On Calling Women 'Crazy'S

This may shock you, but a 30-something single man recently had a run-in with a chick who was, like, really crazy, brah. This woman, whom he helpfully nicknames "Crazy D," because her name starts with a "D" and she is totally crazy, did a number of crazy things. First, she texted him. When he texted her back, sometimes she texted him some more, and sometimes she even texted him while drunk. (He would text her back the next morning, expressing concern for her well-being.) She once — crazily — confessed to a friend of this guy that she kinda, you know, had a thing for him. Then, when the duo finally arrived at the bedroom scene, she gave him too many blow jobs. Crazy!

"It felt like an odd move," reflects our beleaguered anonymous narrator. "Too much, too soon and slightly desperate. Who blows someone twice on the first date?" Reader, he did not say no.

After administering the wrong number of blow jobs, Crazy D delivered the crazy coup de grâce: "She said she couldn't wait to see me again." Imagine. Imagine how mentally unbalanced you'd have to be to even think of telling a dude who knows that you like him, texts you frequently, invites you out on a date, hangs out with you all day, and has sex with you twice that you'd be open to repeating the experience. Ladies, you're supposed to hurry home and wait by the phone for him to call when he's reached a verdict on whether he wants to see you again! Duh.

So I've been seeing this chick and she's kinda crazy. These are words that tell a lot about the speaker. Barring truly rare circumstances — she's kinda crazy, she has amphetamine psychosis and unplugged her fridge because that's where the secret messages come from, she's kinda crazy, she has come to believe that she is made of glass and is having iron bars sewn into all her clothing, Charles VI-style, so she won't shatter — the observer is rarely sharing his empathetic assessment of a romantic partner's mental health. Rather, in the man's own telling, it virtually always seems that the woman is responding in a normal, human way to some kind of stimuli from him. And getting called "crazy" for it. Whether the stimuli is positive — I texted her and now she wants to hang out! She's so crazy — or negative — I made one little crack about her weight, and she flipped out! She's so crazy — doesn't matter; the dynamic is one of pure manipulation. It's also textbook gaslighting.

Reflexively calling women "crazy" is a habit young men need to learn to break. As a term, "crazy" is entirely of a piece with the long and nasty tradition of pathologizing female emotion (and particularly sexuality). Hysteria comes from hystera, the Greek word for uterus, after all: "crazy" has been a gendered trait in Western culture for thousands of years. The male gaze was for virtually all of human history synonymous with the medical gaze, and men assigned themselves the authority to determine which bodies are sick and which are hale. (In some U.S. states, they still arrogate that right.) Just read Madness and Civilization. Or the chapter on hysteria in The Art of Frenzy. Or Gilbert and Gubar.

What's more astonishing than the fact that this ignorant tripe was commissioned, edited, and published, presumably for the edification of XOJane's largely female audience, is that its author seems to have passed thirty years on this earth without noticing that when you decide to sleep with someone — especially someone you know for a fact likes you — and then tell them equivocal things about how "great" your date was, it's not inconceivable that that person could get the idea that you might like them. That normal people do not know how to read minds. Our anonymous 30-something seems genuinely surprised at his partner's willingness to take him at his word and at his deed and respond accordingly. Who's the crazy one?

Rebound: I Slept With A Crazy Woman [XOJane]