Are we just crazy?

Someone on my FB linked to this article called Why Women Aren’t Crazy. Basically, the article says that people who tell women they are just “being over sensitive” or “can’t take a joke” or “overreacting” are being “gaslighted” by the person saying it – which is essentially emotional abuse.

Best episode of Wife Swap...EVER.

The term, the author explains comes from this:

The term comes from the 1944 MGM film, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman. Bergman’s husband in the film, played by Charles Boyer, wants to get his hands on her jewelry. He realizes he can accomplish this by having her certified as insane and hauled off to a mental institution. To pull of this task, he intentionally sets the gaslights in their home to flicker off and on, and every time Bergman’s character reacts to it, he tells her she’s just seeing things. In this setting, a gaslighter is someone who presents false information to alter the victim’s perception of him or herself.

Here’s what I’m thinking… I totally agree with the author and think I’ve fallen victim to this recently (and many times in my past) but on the other hand, the term can be abused very quickly. Example of both:

Supportive: Recently a friend of mine who I briefly dated a while back made 2 or 3 remarks that I took as him hitting on me. Usually I just tell him to not be inappropriate because I am happily almost-married and we just move on. This time, however, I complained about it to my fiance because I am starting to get a bit sick of the passes. Uncharacteristically…my fiance messaged the friend telling him to step off. This opened up a bit argument between the friend and I where he told me I was just “overreacting” and obviously didn’t “get the joke”. Instead of saying to him “No! You’re just saying that because you don’t want to seem like the bad guy!!” I said “I guess…” and went back to reread the conversation 30 – 50 times to see if I could pick up on the joke while being aware that there was supposed to be one (I couldn’t). So… he got away with it. This is a case of gaslighting.

Unsupportive: Last week my fiance and I were talking about something, and he said something that normally I would have just laughed at. This time, however, I broke out into tears and told him he was a horrible person. He said “are you getting your period?” which threw me into a fit of rage screaming “DON’T DISMISS MY FEELINGS BECAUSE I GET MY PERIOD!!!!!!!!”……… he said “okay! okay! sorry!” and apologized about a million times. This was DEFINITELY a case of overreacting and being too sensitive to an issue. I can’t speak for all women but I do tend to be irrational and overemotional sometimes… sometimes, I am indeed crazy.

When I think critically about myself and my reactions to issues I can definitely see both sides. What about you? Occasionally crazy? Or victims of sexism once again?

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Katie is a graduate student from Canada studying the environment and systems theory. She also loves dinosaurs and baking cupcakes. Follow her on twitter @katiekish

1 Comment

  1. November 14, 2011 at 4:49 pm —

    The thing I like to remember is that when we have those bursts of emotion, we ARE just being hormonal – the guys too! I(a guy) have had those moments where somebody says the wrong thing at the wrong time and I burst into tears too. I’ve had whole days where I feel like I’ll cry if someone looks at me sideways.

    Emotions aren’t rational and are clearly products of our chemistry but since they influence our actions, they need to be reacted to considerately. I do believe women get the worst comments about this. Instead of blaming their periods though, we should make it inclusive all just blame that damn Chemistry!

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