Thursday, November 11, 2010

You think I'm crazy? I got your crazy.

Dear Feminist Legal Theory Blog Readers,

I recently got a hold of a memo that has been circulating, and I think you should see it. It explains a lot.


To: All fellow men


: Words to use to keep women in line

Has a woman recently harmed you in some way or acted as though she was in control? Well, good news: keeping a woman under your control using just your words is easy. Please find the following words men can use to get their way. *Note: these words can and must only be used on women in order to have their full effect. Under no circumstance should these words ever be used against men.


It is one powerful word. By telling others a woman is crazy, you can instantly devalue her and ruin her credibility. This word can be used in a number of situations, but is best used if a woman starts to get emotional or too needy. Exaggerating some of her actions may be necessary. *NOTE: she does not actually have to be mentally ill for you to make use of this word.


This pair of words is extremely useful, and the best part is that no matter how a man acts, these words can never apply. These words can be used to make a woman feel self-conscious, ashamed, and inferior. *NOTE: these words can be used even if there is very little suspicion that she has been at all promiscuous.


This is a versatile word that can come in handy in almost any situation! If a woman is being rude, not doing what you want, rejecting you, or just plain getting out of line, feel free to throw this one in the mix.

By making use of these words, the woman will also catch on and will begin doing some of your work for you. Go ahead, and try how they feel! Good luck!


Obviously, no one really got the memo. But then why does it seems like so many men follow it so uniformly? Radical feminism theorizes that men promote these types of words to oppress woman. I can't disagree with this theory, at least in the case of the use of these words. While I know a memo did not literally circulate, it is difficult to explain just how everyone knows that these words only apply to women and that they wouldn't make sense when used in the context of a man. And its difficult to explain why there is a single understood definition, and why there aren't alternative explanations or definitions for these words. For example, bitch could be a synonym for "a woman that just knows what she wants."

I am starting a new memo, and this one is to all feminists and anyone that will listen. PLEASE STOP USING THESE WORDS TO DESCRIBE WOMEN! They are powerful and promote inequality and the inferiority of women. They hide the potential and important qualities of women. They are useless in our quest for justice and equality.


Betty said...

Great post! What I found especially notable was that you started off with the word "crazy." I don't think that term to devalue or insult a woman has really caught on to the masses just yet, but it is slowly and surely creeping up. "Crazy" never occurred to me as having as deeply of a negative connotation as the b-word or "whore" or "slut" just because I'm well aware of the implications of the latter three, as most people are I'd assume, but don't really see "crazy" being thrown around as often or for as long as the others have. Not until recently when I came across this blog entry:

I really started to marinate on this "new" word and when I stop to really think, I realize that often when I AM called that word, I'd react with somewhat of a twitch or discomfort. With "crazy" being the new b-word, however, I'm hoping that it's only a matter of time before we reinvent that word to put a positive spin on it, as we have somewhat for the b-word, which the feminist movement is attempting to reclaim. I only hope that no new insulting terms develop from there.

Alcestis said...

I second Betty. There is something about calling a woman "crazy" that seems more offensive to me. It's not that I approve of anyone who directs the words "bitch" or "slut" towards a woman, I simply brush that off as someone who is clearly ignorant and crude. However, when someone calls me crazy I do feel personally attacked and devalued. This "new" word is powerful because it's an attack on a woman's mental capabilities versus the "normal" attack on her physical attributes. It's obvious that we as women are not physically the same as men, but we are mentally equal. Moreover, the use of the word "crazy" to devalue and delegitimize women could be the most powerful word to "keep women in line" because, as mentioned, it's does not have obvious or deep negative connotations.

Yazzyjazzy I hope everyone gets your memo!

Rebecca said...

Your blog post made me realize that words used to describe women in a derogatory way are much meaner than any similar terms used to describe men, and frequently used as shorthand for “nuts and sluts.”
That triggered the recognition of the whole “nuts and sluts” defense.
When someone wants to tear down a woman they call her: selfish, spoiled, ungrateful, crazy, gold digging, bad mother, slut, whore, fat or ugly. These are supposed to be the worst things a woman can possibly be.
It presupposes, therefore, that women should be selfless, sacrificing, chaste, thin, beautiful, pleasing, and of course sane.
Do women get called crazy when they are perceived as “causing trouble or inconvenience” to a man? Are they considered unspoiled or grateful, if they act in a way that is “lacking any bothersome sense of entitlement”?
This post has made me wonder if there is a male equivalent of these derogatory terms? I could not think of any equivalent terms for men. Calling a man a “bastard” or “asshole” is not the same thing as calling a woman a “bitch” or a “whore”—you know the old line: “Men are assertive, women are aggressive bitches.”
So sign me up. I got the memo. Time to demonstrate a new kind of crazy. I am unwilling to be subordinated. I am not willing to be a selfless, sacrificing, chaste, thin, beautiful, pleasing, sane women- at least not 100% of the time.

N.P. said...

"Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you." Of course it's easy to brush off the "crazy," "slut," and "bitch" as just words, but they aren't. Crazy, especially, devalues a woman's voice and her intelligence. Going along the historical implications of crazy, we could consider the word "hysteria" and the influence that word had on the perception of women. Hysteria derives from the greek word hystera - and ultimately a woman suffering from hysteria suffered from sexual dysfunction. Hysteria, today, generally refers to a person with uncontrollable emotion - or in other words crazy. Apparently, this concept of women being crazy has not yet gone out of style.

The Crazy Woman - by Gwendolyn Brooks

I shall not sing a May song.
A May song should be gay.
I'll wait until November
And sing a song of gray.

I'll wait until November
That is the time for me.
I'll go out in the frosty dark
And sing most terribly.

And all the little people
Will stare at me and say,
"That is the Crazy Woman
Who would not sing in May."