Panelists explain society’s image of a “mad” woman

Published by adviser, Author: Sam Delauter - Rocket Contributor, Date: March 24, 2016

Everyone has seen it before: whether in real life, film or the media, if a woman’s emotions get the best of her, society to labels her as crazy, leaving that woman to contemplate her psychological status.

On Tuesday, the Slippery Rock University Women’s Center shed light on this issue of stigmatizing women during its panel discussion “Mad Girls: Calling Women Crazy in Pop Culture.” The four-woman panel, which included Dr. Rochelle Dykstra-Crookshanks, Dr. Emily Keener, freshman information technology student Madison Hollins and senior psychology major Ayanna Byers, spent common hour delving deep into the issue of the verbal denunciation of women as well as the double standard our society possesses regarding gender issues.

The discussion began with a historical background regarding how society has previously dealt with women who were “out of step” with the rest of the world.

Women’s Center member Sarah Naughton said women went from being physically locked up to being socially restrained.

While women are no longer jailed for their abandonment of traditional folkways, many feel their genuine behaviors and thoughts are being impeded upon as society attempts to condemn behaviors that contradict social expectations.

So why do we as a society feel the need to fit certain people in to certain categories? Dr. Keener explained that the need for society to fit certain people in certain categories is the phenomenon that is something subconscious.

“You may not realize why someone is rubbing you the wrong way.” Keener said. “We are socialized to have these (categorical) reactions.”

Byers said women make certain boundaries that they are often told to go back into.

“Once we step outside these boundaries, you have people who will consistently tell you what you need to do to be back in your boundaries,” Byers said.

With a historically unconventional presidential election on the horizon, the panel went on to examine the issue in the context of leadership roles.

“The role of leadership is interesting because that’s a masculine domain,” Dykstra-Crookshanks said. “When a woman is then put into a masculine leadership role, she is perceived as bossy, but keep in mind if she were to act feminine, it’s also problematic because then she is not taken seriously.”

There was plenty of discussion among the audience during the hour-long event. One member chimed in to explain his opposing view on the issue.

“When a girl comes in screaming and yelling, then I’m going to call her crazy,” the audience member said.

Another member responded by explaining that instead of writing women off as simply crazy, maybe the two parties should sit down and calmly discuss the situation. There was a general consensus among the crowd that the word crazy is often used as a cop-out to avoid discussion and argument.

The four panelists encourage everybody to become more aware of the issue of gender stigmatizing and act different from your implicit beliefs.


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