A while back, an ex-girlfriend told me she didn't like it when the word "crazy" was used to describe women.
She felt that it had become derogatory.
As a straight, white male between the ages of 18 and 49, it was my duty to have a knee-jerk reaction and assume she was making something out of nothing.
But the more I think about it, the more I think she's right.
How many times have you had or heard an exchange like this one:
Guy #1: "Hey, whatever happened with that girl you were seeing?" Guy #2: "Oh, her? Yeah, turns out she was crazy."
When applied to a woman by a man, the word "crazy" has become a catch-all for any shortcoming the woman may have.
Even worse, it is also used to cover up any of the man's own shortcomings.
It deflects any responsibility and assumes that it is commonplace for women to be mentally unstable.
As odd as this may sound, just because she doesn't like you, that doesn't mean she's crazy.
Of course, there are certainly times when the word is justified.
If she wants to introduce you to her parents an hour after meeting you, she's probably a little crazy.
If she talks to her six cats in a made-up language, then that might be a sign to back away.
If she's been to the doctor and is certifiably insane, then yeah, she's crazy.
But I bet more often than not, the term is used so that the guy can save face while throwing the woman under the bus.
"It's not my fault! She's a nut-job! I could never make that work, and I wouldn't want to."
And it's all because she stopped returning texts.
While we're searching for things to get mad at, let's talk about the word "creepy."
I think that's a term applied to men by women way too liberally.
A word that should be reserved for horror movie villains is being applied to innocent (and maybe a bit awkward) men who are just trying to make the first move.
I have a bunch of good-looking female friends who claim they are rarely ever hit on.
The first thing I tell them is they probably just don't recognize it.
If a guy is talking to them, he's probably hitting on them.
It's just the way we are.
But my point is, we hear all the time about how women want to be approached, and they want to be pursued.
But, we also hear all the time about this "creepy" dude who said hello in the grocery line.
Or, we're told about that "creepy" group of guys at the bar who were talking to them just before we got there.
Now, I do need to backtrack a bit.
The guy who won't take a hint and continues to press the issue after it's clear he's getting nowhere is creepy.
The man who follows a woman around wherever she goes and doesn't say anything is creepy.
There are douchey, entitled, control-craving men out there whom I have no problem labeling as "creepy."
And to those guys: Stop f*cking ruining things for the rest of us.
But too often, the difference between "creepy" and "charming" is whether the woman finds the guy attractive or not.
"Saturday Night Live" nailed it a while back with "Sexual Harassment and You."
"Crazy" and "creepy" are not the worst insults you could hurl at people.
But they are reductive, open to interpretation and marginalizing.
In each case, the person on the end of the insult is assumed to be inherently and irreversibly bad.
And to make matters worse, these two words are particularly sticky when it comes to reputations.
Now, if we could somehow just get the actually creepy guys to only go after the actually crazy women, we'd be set.
It would make for some excellent people-watching as well.
New reality show, anyone?