“Hysterical.” “Overactive.” “Crazy.” These are the words our society uses to label women as un-credible and untrustworthy, and we see this in our everyday interactions as well as well as the very definitions of our culture.
There are many ways you can take away a person’s power, and one pretty efficient way is by taking away their credibility. Women in today’s society deal with this in more ways than one.
I follow a lot of people so this was a tweet retweeted by someone who was criticizing it.
If my daughter ever claimed to have been raped, I would first have a wide series of questions before taking any action.
— IG: @AskCheyB (@AskCheyB) May 16, 2016
This was a blunt and simple statement, and after reading the person’s twitter bio I found out he was a relatively famous relationship expert and a “proud” husband and father. Naturally, the tweet blew up with responses like, “such as?” or even, “please never have a daughter. I’m begging.”
Women live in a world where they are constantly doubted, misunderstood, and discredited. Almost everything that a woman reveals is subject to question; her life, her background, her body, and even her experienced trauma. A woman’s accusation is always met with more doubt, and more need for “sufficient evidence.” All you need to do is watch any famous rape story or accusation blow up and how it is met by the mainstream and social media. How do we live in a world where a man can be accused by over 60 women, and that is still not enough proof to some people?
Why does rape culture exist? Because of the cycle that is feeding it. This is a cycle of men, boyfriends, co-workers, friends, even fathers giving into the sexist assumption that women should not be trusted and should not be listened to. This is a cycle of presumptions that say that every time a woman is speaking out about something, she is overreacting or she is just being emotional. And the tweet I read, shows that this can start as early as a father doubting his daughter. Because something tells me, that if this man’s son got beaten up, he wouldn’t have any questions to ask.
How many times have you heard a man call his girlfriend, or his ex girlfriend “crazy?” There seems to be a very common theme with men using the word “crazy” in a negative way in reference to women.
The use of the word crazy seems like an easy way to dismiss women’s credibility on anything. This ultimately perpetuates rape culture in society. Moreover, there are much worse things to be than “crazy.”
We all experience extreme emotional instability and terrible pain. We all are thrown into a frenzy, and begin doing things that we may soon regret, like compulsively texting our ex. But in that one moment of emotional response, a woman is labeled as hysterical instead of simply going through a hard time. It seems like far often than not, the focus is on the reaction of the situation than the background of the situation.
In Rebecca Solnit’s book, “Men Explain Things to Me,” she shares the history of the word hysteria,
“Hysteria derives from the Greek word for “uterus,” and the extreme emotional state it denotes was once thought to be due to a wandering womb; men were by definition exempt from this diagnosis that now just means being incoherent, overwrought, and maybe confused.”
This history says a lot. Just the fact that women used to be seen as having a disease for their emotion shows the misogynistic ideals that have shaped society’s ideas of women throughout history. This is, unfortunately, still seen today in many ways. Whether it’s male co-workers assuming a woman is cranky because of her period. Or it’s a miswritten female character who is just there to be made fun of for how “unstable” she is. And finally, we see it in the news, when women are begging for people to believe them that they were assaulted, and far too often the rapists gets sympathy.
Personally, I’ve felt many times in the past that I need to be more laid back or “chill” instead of expressing my emotions. I’m a pretty sensitive and reactive person, and always have been. The fact that I’ve always had an anxiety over showing it is a problem, and the fact that almost every woman, young or old feels the same way from time to time, is an even bigger problem.
I’m not saying every man should feel attacked or blamed for ever calling a girl crazy. And I’m not saying they should feel personally responsible for women being raped. But what I do want them to see is the cycle they are feeding into. What I am asking for is to listen to the facts, and to be aware of the simple truth that according to a study by Stanford University, only between two and eight percent of rape allegations end up being false.I want them, and other women to see that we have been socialized to believe women are the least credible source in our society.
And if any man does feel offended from this article, well I think ya’ll are just overreacting.
Arbela Capas is a freelance writer from Cleveland Ohio, studying Journalism at CSU. She appreciates appreciates fluffy cats and good discussions.