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Feminspire | April 18, 2014

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Your Ex-Girlfriend: A Person With Feelings, Not a “Crazy Bitch”

Your Ex-Girlfriend: A Person With Feelings, Not a “Crazy Bitch”

In the third season of Parks and Recreation, Aziz Ansari’s loveably obnoxious character Tom Haverford makes the comment, “Luckily when you’re a guy, you can just tell people she’s crazy” after explaining that his ex-girlfriend broke up with him without an explanation. In the show, the line is comical and ironic because Tom is frequently seen as the one doing ridiculous things when it comes to women (such as when he talks about giving copies of his house key to random girls he meets). But what’s neither ironic nor funny is how true that idea is in real life.

How many times have you heard of a female referred to as “crazy” or a “crazy bitch”? And seriously, what is a crazy bitch? A female with too many emotions? One who wants to talk about her feelings? One who gets mad at her boyfriend for ignoring her/cheating on her/lying to her? Sure, a lot of girls get possessive in relationships, but guys do too. So why is it seemingly more common for girls to acquire the crazy label? And (at least in my opinion) it seems much worse for a girl to be thought of in such a light because of that really stereotypical image that almost immediately comes to mind –– you know, some relentlessly whiny, needy, and incapable girl with her boyfriend’s phone number on speed dial, who’s always picking fights and complaining about one thing or another. That girl. But when a guy is referred to as crazy, what does that usually even entail? Maybe he calls too often or he threatens her guy friends, but there’s really no equivalent to what we think of when a girl is described as crazy in the context of heterosexual relationships.

Someone calling you out for craziness, especially in high school and college, is exponentially worse for girls; it can give you a reputation that makes you seem like the kind of person that guys would want to avoid (because guys don’t want “clingy” girls who speak their minds, of course). But when a guy is referred to as crazy, I honestly feel as though it isn’t even much of an insult since craziness in a way denotes aggression and passion, which are already masculine traits, so why would they be offended by it?

Unfortunately, just like Tom Haverford, guys love to use this kind of terminology when describing women. Not only does it make break-ups seem less embarrassing or awkward, it makes it incredibly easy for them to justify their actions and/or words while pointing out the “erratic” behavior of the girl involved. I wholly believe that both guys and girls are capable of the same foolish behavior in relationships, but it’s much easier for a guy to brush off his wrongdoings and tell his girl to just stop being crazy.

And unfortunately, it kind of works. I’ve had many girl friends vent to me about their dating dilemmas and ask, “Am I just being crazy?” And I’ve definitely wondered the same thing about myself. Should I keep my feelings to myself? I don’t want him to think I’m crazy. I would imagine it has to do with the fact that social conditioning has compelled us all to believe that females are much more dramatic than males, but wouldn’t you think that in 2013, we’d be less inclined to play the blame game according to age-old gender stereotypes? And wouldn’t you think that we’d be less inclined to question our thoughts and words lest we seem mental in the eyes of a male lover? No girl wants to be thought of or referred to as the dreaded “crazy”type, so we oftentimes feel as though we have to keep our mouths shut when we should rightfully be able to speak our minds.

One of the most awesome things about dating or being in a relationship with someone is having the chance to really open up to them about your feelings — all of your feelings. No one should ever feel as though they’d be better off keeping quiet just for the sake of not stirring up trouble, especially if you have a legitimate reason for wanting to address something. Not only that, but associating individuals with genuine mental instability with a false and totally sexist stereotype is ridiculous.

No one should ever prevent you from saying what’s on your mind. If you think you’re being taken advantage of or lied to, then speak up! Believe me, you won’t be a “crazy bitch” if you do.

Written by Nicole Woszczyna

  • http://twitter.com/serencadi Cadi

    If the men I know are anything to go by “crazy” is also often man-code for “my girlfriend is emotionally and/or physically abusive but I can’t admit this because patriarchy”.

  • Dannypan

    While I don’t agree with the “crazy” part, I do agree with the ex-bf calling the gf a bitch. Why? Because women do it too. How often are men called “pigs” and insulted when the break-up is messy? You cannot call men out for insulting their ex-girlfriends when women insult their ex-boyfriends too. It’s just not fair.

    • http://twitter.com/CoreyLeeWrenn Corey Lee Wrenn

      Calling a woman a “bitch” is never acceptable…it’s an extremely derogatory term that is meant to disempower and dehumanize. Consider it the “n” word for women…same for “slut” and “whore.” This isn’t an issue of “fairness,” this is an issue of men wielding age-old stereotypes about women to strip them of their personhood and reassert male power and female subservience. The “reverse sexism” card works about as well as the “reverse racism” card. Women can’t be sexist in a patriarchy, and African American’s can’t be racist under white supremacy.

      • W.G.

        Wait do you actually believe that last sentence or is it pointing out how silly that sounds. Do you actually believe that women can’t be sextist?

        • http://twitter.com/serencadi Cadi

          Women can be prejudice towards men, women can be misogynistic towards other women and patriarchy negatively affects men too, but women do not have privilege over cis-men in our societies is generally what is meant by “women can’t be sexist”. Sexism is more than “sex-based discrimination” in this context, it’s a system power + privilege given to one sex over another. At least that’s how I’ve understood it :)

          • http://www.facebook.com/guffy.xux Steve Smith

            Just cause one lacks “privilege” does not mean one can’t be sexist. But I guess under feminism one can be sexist all they want as long as they are not the “privilege” ones.

      • http://www.facebook.com/guffy.xux Steve Smith

        So much for not being sexist your self.

      • stop

        You realize there are women who get called the n word right? Because they’re surprise, both Black AND women!! You would’ve had a point except then you decided to be fucking racist.

      • Makale

        “Consider it the “n” word for women…same for “slut” and “whore.”"

        …No? These words are easily interchanged between gender and race. The N word is not. Stop being racist.

        “Women can’t be sexist in a patriarchy, and African American’s can’t be racist under white supremacy.”

        Especially when we give women and minorities so much power. Wait…
        Not to mention, us white people still have all the power. And the KKK is still very much a public thing and not in any way hated by every sane person ever. Nope. Not like we’re breaking new ground every year for equality. I hate this argument so much. It always reeks of “I’m shutting this conversation down because shut up.”.

        • phil

          Good point, well said

      • phil

        Couldn’t disagree more. If a man calls a woman a bitch, a slut or a whore then it makes a huge statement about the man. It’s a little naive to think that you can’t be in a minority and not be sexist/racist as well!

    • http://www.facebook.com/georgette.k.1 Mztress Isis

      Oooooh, men are occasionally insulted, TOO. Waaaah, waaaah!

      • Makale

        “occasionally”

        Try “just as much as women”. There is no gender separation in this subject, just individual. Everyone has called someone a name. You have, I have, random person #2149713784 has. Gender plays no role.

        Saying “Oh poor you, getting called a name. CRYSUMOAR!” because a guy said it is like saying “Oh poor you, you got stabbed. Try getting shot, you baby.”. It’s just being needlessly childish and petty. A lesson I wish a lot of people employing this defense would learn.

    • Paul Rivers

      “How often are men called “pigs” and insulted when the break-up is messy? You cannot call men out for insulting their ex-girlfriends when women insult their ex-boyfriends too.”

      Yeah, seriously, how many times do I still hear girls describing their exboyfriends in some of the worst language possible, sometimes even years later? Constantly.

      I can understand an argument that both are bad, but if women are constantly going to vilify their ex’s, stop complaining when men simply do the same thing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/pip.citrus Pip Citrus

        Yes, but dude’s are not systematically oppressed, at least not on the basis of gender. When you call a man a pig, it may not be nice, but you are not saying it with the ability to kill him. You are not saying a word that contributes to thousands of years of oppression. Dude, you don’t get it and you probably never will.

        • Makale

          “with the ability to kill him.”

          Who says women don’t have the ability to kill? Everyone has the ability to kill. That’s not a gender thing.

          Stop helping. You’re not good at it. At all.

  • http://twitter.com/gia1haiti gia elie

    Another comic said that the reason you don’t hear many “crazy ex boyfriend” stories is because while a “crazy ex girlfriend” may leave you a shrill voice-mail or key your car…. a “crazy ex boyfriend”… will usually Kill you.

    • dumdedum

      that was said by donald glover

    • Paul Rivers

      I don’t really agree – I think it’s simply that ex-girlfriends are labelled as “crazy”, while ex-boyfriends are labelled as “assholes” and such.

      I’m not saying it’s the common case, but I know who did *actually* date a girl who was a crazy bitch – she tried to push him in front of an oncoming semi-truck. Not kidding. And his problem is that’s he’s genuinely to nice and forgiving – that’s the kind of guy he is.

      I don’t know what the real ratio is, but you may also remember the astronaut who travelled to another state to apparently kidnap and kill her love interests other woman – shrill voicemails and keying your car are not the max that women will go to either.

  • http://twitter.com/CoreyLeeWrenn Corey Lee Wrenn

    Questioning a woman’s mental stability is an age-old tactic used to justify withholding full rights of personhood to women. Women are simply too “hysterical” or “irrational” to handle it. Of course, the stigmatization that goes along with mental illness helps to silence and control women. The phenomenon of “gaslighting” is another similar form of emotional abuse that pulls on this historical stereotype of women’s inherent mental illness.

    • Phil

      I think if you look carefully it’s men that are controlled. Men are considered disposable by society! Whilst not perfect, women have (rightly) made huge inroads into gaining equality in the work place. There have been no similar inroads into mens equality in the home. It’s far too common that men are denied basic access to children after a separation and it’s a sad fact that society doesn’t really care about men… Because we’re disposable!

  • http://www.facebook.com/georgette.k.1 Mztress Isis

    “Crazy-making” behavior is a tactic frequently used by male abusers. I.e., he will tell everyone who will listen what a lunatic SHE is, resulting in a flood of sympathy for him, and people turning their backs on her. Women have been ostracized, institutionalized, and denied custody of their children because of this.

    • Comments and thoughts

      Been there, experienced that. I refused to stoop to his level, though, and surrounded myself with supportive people.

    • Paul Rivers

      There’s nothing about it that’s less used by female abusers, or just women who are angry at their guy (but maybe not to the extent of it actually being abusive) either.

      My mother (parents got divorced) did *exactly* the same thing to my dad, convincing everyone in our neighborhood and our city that he was some sort horrible human being, when in reality he was a completely normal guy who’s most “aggressive” behavior was standing up for himself in a verbal argument.

      He ended up ostrasized – because while people who would talk to him for a while would realize he wasn’t at all the horrible human being that he had been painted as, they then would go “I don’t want to be in the middle of this”.

      There’s absolutely nothing inherently “male” about the tactic.

      • Makale

        Exactly. This is a HUMAN tactic.

        If you slash my tires in an attempt to get me to stay with you, I’m sorry, but I’ll call you crazy all I want. Because you are. youalsoowememoneyfortiresbutletsnotgothereatm

  • greatledbed

    Here’s some almost comical examples of a crazy girlfriend, in meme form.

    http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/ni5/

    http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/6fz4/

    http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/35q3pm/

    There you go; now you can stop having misinterperatations about this type of stuff, now that you know what people mean when they say “crazy girlfriend” Obviously you haven’t had a boyfriend, so you aren’t really in a position to talk about this subject anyways.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dante.douglas Dante Douglas

      These examples have never happened in real life.

      • Makale

        The first one happens all the time. The dog one probably didn’t happen. The masturbation one is exaggeration to the Nth degree.

  • http://www.facebook.com/christina.barnett.980 Christina Barnett

    Good point. I guess for a boy it would be “psycho stalker” or something…

  • http://www.facebook.com/michelle.paggi Michelle Paggi

    Thanks so much for this piece! I’ve silenced myself out of fear of the “crazy” label and I’ve let harmful gender stereotypes dictate my love life until, let’s see, maybe two weeks ago? I’ve written a blog post about how gender norms regarding dating and relationships have been personally psychologically damaging for me; check it out if you’re interested: http://michellepaggi.com/2013/04/19/my-new-rules-act-like-a-paggi-think-like-a-paggi/

    • http://www.facebook.com/nicole.wosz Nicole Elizabeth Woszczyna

      Glad you enjoyed this! And I LOVE your blog post –– all so sad, yet sooo true. If only we could all travel back in time and give our teenage selves a pep talk!

      • http://www.facebook.com/michelle.paggi Michelle Paggi

        Heck, what about my 25-year-old self who blamed herself for every failed relationship? J/k, I still did that at 26 and 27…Anyway, thanks so much for reading my post! I just launched my blog a week ago and I hope to gain a following, possibly some sponsors so I can make this at least a part time job – I lOVE writing about these topics and I hope I can make a difference.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michelle.paggi Michelle Paggi

    http://ragegenerator.com/pages/comic/167849 –> I may or may not have just made this in response to this article…

  • Honesty

    No…no. women definitely are crazy a lot of the times. Me and my wife differ on alit of things and support each others opinions, but when it comes to 90% of women. Yes, they are crazy loons who make superficial issues big problems.

    • http://www.facebook.com/michelle.paggi Michelle Paggi

      You’ve just entered the danger zone…

  • Soon to be Sophia

    I hate it when people uses that term, makes them look like a jerk no matter what.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pip.citrus Pip Citrus

    When you say that a person is “crazy” or “psycho”, you can really mess them up, especially if they are young. I had genuine mental issues in high school, I wasn’t crazy, but I WAS severely depressed. When one of my first boyfriends broke up with me he told many people that I was ‘psycho’. It really isolated me and made me feel genuinely psycho long after the break up, to the point where I eventually checked into a mental hospital. Calling a person with feelings ‘crazy’ is really dismissive of what could be a real problem.

  • Voice of Reason

    Crazy is crazy, and between the trolls and the feminazis blasting ignorance and hate (yeah, very equal) you’re both right. Or wrong. Does it really matter? Ugly breakups leave resentment. Don’t like the name-calling? Don’t act like you deserve it. And don’t give me that crap about no woman deserves that. If you’re going that far, no man deserves it either. As George Carlin once said, “One standard is fine, people!”

    If you’re taking care of your own business, the jilted ex-lover will be the one to look like a fool.

    Corey, your comments repulse me. How in your right mind can you say that minorities can’t be prejudiced? Maybe you should stop typing and start reading a little more about people, not just what you read on your feminazi sites.

    Hate to say it, I couldn’t blame anyone in power for not wanting to give you, in particular, the keys to society. Men and people of colour would all be killed. It’d be like Hitler all over again.

    Point is, if you’re not the one acting out, you’re not the crazy one. But if you go talking about how you want to kill them, hurt yourself, etc etc etc, even under not-perfect circumstances for the relationship ending, then yes, you do in fact deserve the crazy label, gtf over it.

    And if you’re thinking that in 2013 that gender and race are the way those in power are splitting us apart, then you are as bitter and misguided as anyone I’ve ever seen. Know how they’re splitting us all apart? Check your wallet. Flip through the mindless drivel that takes over most cable TV around prime time. Keep the sheeple too busy to think, keep them easily entertained, lead them to the slaughter…

    Wake the F up and pick your battles better.

  • Phil

    The problem with women is that they have never had to learn restraint and so often go too far and don’t know when to stop. I think women are far more aggressive than society generally considers them to be. Not trying to be controversial but men learn how to show restrain when they are kids at school

  • Anonymous Female

    The crazy exes are just suffering withdrawal from body fluids, sex, love, romance, etc. Almost everything is addictive on earth. I read that sperm is like a drug and it can act as an antidepressant and they fail to mention that it can also have nasty withdrawal effects. The crazy ex is just craving the body fluids and sex and love and all those things that come with a relationship. The crazy people are really just the jerks who broke it off with the chics and people only can move on if they are promiscuous and .not sufferers of love/sex-related addictions. I am a sufferer myself and have been called crazy and even dragged to court over a huge misunderstanding involving my exfiance. Only an idiot would call the “needy crazy {other asinine bullcrap term}” ex crazy if they are exhibiting the symptoms of withdrawal. Go ahead and make your exgfs and exqueerlovers miserable and treat them like crap all you want, but someday there will be a dsm diagnosis for that as well as the heartless cruel cold and asinine ex syndrome that you are all suffering from!.