In Defense of the “Crazy Girl”

I’ve been thinking about something a lot lately. I’m not sure what got me thinking about it, but I just can’t quite shake the thought, which is this: I cannot, absolutely cannot, stand when people (especially women) are written off as “crazy”. I see this a lot. “Oh, what happened with Jennifer?” “Man, she was CRAZY.” It’s such an all-encompassing shut down. A complete summation of a person with one word: crazy. Crazy infers a lack of connection to reality, a removal of that person from the generally agreed-upon shared understanding that all people have. That person is labeled as unhinged, insane.

I think what riles me up about this word more than anything is that it invalidates the other person’s actions, feelings and perspective so completely. Rarely are people crazy in a vacuum, it typically takes two to crazy-tango. What was going on for that person to be pushed to extreme behavior? What was the “non-crazy” person’s part in the scenario? Were they minding their own business when they were blind-sided? Likely not.

Don’t get me wrong, there are genuinely scary people out there, doing scary things. But that’s not what I’m referring to. I’m taking about the ex, whose reputation is maligned among mutual friends after a breakup, whose perspective is completely disregarded because “they’re just crazy”. The colleague, or friend, or relative who is written off with eye rolls or derisive head shakes, “they’re just being crazy again.”

Also, it doesn’t actually mean anything. Crazy could be, she likes to text you and check up a little more than you’re used to. It could also mean she has voodoo dolls of your ex-girlfriends in her boarded up basement. It’s such a lazy, far-reaching word that essentially means nothing except that she’s not to be trusted. It’s also got such a loaded connotation, right there with, “she’s just  being hormonal” or “she’s PMSing”. It’s female hysteria, reduced to it’s least empathetic.

I haven’t felt “crazy” many times, but the few times were awful. I felt backed into this role, this one-dimensional trope of myself. Maybe I overreacted to a comment that was made, getting increasingly more incensed until I could hear myself becoming unreasonably upset. Maybe it was me trying to come to terms with another person’s sudden silence. We were friends and now we’re not, with no explanation. The texts asking, begging for understanding that seem to pile up until you look (at least linearly) like a “crazy” person. It’s such a terrible feeling, and a difficult position to claw your way out of. The more you try to validate your own feelings, the more unhinged you can come across.

I recently read Emma Cline’s The Girls. It was a terrible book, but I really liked this quote:

“That was part of being a girl–you were resigned to whatever feedback you’d get. If you got mad, you were crazy, and if you didn’t react, you were a bitch. The only thing you could do was smile from the corner they’d backed you into. Implicate yourself in the joke even if the joke was always on you.”

I’m coming to the self-realization that I instantly don’t trust the perspective of a person who will flippantly write someone off as crazy. Who are you to reduce their existence to such a pithy, demeaning word? To me now, it says so much more about the person who lobs the insult than it does about the insulted.

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