If the abusive people in your life have, at one time or another, called you crazy, you're not alone.
Labelling a woman as crazy is a powerful tool that men have had in their arsenal for centuries. And it's a little confusing: when a woman is clearly sane and healthy, why in the world would someone lie and say that she's crazy, unstable, and even dangerous?
Kate Moore is on the podcast again with Anne, discussing how things haven't really changed all that much since Elizabeth Packard's era. Listen to the BTR podcast and read the full transcript below for more.
They Say We're Crazy to Silence Us
In Elizabeth Packard's day, being outspoken was literally a symptom of insanity:
Any educated or assertive woman was seen as liable to go mad, even a woman who simply read. I sort of found the records of the insane asylum of the era and a cause of madness in that time was reading novels. So, any woman who's using her brain, who's using her tongue, was seen at risk of madness and was liable to be sent away just as Elizabeth was. So absolutely, her strength was the reason that her husband wanted to dispatch her to the asylum.Kate Moore, author of The Woman They Could Not Silence
Gaslighting an entire society into believing that women who think and share their ideas are actually unstable and mentally ill is a very effective tool in keeping women very quiet.
They Say We're Crazy to Avoid Accountability
Rather than own up to their own abusive or harmful behaviors, men can simply use the justice system against women by convincing those in power that the victim is crazy (and it's not very hard to convince others that women are crazy, since the odds are stacked against us):
I've had readers contact me saying how haunting they found Elizabeth's story because similar things have happened to them. For example, your police are called because of a domestic violence incident. They don't help the woman, they talked to her husband, and they say if she's causing you trouble, we can make arrangements to have her taken away to the mental hospital. This was from 2017, a reader emailed me about that situation. I personally have interviewed people from the 1980s, for example, where an abusive husband got his wife sent away to a mental institution for several months, his word against hers, and they believed him because she was sent away. Kate Moore, author of The Woman They Could Not Silence
They Say We're Crazy Because it Keeps Them in Power
Kate talks about how cooperation with the people in power was the only way for a woman to be considered sane.
This is just another way of saying that as long as we allow misogynistic, patriarchal systems and people to control us, we have a degree of security. Oh goodie, they won't throw us in an insane asylum.
They say we're crazy because ultimately it's what keeps men in power. Anne wholeheartedly advocates for women to boldly stand in their truth and speak up for justice, refusing to comply with abusive systems and relationships.
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