These are two terms that have the potential of a fully-loaded double-barrel shotgun, and can be just as destructive in the hands of the wrong person. Crazy girl. Listen to it. That’s a double dismissal. Crazy means: “out of bounds,” erratic, socially disruptive and possibly dangerous. Girl suggests the woman being described is not acting her age, or is in the very least, not acting adult, responsible, reasonable, in a way culturally acceptable. The term has the crushing weight of a man-hole cover, yet crazy girl gets tossed around like nickels. Why is that? Why so many crazy girls? I have always disliked the term. Seems like bullshit. But yet I’ve known many women who self-applied it.
Then, there is her male counterpart: the permanent bachelor. It’s an equally dismissive term, perhaps, not as distasteful. Permanent is, of course, a measurement of time. Don’t know about you but I prefer to use it retroactively, like, as in permanently deceased. Or as when it’s an immutable fact, like the permanence of gravity. But for us to be so quick to label something or someone permanent seems silly and kinda arrogant. It’s like if we called a kid’s blanket-fort a permanent structure. Bachelor isn’t that bad on the face of it, but it comes coded to mean, “single for a reason.” We used to have “confirmed bachelors,” men who were known to be gay although they weren’t living the life out. And a bachelor pad and a bachelor party, in both cases, the word bachelor lends no improvement, and if anything, it makes the whole thing sound reckless and possibly adolescent.
Crazy girls and permanent bachelors, they’re related as ideas, as labels, as a way for someone in our culture to dismiss someone else.
When do we call a woman a crazy girl? You could say, too often, and we could leave it at that. But seriously, when do we and why? Mostly, when she strongly expresses her opinions, when she’s relentlessly pursuing what she wants, when she has passions, concerns, and an aggravating independence, or maybe when she bolts, basically when she exhibits behaviors that are “un-female” and antithetical to traditional female models of submissive behavior and her implied complicity in her domination. Thus, when she stands up for herself, speaks out, positions herself apart, she’s called a crazy girl and that’s that. (Now, if some woman gets mad at her ex-bf, and after a fight, she burns down his mansion like Left Eye, that shit doesn’t make her a crazy girl, that makes her more than just twitchy. An arsonist is all-the-way insane. Just so we’re clear. And no disrespect to the deceased.)
Why do we call a man a permanent bachelor? In him, do we find an offensive hint of denial as he rejects Nature’s timetables, does he suggest a tempting, alternative path; or is it pitying him, as if he’s a lost cause, fallen away into the permanence of history? Perhaps, it’s one or more, or all of those. It could be a way to point a finger at his rejection of and by others, and how his independence has become his defining characteristic, and thus his social status is labeled permanent like his eye color.
When a man doesn’t cotton to the idea of being king of the castle, he is usually dismissed in the language we use. Think of the house-husband, the stay-at-home-dads of the world. No matter how well they perform in their role, they still aren’t held up as a paragon of masculinity; they are rarely celebrated by society. If anything, they are perfect fodder for shitty rom-coms and sitcom punch lines. Even though they’re home all day, they are noticeably not called kings of the castle. They are a ridiculous creature just like the permanent bachelor and the crazy girl.
If you walk a maverick line in Western society, which has a very wide conservative streak when it comes to family and gender, you must confront the labels others so happily and willingly apply to you. If you make choices that are distinctly different, there are words for your choices. Words have power, this we all know. However, sometimes we overlook or under-appreciate their power to determine how we think, what we decide, and how we view ourselves. Since your subconscious is so powerful, since it is the true driver of your actions, it’s smart to feed it as much love as you can.
Be on the careful look-out for people who casually utter negative words around you, whether it’s to describe you, your behavior, or someone else. You don’t need to be a word cop. You don’t need to correct them, or even tell them that you don’t like that choice of word, unless it really matters to you. But please don’t tacitly agree to their definitions and their labeling of your world. Your subconscious hears those words, too. You have to be careful to laugh off, or redefine, their words so that they don’t undermine your sense of self.
If someone says, “Well, shit, homie … if she did that shit to you, you’re lucky to be rid of her. No one needs a crazy girl in their life.” As much as you may want to agree with your friend, it may even feel good to dismiss her with such a powerfully derisive term, you must resist the temptation. Instead, swap out the word and say to yourself, “Yeah, I guess no dude needs a woman who don’t want him.” It’s not a huge switch. But to your subconscious it can make a huge difference. It reinforces your opinion. It means you weren’t the victim of the whims of a willful child, but rather you recognized that you don’t need a woman, a person who is your equal, because she said, “no.” That shit happens. Move on. See how the subtle rejection of the term crazy girl helps you?
Flip it. Let’s say you’re pining for a guy, but he just won’t extend his hand or his heart. Your friends take this as a clear pattern and a sign that he’s broken or damaged goods. If you agree that he’s “just a waste, a total permanent bachelor,” you are dooming yourself to be the woman who helped a man decide he’d rather spend his life alone. That shit ain’t cool to do to you. Forget about what it says about him. You don’t need to think of yourself as marriage repellant or a bachelor-maker.
Crazy girls and permanent bachelors are labels we’re quick to apply. Like kids playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, with a penetrating prick we’re happy to pin the label on the ass of anyone. But never forget kids can be mean. When others around you want to label the world, if they need to sort things and people into boxes, let them. That’s their prerogative, but you don’t need to go along with it. You can be the one who accepts that the world is the same, if not better, without so many terms and labels for everything. As I often remind myself of the words of my man, Billy Shakespeare, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. It is the thing itself that holds all the wonder and mystery.
I’ll go you one further and say I don’t really believe there are crazy girls. I don’t really believe there are permanent bachelors (well, not until they’re dead). Recent studies have confirmed that 60% of men over the age of 40, men who’ve never been married, still believe they may one day get married. But if they get saddled with some lame term, they might start to believe they are the very thing that everyone calls them. The same goes for the crazy girl. Rather than accept that a woman could have really strong feelings and opinions and that they should be considered just as valid as a man’s anger when he gets emotional, we term a woman a crazy girl, well, eventually she’ll believe that. You call someone a horse long enough he’ll start looking around for a saddle. In every conversation she has with herself, this term crazy girl will color some of her thinking. She might assume that others think of her this way; or worse yet, she will start to think of herself in this limiting and dismissive way.
When you call someone crazy or a situation permanent, and you do it, casually, the ripples affect things you can’t see. By all means we should laugh at ourselves. We should tease each other. But you gotta watch out for what language others use and you tacitly accept. When we’re quick to label things and slap the wonders and people of the world with lazy terms, that’s how you place limits, you corral potential, you restrict possibility, you deny dreams, you set patterns, and in some cases, you fuck a person up.
To all the crazy girls, you may be daffy, impulsive, creative, iconoclastic, impassioned, mercurial, but you are not crazy. (Of course, you could be insane. And if so, you might want to do something about that.) Wanna know who was a crazy girl? Amelia Earhart.
To all the permanent bachelors, you may be independent, a career-focused workaholic, a fun-loving playboy, or still thinking of a lost love, you may be a lot of things, but none of those make you a permanent anything. (Of course, in all honesty, you could turn out to be a permanent bachelor, but we won’t know that until you drop dead. For now, don’t worry about it.) You wanna know who was a permanent bachelor? Nikola Tesla.
Cultural myths, gender stereotypes, emotional biases, shitty labels, and even, comedic tropes, can render your life a sad trail if you let them. Be careful of the labels of others. It’s your world. You probably want to be conscious about how you define it.