Why madness knocks at woman’s door

Editor’s Note: The author, Brittany Harris, is a student in the fall 2010 Women’s Studies Program Special Topics course, That Chick is Crazy: Women and Madness, at The University of Akron.

Women are often seen as emotional creatures, and for the most part, they are. Certain races see women as delicate beings who must be catered to every moment of every day. Other societies see certain classes of women, mostly those from the upper and middle, as beings who are to be sheltered and quiet.

It is not uncommon in certain societies for a man to say that a woman is to be seen but never heard. Women are merely ornaments; they decorate the men they are with simply because they are taught to be beautiful at all times. They way they walk, talk, look and behave are delicate and graceful.

White upper and middle class women were educated on which fork to use at a dinner party and how to feed their newborn child. Working was not an option unless it involved doing the dinner dishes and helping the maid with the child.

Any woman who dared to speak her mind and make her voice one that was heard, not just seen, was considered to be mental. She could not possibly be in good mental health if she liked reading and found joy in writing. As a result, she was often given the rest cure or diagnosed with some mental illness she most likely did not have until people kept telling her there was something wrong with her.

Women of color were not as fortunate to have the same privileges of being a housewife or a trophy wife. They had too much against them, including numerous stereotypes and the color of their skin. These women had to work for everything they had and then some. They were not afforded the same opportunities as white upper and middle class women because many of them worked for white upper and middle class women.

They were degraded and looked down upon, thought of as no better than animals and were treated and talked to as such.

Society taught women of color to be strong and independent because in numerous cases, they had no choice but to do so. Then society dehumanized them for not having submissive mentalities and drove numerous women to mental health issues.

Some women killed themselves because they could not face the everyday struggles stacked high against them. Others killed their children or sent them away because they did not want their children to go through what they faced every day. It is tragic that women, who are connected to their children on a more intimate level than the biological father of their children, felt that the best thing for their child was to end their life, literally or figuratively.

Women of all races and classes have one thing in common, madness. It is because of a male dominated society that the stress and pressures of being a good wife, mother, and respectable woman are so high. Not only do women have great expectations for themselves, but the men they are surrounded by do as well.

Though the expectations and the goals may not line up with society, a woman will always have a choice, and with that choice madness will always have the opportunity to knock at her door. Answering the door is an entirely different matter.

Planning a wedding can turn anyone into Bridezilla

Editor’s Note: Author Tammy Giovannini is a student in the fall 2010 Women’s Studies Program Special Topics course, That Chick is Crazy: Women and Madness, at The University of Akron.

Here she comes down the aisle. The music is playing, the flowers are full and fragrant, and all any of their guests can think is, “How lovely she looks.”

But as she progresses up the aisle, you see something green poking out from under her dress. The groom seems to look lovingly at her, but on closer inspection his expression may actually be fear. The parents of the bride and groom seem to be relieved that this day is almost over.

Why is everyone so scared of this bride? Maybe it’s because she is a BRIDEZILLA, the girl who seems to suffer from temporary insanity over, of all things, her wedding.

What is it about weddings that turn women into bridezillas? Many things I am learning as I plan my own wedding can make any sane woman plead temporary insanity should someone press charges when she lashes out. Everything from staying within a budget to having the input of parents and friends can make one tick.

I used to dream of having a fairytale wedding. I wanted a white wedding in a rose garden wearing a replica of the dress from the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast.  I wanted doves to fly as we sealed our vows with a kiss. I dreamed of a reception under the stars that had dancing, a feast fit for a queen and candles floating on the lake next to the dance floor.

Well, I added up my dream at one point in my life. The dress alone was $2,400. With everything else included I would have had to spend close to $10,000. My parents told me, “I love you, baby, but not that much.”

I knew they did love me, but even I had to admit, for one night the price was too high.

So here I am planning my daydream wedding. It’s not much better.

My fiancée and I are looking to get married in Florida. The marriage license there is $93.50. That’s a lot for a piece of paper that says “Yep, I will admit I chose him.”

Next we are picking the location. I found a lovely spot in the Keys that will cost $1,250 for a 1-hour ceremony, officiate included and limited decorations included, and a 30-minute period for pictures and cake.

Well, my parents like this place. It looks pretty and seems safe. My future mother-in-law tells me the place is pretty but asks, can the dogs be in the wedding? I don’t want dogs in my wedding. But she had them, so obviously I must want them too.

And if the dogs can’t be in the wedding, then who is going to be the flower girl and ring bearer? I laugh and say, “No one. I don’t want them.”

So moving on. We need rings.  I have a platinum and white gold diamond ring; we need something to match it. My sweetheart thought the ring was as beautiful as I when he bought it. Now he realizes how much it is going to cost to get the bands that match. Rings for both of us it will cost $2,000. That is for simple bands that match my current ring.

We also need flowers. I want tropical ones to match my beach wedding. Of course those have to cost more than some roses. For birds of paradise and other exotic flowers, it will run roughly $250 for one bouquet, a boutonniere and four small arrangements at the place where we vow to spend the rest of our lives together.

My mom would rather we have roses. After all, that is my favorite flower, and they symbolize love.

Now at this resort we can spend an extra $250 and have dolphins bring us our rings. How cool is that. The kicker? The resort is not responsible if the dolphin loses or swallows the ring. Go figure.

Oh, and a dress. Now I do not want an expensive dress. I want a simple sun dress that I won’t have to worry about getting dirty. Nobody except me likes that idea. You have to have a dress. But why? You wear it once and put it in a box to collect dust. But it is sentimental. But I want something I can use again.

This is my wedding. I want it on a beach, with tropical flowers and our families there. When we get back we can have a reception.

My friends hate this idea. Why would I not include them in something so special? Because it is my wedding. That’s why. I felt it would be rude to say to them I am getting married in Florida, and I expect you to be there.

Maybe we should just elope.

Don’t let society stop women’s evolution with money and sex

Editor’s Note: Author Toccara Gaines Vaughn is a student in the fall 2010 Women’s Studies Program Special Topics course, That Chick is Crazy: Women and Madness, at The University of Akron.

I turn on the TV, and a commercial promoting beer has a sexy woman wearing a low-cut blouse and little shorts advertising how tasty it is. I turn the channel, and a music video about violence has five women in bikinis dancing around.  So I turn off the TV and open a magazine and there sits a woman on the beach with nothing but a towel around her with a milk mustache.

Using women and their bodies to promote products and music has become the norm.  You’ve heard the saying — SEX SELLS!

And yes it does; it sells women. Sex sells women’s cleavage, breasts, butt, thighs, and legs to make money.

The most annoying part of all of this is that women’s body parts have nothing to do with the product.  I understand if there is a correlation, as in the sale of lingerie, but when I see a half naked woman being used to promote shampoo, it rubs me the wrong way.

But the advertisers are not completely at fault.  These women agree to use their bodies to promote products.  Author Zach Bigalke wrote a great story on this very topic.

This brings me to my next point about women losing their significance.  The more women continue to agree to use their bodies to promote business, the more insignificant a woman’s voice will become.  Her body will become her voice.  It will no longer matter what she has to say but only what she looks like.  Her opinion or analysis of the product won’t matter because society will expect her body to do the talking and make it sexy so it will sell.

This trend reminds me of how women in the 19th and 20th century were treated like objects.  Their significance was their ability to make babies, cook, clean, and be a good housewife.

Women in those days didn’t have a voice.  Their intelligence didn’t define them; their domestic ability did.

Men didn’t ask women before they married them, “What’s your take on the economy? How do you think we can improve it?” Instead, they were probably asked, “What’s your take on having kids? How many can you have?”

So women being used as objects isn’t anything new. It has just evolved.  But along with evolution came the choice that women now have to be something greater.

To be or not to be used is our choice.

It’s our choice to cook, clean, smile, and to pose for the camera. It is up to women to come up with more creative avenues for promotion.

Women, let’s think outside of the box so society doesn’t put us in a box.  When you’re put in a box you’re given limitations.

Women fought in the 19th and 20th century so limitations couldn’t be placed on us.  Evolution is growth, so let’s continue to grow and not let society stop our evolution with money and sex.

The Bad Girls Club: Why so bad?

Editor’s Note: Author Hanne-Lore Fisher is a student in the fall 2010 Women’s Studies Program Special Topics course, That Chick is Crazy: Women and Madness, at The University of Akron.

The Bad Girls Club is a reality television show including several different women who claim to be “bad” in one way or another.

Some of the women on the show claim to be bad girls because they are strippers or they take advantage of men, either for sexual purposes or for money. Other women on the show claim to be bad girls because they are violent and they tend to start fights with random people. Finally, some of the women claim to be bad because they do not fit in with other members of society.

Many of these women on the show can be viewed as crazy or mad. For example, Leah, one of the characters, seems to randomly pick fights with the more vulnerable women in the house. She starts arguments over little things that may not seem important to other people, but they somehow seem to set her off.

For instance, on one of the episodes Leah screams at her roommate, Brandi, and decides to switch to a different room because Brandi mentions the fact that Leah had an affair with a married man, which was true. I think that Leah might be bipolar because on the show you can see that Leah seems to have major mood swings. One minute she can be happy and having fun, and the next minute she’ll be screaming at someone and breaking things.

I believe that these women on The Bad Girls Club seem to fall under what sociologists would call the Labeling Theory. This basically means that people act the way society believes they will act. For example, viewers of this reality show assume that these women will act “crazy” and violent, and the majority of the time the women on the show do end up being violent and doing irrational things.

I think the idea of putting women with conflicting ideas — and maybe even conflicting perceptions of reality – together on a TV show is absolutely absurd. I’m sure that the producers of the show know ahead of time that if you put multiple women with violent tendencies in one house, they will eventually end up causing each other physical harm.

This show is like throwing a room full of hungry lions a piece of steak; they will end up hurting  each other to get it. In this situation, the women are basically fighting over who will gain the most attention.

Finally, I believe that the show is solely for entertainment at the expense of the women who believe they are “bad” and will do anything to show people how “bad” they are.

I’m sure this show will stay on the air because apparently people believe it is amusing to exploit women, some of whom have mental issues. These women think they are going to “The Bad Girls Club” to improve themselves, when they are actually exposing how “crazy” they are by means of promiscuity, drug and/or alcohol abuse, and mostly violence.

For more information and character profiles on the women on “The Bad Girls Club”, visit the website < http://bad-girls-club.oxygen.com/about-the-bad-girls-club>.

I am a feminist

Editor’s Note: Author Ashley Ezerski is a student in the fall 2010 Women’s Studies Program Special Topics course, That Chick is Crazy: Women and Madness, at The University of Akron.

You’re not a feminist unless you love mothers. Yes, stay-at-home mom here — party of four– and I’m one of them feminists too!

Don’t get me wrong, some women don’t want to stay home and raise children, and hey,that’s fine! If you don’t want children– then you simply shouldn’t. But I can say for myself that I am a feminist, and I am an awesome mother as well.

My first child was born when I was only eighteen years old. Hell no, I wasn’t ready to have children, but there I was raising one. And so far I’ve done the best I could.

Over the years I have had to endure many looks because I appeared to be a sixteen-year-old with three or four children. At one point I had to stop caring about what others thought and just thought of the look on their faces as a sign of some lingering illness. I am a wife, I am a mother, I am a feminist: Hear me roar!

When my daughter was about six, she shared a conversation with the lady next door. Isabella, my daughter, asked the neighbor’s daughter why she played with baby dolls. The neighbor said because they teach you how to be a mother.

My daughter replied, “Well, babies come out of your vagina, and I am not doing that!”

I can’t help but laugh every time I think of this because obviously I did something right. My daughter at six didn’t feel she had to follow in her mother’s footsteps; she knew she could think for herself.

Wow, I’m one freaking cool mom!

So what makes me a feminist? I take care of my fellow women. I raise my boys to love and respect women, and I raise my daughters to love and respect themselves. Sometimes I worry myself because I care so much,but then you just have to run with it. If you’re passionate about something, it must be important. Right?

During the years of my pregnancies I suffered from something I believed didn’t exist called postpartum depression. Well, I will let you in on the secret, it exists! This illness made me grow up.This illness made me a better mother and friend. This illness made me a feminist.

We think of pregnancy as an illness, but it’s not. Pregnancy can be a wonderful part of a woman’s life, if she chooses.  But it takes more than a pregnancy to make a joyful woman and baby; it takes support. If anything – you must have support. And if you don’t – reach out and give support because trust me, being a mother is often lonesome. I know this because I am a mother, but I understand this because  I am a feminist.

Some like to define what a feminist is by trying to define what they are, and that’s fine. But please do not label me. Labeling goes against the feminist idea. Support your idea of feminism by activism, whatever that may be. Just don’t limit yourself to one idea.

I am a mom, I am a student, I am a wife, friend, lover, a bisexual, daughter, cousin, sister, mentor, and I am a feminist.

How trying to write a blog essay is driving this chick crazy

Editor’s Note: The author, Laura Stuart, is a student in the fall 2010 Women’s Studies Program Special Topics course, That Chick is Crazy: Women and Madness, at The University of Akron.

Writer’s block sucks.

You have this great idea for an essay rolling around in your brain. You’ve mentally sorted out what and where every A to Z belongs. Getting this thing written down occupies your every thought, and you can barely focus on anything else.

You sit down at the computer, a fresh Word document ready to go, a cup of coffee sitting on the desk.

Nothing happens.

It’s enough to make a writer go crazy. I admit that I have had full-on hissy fits over essays that failed to materialize right away. I curse myself, the computer, and the entire literary world for my shortcomings. Sometimes I wish I could just stick a USB cable into my brain and let its contents spill onto the screen. Then again, I’d also be terrified of what that would be.

The little voice in my head tells me that I’ll never make it as a writer, and I might as well go reapply for my old burger-flipping job. If I’m lucky, when 3 a.m. rolls around, I will have managed to scratch up something that I’m sure is pure crap just because I want to get it over with and go to bed.

Once it has been printed, read, and in some cases graded, I refuse to look at it ever again for fear that I will literally die of embarrassment for daring to allow this thing to see the light of day.

Heck, half the time a thing doesn’t get written because I fear that it is terrible.

Maybe it is self-destructive to think that way about my writing. It can’t be that bad, can it? There are probably a lot of folks out there who experience writer’s block and don’t feel the need to whine about it like I am. This being National Novel Writing Month, there’s probably quite a lot of people struggling to write 50,000 words in only 30 days, and turn off the inner editor.

I only have to write a measly page.

I could attribute this insecurity to what Sandra Gilbert and Sarah Gubar describe as “anxiety of authorship” in their chapter “Infection in the Sentence.” They describe the obstacles faced by women writers trying to make it in the male-dominated literary world a few centuries ago. The simple act of being female made it difficult to even get their work looked at, yet alone taken seriously.

The woman’s duty was to make babies and make dinner. How dare she over-exert her fragile female mind by trying to be a writer? Also, what could she possibly write about that’s worth reading about?

No wonder that writers like Jane Austen would often downplay their writing, telling others that it’s no big deal. It’s just some silly little thought, really.

Even today, I still feel like I’m wasting my time trying to be a writer, especially as a woman. It’s especially discouraging when I consider that one of most successful women writers at the moment has met success writing about her abusive boyfriend vampire . . . who sparkles.

Maybe I shouldn’t let it get to me. Maybe I ought to just write, no matter what. I should ignore my inner critic. I should accept the good grades and the praise I get from strangers.

Instead of letting writer’s block drive me mad, I should let writing be my salvation.

Writer for men’s online mag betrays women everywhere

Editor’s Note: The author is a student in the fall 2010 Women’s Studies Program Special Topics course, That Chick is Crazy: Women and Madness, at The University of Akron.

This semester, I took a Women’s Studies course entitled “That Chick is Crazy: Women and Madness.” During current event presentations by some of my peers, one in particular caught my attention.  A male classmate presented an article from AskMen.com called “Crazy Things Women Do on Facebook.”

In this article the author, Emily Miller, a “relationship correspondent” for the site, gives six examples of supposedly crazy things women post on Facebook to trick men.  She goes on to advise men that they should ask their girlfriends to change their behavior if they are doing any of these things.

One such “crazy behavior” that Miller mentions is that “women post ambiguous relationship photos.” She says that posting photos with guys who aren’t her boyfriend can cause others to “question the strength of her relationship with her boyfriend.” Who cares?  If your relationship with your boyfriend is good and he knows it, it should not matter what other people think.

After reading this article and being thoroughly ticked that one of our own would go against us women, I decided to investigate other AskMen.com articles under their “Dating & Sex” tab.

Immediately, another Emily Miller original jumped out at me.  This time it was “Top 10: Cruel Things Women Do To Men.” The article begins with women not picking up the phone when men call and ends with women intentionally flirting to make their boyfriends jealous.  Many of the behaviors Miller writes about can be easily explained without the woman being thought of as cruel.

Emily Miller and the female writers of AskMen.com have betrayed women everywhere. By writing for a website whose primary audience is men, these women are providing information to their audience that makes them – and us – look bad.

I don’t know who you are, Emily Miller, but AskMen.com better be paying you a damn good sum of money to lie about women.  Get a job at Cosmo and stay true to your girls.