Lady, You Really Aren’t “Crazy”

Monday, May 21, 2012

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You know, it’s funny, generally when men refer to their exes as “crazy” what I keep hearing is “she had emotions, and I did not like that.”

I think maybe there is some confusion on what crazy is.

Dudes of the world – if you do not return your girlfriend’s calls for a week, and she shows up at your door yelling, she is not crazy. She is angry at you. There’s a difference. “Crazy’ would be if you did not return her calls for a week and she decided she was a lighthouse.

That’s not to say that women don’t refer to ex-boyfriends as crazy as well, but when women say that, the subtext is generally “he beat up a cop. He’s in jail now.” Ashley just referred to Ted Nugent as “crazy” and I snapped, “what do you mean by that?” and she replied “he just threatened to kill Obama. The secret service is following up.”

What men mean when they talk about their “crazy” ex-girlfriend is often that she was someone who cried a lot, or texted too often, or had an eating disorder, or wanted too much/too little sex, or generally felt anything beyond the realm of emotionally undemanding agreement. That does not make these women crazy. That makes those women human beings, who have flaws, and emotional weak spots. However, deciding that any behavior that he does not like must be insane– well, that does make a man a jerk.

And when men do this on a regular basis, remember that, if you are a women, you are not the exception. You are not so cool and fabulous and levelheaded that they will totally get where you are coming from when you show emotions other than “pleasant agreement.”

When men say “most women are crazy, but not you, you’re so cool” the subtext is not, “I love you, be the mother to my children.” The subtext is “do not step out of line, here.” If you get close enough to the men who say things like this, eventually, you will do something that they do not find pleasant. They will decide you are crazy, because this is something they have already decided about women in general.

At that point, I think a completely normal thing to do would be to go out, buy them a rabbit, give it to them, wait until they name it, love it, and form a strong emotional connection with it – see if you can get them to a place where it is their only true friend – and then boil it for stew. Hell, you’re crazy anyway. You can do stuff like that. At least that way you’ll have a new pair of bunny slippers!

No. Not really. The correct response to this is never to think “they want crazy? I’ll show them crazy.”

Nor is the correct response to decide that you can be saner. This is tricky, because trying to be saner when “being saner” means “behaving in a way one specific individual wants you to behave” is cuckoo for cocoa puffs ludicrous. It’s also really difficult. That’s not to say it can’t be done. It’s doable! But it’s going  to require never expressing a single genuine emotion, sizing up every word or action before you express them and frankly, perfecting a good natured smile while people say things you find unbelievably stupid or offensive. Keep in mind – it is extra hard to do these things when someone is behaving in a way that makes you frustrated, or angry, or sad, or insecure, or whatever other emotion has been labeled as “crazy.” Trying to uphold this person’s conception of “sane” will turn you into the emotional equivalent of a smiling, well dressed lithopedion. Everything that animates you and makes you a person will get submerged, until you become utterly pleasant and undemanding and utterly brittle.

So that’s not the correct response.

I suppose the correct response is to realize that if women could get away with calling men crazy all the time, we probably would. It would be sort of great for women to get to go around and say things like “dude didn’t put out once at 4:00 in the morning, immediately after I killed his dog. You know why? ‘Cause he was crazy. Men. They be crazy.” And then we could shrug our shoulders and move on after having dismissed his feelings and abdicating any emotional responsibility whatsoever. That seems great.

I mean, it seems monstrous, but also great, if great is defined as “really easy ways to feel that I am in the right about everything 100% of the time, someone else is the entire problem.” Which, yeah, I think that’s in the dictionary.

When men talk about women being crazy, it’s generally not because a woman is actually crazy. It’s generally because something uncomfortable has happened. And when things that are uncomfortable happen, one way to deal with it, especially if you do not particularly feel like figuring out the root of the problem, is by deciding that the other person must be wholly disconnected from any rational process. That is one way to deal with things. It’s not a reasonable way, but it’s a way. And that is a way people can opt to deal with things, and maybe even a way people love dealing with things, in part because, well, we’re all mad, here. Mad as hatters.

But know that there is a difference between a man who says “my last relationship really wasn’t good for my ex or me” and someone who says “women are just crazy. My ex-girlfriend, especially.” The difference is that the man in the first case is eminently sane.

An excerpt from an article by Jennifer Wright via the gloss

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    I also think - well, what if the ex was mentally ill? That doesn’t excuse “she was crazy” either. I can imagine myself...
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