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(Not So) Discreet Misogyny-When Men Call Femmes “Crazy”

“Yeah man, she’s pretty crazy.”

“Don’t get with her, she’s crazy!”

“I’m glad you’re not like my ex.  She’s honestly crazy.”

If you’ve had even the tiniest taste of dating and hookup culture, it’s likely that you’ve heard these sentiments tossed around casually. Maybe you’ve even heard some of these exact phrases.  Maybe once at an all-campus party, you found yourself having a ~deep~ conversation in the bathroom with White Frat Bro #1™ about his “absolutely insane ex-girlfriend”. Maybe White Frat Bro #2™ tried to compliment you by telling you how you’re “sooooooo much less CRAZY” than his ex while smoking god-knows-what in a bong.   

Or maybe you heard similar comments in a different setting. Maybe your respected male professor cracked a joke about his crazy ex-girlfriend during lecture, and everybody laughed. Maybe the head of your human rights club spends meeting time warning others about the “crazy antics” of the girl he dated sophomore year.

And maybe you’re the one who shed a few tears during a breakup, and is now dreadfully anticipating the label of the “crazy ex-girlfriend”.

The point is, the trope of men having “crazy ex-girlfriends” is so common that it exists far and wide outside the confines of White Frat Bro™ culture. This trope has been normalized to the point where you might hear a professor speaking about it without blinking an eye.

 

So, what does this all mean? It means that misogyny has become so commonplace that it no longer rings our moral alarm bells when any man uses derogatory language to describe a woman or femme person.

That’s a BIG problem, and here’s why:

Calling women and femmes “crazy” for displaying emotion, having human reactions, and making mistakes evoke old stereotypes of hysterical women. In the past, men could have their wives locked away with the simple insistence that they suffered from “hysteria”. True, in today’s world, women stuck with the “crazy” label are rarely locked away indefinitely in psychiatric wards. They are, however, pushed unfairly to the outskirts of social, political, and professional circles. To put it simply, the modern trend of calling women “crazy” is a thinly veiled means of carrying on a tradition of suppression.  

And it’s even worse for women who belong to marginalized groups, including but not limited to women of color, queer women, poor women, and women who live with mental illness. Structural biases give White Frat Bros™ (and “well-respected” professors, doctors, lawyers, etc.) the go-ahead to use misogynistic language when describing these women. Furthermore, these same structural biases often prevent women with marginalized identities from being taken seriously when they fight against preposterous allegations of insanity.

So where does this leave all of us? It’s likely that most of the people reading this article don’t condone calling women and femmes “crazy”, and instead opt for more descriptive and less misogynistic terms when talking about another person. But maybe, just maybe, you are one of the class of 100 laughing along when the respected male professor cracks a joke about his “crazy ex-girlfriend”. Maybe you continually say nothing as your best guy-friend moans about his “awful crazy ex”. And maybe, subconsciously, you even find yourself avoiding these “crazy women” in your everyday interactions. So maybe, just maybe, (translation: yes, definitely) you are part of the problem.

 

And what can you do?

You can stop adding fuel to the fire.

It DOES make a difference to refuse to laugh at misogynistic jokes and storylines. It DOES make a difference to shut down misogynistic talk among your male friends. Strive to be more than a performative ally to those who are suffering, and shut down misogyny and inequality at every opportunity.

 

Image Credit: Feature, 1, 2, 3

 

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Hayley is a senior English and Political Science double major at Kenyon College, and an avid napper.  When she's not sleeping, you can usually find her writing and organizing around leftist political campaigns, making music, and/or surrounding herself with animals.
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