I’m delving a little deeper into some root ideas surrounding my first novel A White Room and it’s had me thinking a lot about this idea – “women are crazy.” It seems to be a phrase often used as a joke or tease and often times as an insult disguised as a joke or tease, but deep down people often take this idea quite seriously, both men and women - especially in a fight. This is all from my perspective of course, but I love reader feedback so feel free to hotly disagree.
photo ©2008 Christina Xu, Flickr
I remember writing a paper in my first women’s history class where I recounted a scene when at 16 or 17 years old I watched American Beauty with several boys. In the beginning there is a scene where the wife Carolyn Burnham played by Annette Bening is upset because she tried with all her might to sell a house and failed quite miserably. She starts crying but immediately responds by slapping herself in the face and telling herself to shut up repeatedly until she can collect herself and walk away. At the time I remember thinking to myself – I’ve felt like that before – then seconds later one of the males in the room laughed and shouted – “crazy bitch!”
photo ©2010 Nacho, Flick
Technically, the character Carolyn did something that was a bit dramatic and what therapists would probably call unhealthy, but her reaction is relatable to many women, including myself.
Then I thought about all the times I’ve watched male characters in a movie do something that therapists would equally call unhealthy like physical violence or illegal activity to resolve problems. Yet male audience members usually respond with equally if not more intense encouragement of such behavior – “I would put him in the hospital!”
photo ©2008 Smabs Sputzer, Flickr
I’m not trying to pick on the healthy/unhealthy levels of female/male behaviors and how they are used in entertainment but point out how in a setting, such as watching a movie, I felt embarrassed by relating to the female’s questionable behavior while the males encouraged their gender’s poor decisions openly as a positive.
Another interesting example is that the movie American Beauty could easily serve as a comparison of how people deal with the crazy in their lives and when you focus on the husband and wife, they are both acting insane, but the woman’s insanity seems wrong and pathetic whereas the man’s insanity is liberating to watch. Lester Burnham played by Kevin Spacey quits his job and bribes his boss to keep him on the payroll, starts smoking pot, and focuses his concerns on seducing an under-aged friend of his daughter’s.
To be clear, I am not trying to criticize this movie, which I love by the way, or suggest that anyone involved in its creation are misogynistic – they were reflecting societal norms. What I’m pointing out is how these male/female breakdowns were viewed by and portrayed to the audience and how these views are ingrained within our society – which includes both men and women.
What’s my point in all this? I think my point in all this is that even though this norm is somewhat unfair, our society is no longer ruled by one gender, and there is no reason for women to agree with and proliferate this idea – “Women are crazy.”
If anything, these comparisons show that men are crazy too, so for whatever crazy women do have, I say embrace it!
photo ©2011 Bring Back Words, Flickr