Why do we so easily call a woman crazy?
Maybe I am writing this in the aftermath of watching The Hours, and recollecting Mrs. Dalloway and the brilliant, depressed and suicidal Virginia Woolf, which led me to remember Sylvia Plath as well. Maybe I am crazy too, for letting dead strangers and books affect me so much, yet again. But that my mental condition need not diminish the question: why do we so easily call a woman crazy?
Is it because all we see are images of happy women everywhere? Women with straight set teeth and shining hair laugh as they ride a bike, eat a mango, apply face wash, buy a bathroom cleaner, use a new brand of pads – why are the women on billboards and TVs so happy? What is so exciting about a masala powder, so painless about menstruation, so exhilarating about an air freshener that the woman smiles without pausing?
Is it because women are supposed to forget themselves, all the time? Women are the ones who balance career and kids, a woman nurses her husband when she is sick, patiently finds a solution while those around her lose their heads. A woman is always a hero, but one that disappears. She is essential in the background, in the margins, as a shadow in the lives of others. She is supposed to see this position as a privilege; her life of service is happiness because she makes others happy.
So, when is a woman called crazy? When she isn’t happy. When she realizes being selfless isn’t being complete, isn’t love.
And why is this woman called crazy? Why should her unhappiness, her anger be quelled immediately? Because this woman is dangerous. So, her actions are termed irrational, her feelings hysterical, her words emotional. What is wrong with irrationality? What is wrong with hysteria? Why deny emotions? What is life without all this?
What is life if I am not the crazy woman, at least once in a while?
Let me crazy, for a while. It might be reckless, but I am happy. I can almost taste life.
I can never access the genius of Woolf or Plath. But let me have a taste of their madness, oh let me revel in insanity for a while.