If you’re a woman, chances are you’ve been called loca by a man. I certainly have. But where does this “crazy women” stereotype come from? And, is there any truth to it?
First of all, let’s take a look at some of the sources of women’s alleged mental instability. I will start off with the so called craziness that’s actually backed up by scientific evidence: hormonal imbalances. There’s PMS, or Premenstrual Syndrome, menopause, pregnancy and even PMDD – Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder – which is basically PMS on crack.
Aside from physical symptoms like headaches, fatigue, acne, bloating, and weight gain – which are enough to make anyone lose it – these hormonal imbalances can cause emotional symptoms such as mood swings, tension or anxiety, depression, crying fits, and social withdrawal. And if you happen to fall into the 8% of women who experience PMDD, your symptoms are exponentially worse – think Linda Blair here. In other words, we’re not crazy; it’s hormonal imbalances.
Another trigger of our supposed craziness is the ever-increasing demands placed on women, particularly working women. Despite the fact that sixty percent of women in the U.S. are either the sole bread-winners or are earning as much or more than their spouses, the responsibility of housework and childcare still falls mainly on them. Our society teaches women that it’s their job to cook, clean and take care of the kids, whether they are stay-at-home moms or not. And even when the man contributes to household chores and childrearing, the woman still does most of the work.
The pressure of trying to take care of everything and also succeed professionally places a huge burden on women, causing their stress levels to fly through the roof. What are the emotional consequences of high stress levels? You guessed it, a host of behavioral changes: anger, hostility, (more) mood swings, depression, etc. In other words, we’re not crazy; it’s high stress levels.
Last, but not least, our society has conditioned men into labeling women as irrational or crazy when they express certain concerns or react to certain behaviors. In psychology, this is called Gaslighting, and is named after the 1944 movie Gaslight, in which a husband wants to make his wife – played by Ingrid Bergman- believe she is going mad so he makes the gaslights in their house flicker on and off. When she notices it, he tells her it’s her imagination.
Gaslighting is a form of manipulation in which the victim is made to believe they are being unreasonable, overreacting, reading too much into things, being too sensitive – basically acting crazy. The person starts to doubt their instincts, reasoning, and the validity of their feelings and sometimes even winds up apologizing for their “looney” behavior. Women are told they are being too touchy or emotional and are often asked to calm down, relax, or let it go, forcing them to question their sound judgment and back off. In other words, we’re not crazy; it’s emotional manipulation.
Sorry guys, us women aren’t locas, and if you want to live in peace with us, simply follow these three rules: bear with us when our hormones are whacky, give us a hand when our stress levels are insane, and stop trying to drive us crazy.