‘you fucking psycho’ have been specifically used to disarm me in a conversation where I was either looking for support or for help with a compromise in the relationship.

You can say that men are treated the same in relation to mental health issues.  I agree that there is a stigma for men regarding this also.  I believe that Irish society does not want to, or cannot deal with the emotional aspect of,  mental health issues  but I cannot see how anybody can excuse the recent case in Cavan where mental health issues were used as a ridiculous defense for Alan Hawe murdering his entire family.  If it were a woman, would that have happened or would she be demonised?  Because we all know bitches be crazy…

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One Response to “B****es Be Crazy”

  1. Wow, how patronising. Perhaps, you don’t know and that’s fine but this is usually my way of writing all I think about a subject without editing in 45 minutes. If you found it through my Facebook which is pretty much the only way I show it… I say that to some extent.

    Also my point is that we need to move away from… ‘Believing or letting people talk shit about other people and then women and men look at stuff the same way. It’s always easy to say a woman is crazy! Anyway, it a part of an argument, a mere morsel, but you know what are your specific criticisms?


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