The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

Michele Bachmann is many things but she’s not crazy

Bigoted, ignorant, malevolent…I could go on. But calling a woman in power “crazy” just because you disagree with her is harmful to all women. Not to mention abelist.

Today alone I have seen dozens of posts (many from feminist sources) rejoicing in the result in Iowa last night that left Bachmann behind, and I’m with them. However, deciding to laugh about how “crazy” she is and say shit like “Now you can go back to the loony bin” is totally unacceptable. 

I get it, she sucks, the stuff she says is terrible and terrifying. But when you call a woman who is attempting to make her voice heard “nuts” and “psycho” you are actually furthering the default retort for all women who speak out and fuck people off. The retort is always around how hysterical and “batshit” they are.

And yes, those things get leveled at men who fuck people off to, but usually in the context of a slew of other adjectives around how “archaic” or “uninformed” or “bigoted” he is. Usually as part of a deeper discussion on his politics. It is very, very rare for a man in power to simply be written off as “crazy” the same way Bachmann has since she came on the scene. Even if those men spout identical views (and much worse).

Left wing and liberal people should know better. I expect to be (and have been dozens of times) called “crazy” by socially conservative right wingers and Christian fundamentalists, because writing me off as crazy for Being A Woman With An Opinion is clearly logical if you take the view that I’m unsexing myself in doing so, and I should just shut up and let the (white) men do the talking.

But left wingers and liberals (should) hold progressive, feminist, oppression-averse values. And part of that is thinking critically about your internal monologue and default responses to things, when pretty much everything we are socialised to do hangs on deeply rooted (often subconscious) misogyny. It’s hard, and I personally know I will never stop untraining myself from problematic habitual stuff, but knowing that calling women in power “crazy” because you want them to stop talking is not rocket science guys.

10 responses to “Michele Bachmann is many things but she’s not crazy

  1. danylmc January 5, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Bachmann’s main economic policy was to ‘withdraw the US from the global economy’. That’s crazy. She’s crazy. It has nothing to do with her gender, or disempowering her, or wanting to shut women out of political debate. It has to do with her ideas. They’d destroy her nation’s economy overnight. They’re insane.

    She’s not the only crazy person in the GOP race. Ron Paul wants to abolish the US Federal Reserve and value the US dollar via gold reserves. He’s also crazy. Utterly insane – and people on the left and the centre right routinely refer to Ron Paul as being crazy. American Prospect Magazine simply calls him ‘Ron Paul – Crazy Person’. (http://prospect.org/article/ron-paul-crazy-person)

    Bachmann’s gender doesn’t disqualify her from being dismissed as crazy if her policies are, ipso facto crazy, and to claim otherwise is good old-fashioned special pleading.

    • cranapia January 6, 2012 at 12:27 am

      danylmc:

      We’ve sharply disagreed on many many things. I choose not to make unfounded and impertinent statements about your mental health. It’s a non-trivial distinction.

      And since you brought up Ron Paul – damn right I think many of his policy ideas are (at best) cranky. His claimed ignorance over the racist swill published over his signature is literally incredible; and even if you’re willing to extend him the benefit of the doubt, it makes him incompetent to run a jumble sale let alone a country instead of racist liar. .

      • Lucy Stewart January 6, 2012 at 11:15 am

        “And since you brought up Ron Paul – damn right I think many of his policy ideas are (at best) cranky.”

        In the interests of comparison, I was watching Piers Morgan interview Paul on CNN last night (I hasten to add that I did not have control of the remote) and one of the questions was “Many commentators think you’re crazy, what’s your response to that?” (All the *other* GOP nominees, of course, being plainly mercenary, apart from Huntsman who has IQ-tested out of the race.)

  2. Lucy Stewart January 5, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    How about, “Michele Bachmann subscribes to a number of policies which have an orthogonal relationship to reality, and gives the appearance of being delusional about her chances of success (and a lot of other things)?”

    • Tansy January 5, 2012 at 3:53 pm

      “An orthogonal relationship to reality” – awesome. I need an excuse to use this phrase in conversation.

    • Hugh January 6, 2012 at 8:26 pm

      Or just “Her policies are unrealistic / impractical”. Works for Paul too.

      • Lucy Stewart January 7, 2012 at 1:24 am

        Yeah, but “unrealistic/impractical” is true of nearly all the candidates. Bachmann has a habit of story-telling – e.g. “lesbians trapped me in the bathroom!” “a woman told me Gardasil made her child retarded!” – which goes above and beyond. Either she’s a cold-blooded liar who tells those stories because she thinks it will get traction with her base, or she genuinely believes them.

        Paul has similar habits – “I saw them throw a baby in a bucket to die!” – but usually sticks to well-worn right-wing mythology, c.f. the bucket, rather than making shit up off his own bat. (This gets him into trouble when people ask mean questions like “Which hospital was this at, exactly?”) Other candidates are usually *obviously* doing it as a political calculation, or are engaging in traditional hypocrisy, e.g. Santorum’s “medically necessary abortions are all lies except for my wife’s but that wasn’t an abortion because it was really medically necessary.”

        Now, Bachmann is hardly the only person ever to let her worldview get in the way of the facts. But the extent to which she does it – and I think then genuinely believes it – has to be indicated somehow, and “unrealistic” doesn’t quite cut it.

  3. Gossipy Moz January 5, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    “does not appear to be operating in a reality-based framework”

    There is, of course, a MythBusters T shirt with the appropriate slogan on it: “you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts”. The more I look at the US political scene the more I think their left-right political axis should be more like a dandelion – the stalk on the left, then out at the right hand end things go insane and it splits into a multitude of divergent paths, none of which bear any resemblence to the rest of the spectrum. You can take that metaphor further if you like.

  4. Craig Ranapia January 6, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Left wing and liberal people should know better.

    No – non-douchebags should know better regardless of their political ideology. It’s entirely possible to disagree with Helen Clark or Paula Bennett (or Julia Gillard or Angela Merkel) without being a sexist fuckbag. As you say, it’s not rocket science.

  5. Hugh January 6, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    I partly blame Jon Stewart. Remember his “rally to restore sanity”? He didn’t invent the idea that right wingers are insane as a group, but he sure as hell did a lot to promote and mainstream it. And Jon Stewart is a very influential guy.

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