Recently my friend shared an article with me called “On Labeling Women Crazy.” This article argues that there is a trend of men in heterosexual relationships calling their significant others or exes “crazy” as a way of controlling these women. The author says that instead of addressing women’s emotions or concerns, many men call women “crazy” or gaslight them in order to simultaneously avoid dealing with these issues and change women’s behavior to what they desire. He explains that calling women “crazy” is abusive behavior that “socializes women to go along to get along” and keeps women “behaving in a very specific and limited manner.”
I strongly urge everyone to read the full article because I think it articulates an extremely important issue that few are talking about. I have seen and experienced this issue, so the article really resonates with me. I’m sure this is the case for many women who read it.
While I fully agree with the arguments the author makes, I have to comment on a couple of things. First, the way the article discusses mental health is problematic. It suggests that if a woman actually is “crazy,” meaning she has a mental health disorder, then she is totally undateable and men have a right to call her “crazy” and move on. While I don’t think the author intended this, I think the article implies it nonetheless.
Second, I take issue with the way the author’s arguments are framed. The article is categorized as dating advice, and the author’s arguments are framed in a way that reflects this. By framing the issue in this way, he lessens the value and impact of his arguments. The issue becomes about how men can have successful relationships, not about how men should treat women in general or the larger implications of their actions. By doing this, a crucial opportunity to address sexism and misogyny in heterosexual relationships is lost.
Lastly, it’s interesting that the article is in the HuffPost Women’s section (there is no Men’s section). This suggests that women are the only people interested in (or in need of) dating advice. More importantly though, it limits the audience of the article. While the article seems to address a male audience, it is in the women’s section, which means it really targets a female audience. Even though I greatly appreciated reading this article and it allows women validation of their experiences, this trend will not change if these arguments do not reach men.
While I take issue with a few elements of this article, it is important to emphasize the positives of the author’s arguments. Men, in heterosexual relationships, do frequently control women and their behavior by calling them “crazy” or telling them their reactions, thoughts, and emotions are irrational or inappropriate. This is a hugely important issue to address, and I thank Harris O’Malley for his contribution to this discourse.