By: Megan Graves, Columnist
Have you ever been called crazy? Have you ever tried to express your emotions to your partner and had them tell you those feelings aren’t valid? That you’re just “unstable?” Did you know that this is a form of abuse?
The term “crazy” has been used to invalidate women’s feelings for a long, long time. Back then, however, the term used was “hysterical,” or “hysteria,” and it was a medical diagnosis. The word “hysteria” actually stems from the Greek word for uterus, because in Ancient Greece, the uterus was thought of as a wandering creature that created health problems.
Symptoms of female hysteria included faintness, insomnia, mood swings, outbursts, nervousness, sexual desire, sexual frustration, fluid retention, shortness of breath, and just kind of speaking your mind around men who weren’t so cool with it.
For treatment, women were thrown into asylums, given hysterectomies, and, more often, prescribed “pelvic massages,” during which their doctors would bring them to orgasm using their fingers. Due to the overwhelming amount of hysteria diagnoses, there were a lot of pelvic massages being given, and it wasn’t long before the stupid, creepy hands of these doctors began cramping up, probably. Technological advances meant that these doctors could “treat” patients more quickly — which meant they could “treat” a greater number of women.
Thus, the vibrator was born. So, you know, silver lining.
My point with all of this: women have been deemed irrational and crazy for centuries. Words like these have been used to invalidate our opinions, keep us out of politics and the workforce, threaten us, and ensure our spot as second-class citizens.
While we aren’t still being diagnosed as hysterical by male doctors who totally swear the only way to fix it is for them to grab us by our (ahem), we’re still being invalidated.
Every time someone calls you crazy, they are undermining your emotions and you as a whole. It’s a form of gaslighting — defined as, “ a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality,” per Psychology Today.
It is, as I mentioned earlier, a form of abuse.
Common examples include:
- When you have evidence or reason to believe that your partner has cheated on you, yet they flip the conversation in a way that makes you feel guilty for bringing it up,
- When your partner hurts your feelings and tells you that, “You’re always causing a fight” when you try to discuss it
- When we shame survivors of sexual violence by telling them it’s their fault instead of placing blame on the attacker..
Women are deemed crazy so frequently that it’s become a common descriptor.
“Yeah she’s hot, but she’s f*cking crazy.”
“We broke up because she’s way too crazy.”
“I’m worried they won’t like me once they realize how crazy I am.”
Replace “crazy” with “aware of her/my emotions and unwilling to maintain a situation which perpetuates her/my unhappiness,” because that’s what it really means in these cases.
If someone calls you “crazy,” they’re telling you that they don’t want to put forth the time and effort to hear you out and understand what you’re feeling. They don’t care. It’s easier for them to do whatever they want without holding themselves accountable — “I’m not wrong for hurting you, you’re wrong for being hurt.”
It’s a power move, and it’s something you should run away from as fast as possible.
It’s suffocating to be stifled when you try to express what you’re feeling. If someone is making you feel that way, simply ignore them and move on with your life. If they persist, don’t hesitate to block them and/or seek legal help. If they’re willing to perpetuate one form of abuse, there’s not much stopping them from perpetuating multiple forms of abuse. We need to take gaslighting that seriously.
The bottom line here is that you don’t ever need to feel guilty for having emotions, for being hurt or feeling uneasy. Own how you feel. Remove people from your life who make you feel negative and don’t apologize for it. Who you are and what you feel are valid as hell, and you don’t have to change for anyone.