The Crazy Woman Archetype.
Women remain silent in fear of being labeled as such.
Women are dynamic and can’t really be defined by one-dimensional archetypes.
Women express themselves.
We all know the labels are BS.
It’s funny because as a woman, I don’t classify male colleagues and friends into types – it’s just Mike or Tom or Fred, not the father, the nerdy guy, or the cute one. They’re all too dynamic to do so. It would be unfair of me to label them in all their layered uniqueness. I respect and admire these people.
One begins to realize the labels fed to us in media through the lifespan are so often superficial, and consequently, they permeate our every day interactions. Woman as crazy girl, bitch, slut, a “goodie two-shoes”, Pollyanna, smart one, the mother-type, the hot chic, the funny chic, the chubby gal, the geek. Journalism at large is a riddled with these subtleties as woman as characters. Sadly, many women’s print magazines across genres play into the stereotypes. (I know, I once read them. Nary a mention of inner strength, knowledge, flaws as beauty in many of them.)
I don’t know any woman that is only one of these characteristics. All of my ladyfriends are all and none of these things on any given day (even our bodies change a bit with hormonal fluctuations – so yeah, mid-month one of us may be a little chubbier.) In reality, those labels flip, less as caricatures of a person, more as human qualities. The “bitch” is actually a confident woman. The “slut” is just comfortable with her sexuality. The “mother-type” is a nurturer who is actually childfree. The “hot chic” is someone who decided to put on make-up and go out for the night. The “goth girl” might have an affinity for dark music, but she volunteers at a pet shelter and is coping with a breast cancer diagnosis. The Pollyanna is an introvert, not meek and virtuous. Permanence is fictional in humanity, as are the fantasy of labels. Don’t box us in.
I write this because it’s very important in healthcare as women begin to share who they are when it hasn’t been very “proper” to do so in society, that we learn to yield (listen and respond with engaged interest and empathy). This approach sends a message that openness about depression, sexuality, body image issues, abuse, loss, grief, self-awareness, and challenges in professional growth as a woman makes us powerful, creative, and genuine, not weak, crazy, or complicated. Classifying people on superficial characteristics in greater society hurts. The arrogant physician can change, as can the bullying nurse. The noncompliant patient just might not be heard by her clinicians on why she can’t afford her medication. For if we label them as such forever, that is what they shall be. So be it the anxious woman who isn’t crazy, she’s in pain.
That’s not to say we can’t or shouldn’t have opinions of people – we can’t like everyone. Labels aren’t about “liking”, they’re about pre-judgment and the communication obstacles they upheld. And yes, there’s a lot of absurdity in media that feeds off the ability to create characters out of people: queue all of reality television and soundbite news. That’s exactly what they want to do! It’s (bad) entertainment, but the bad entertainment could trickle into assumptions about genders & cultures. My point is dig deeper. Think to the top of your intelligence about human interactions. Don’t go for the easy joke…it’s too lazy. This goes beyond a private chuckle between friends.
Back to feminism. Yes, I suspect an initial labeling of a collective female voice in all its idiosyncrasies as “whining” & “complaining” (even by some women). Old habits die hard; but alas, with gender parity may also come communication parity, and for that, we should be grateful for technology. Women with men can finally speak in support of one another. Same for various races and socioeconomic groups. Storytelling can’t be stopped.
It’s not an us and them thing, folks.
It’s a we thing.
Are you ready?
Get out of your comfort zone, or at the very least just be open minded and aware that a shift is happening and how you feel about it. This has everything to do with healthcare through the lifespan and the holistic clinician, and pop culture has everything to do about healthcare too – it’s influenced you whether you admit or not.
Gender bias in research, communication styles in pt-provider relationships, healthcare hierarchy, leadership representation.
For even healthcare was built on patriarchy and as uncomfortable as the realization of that may be to many, the more we can work together to welcome in new patterns of doing, the stronger we will be at healing (note: not cure, heal) more people – man, woman, and child alike.
The holistic clinician with cultural and gender competence will be the leaders we need in healthcare.
Never fear dialogue.
Addendum – May 28, 2013 – just today I’ve come across a few other articles with similar themes. We’re not alone.
Stupid Things Doctors Say To Female Heart Patients
An article on Gender Bias in Healthcare Research
Successful, Female, and a Little Scary? Let Me Translate That For You, It’s Pronounced “Crazy”.
A Message To A Woman From A Man, You Are Not “Crazy”