Crazy should be a compliment_
Colleen Merwick Head of Brand Strategy at AgencyTK
Nike’s “Dream Crazier” ad with Serena Williams is making headlines because she is calling out the gender bias towards female athletes in professional sports. The spot is positive, moving and empowering to watch whether you are a female athlete or not. Serena is the perfect figurehead because she is known for her controversial clothing and challenging rebel nature.
But when you actually stop and think about that last sentence . . . what society has led me, and others to believe – is this view actually helping to perpetuate the crazy woman stereotype?
She’s a rebel because she stands up for herself. But a rebel is more often negatively labelled as disruptive, insubordinate and controversial. So women who stand up for themselves – aren’t they just like any man who speaks his mind and is called determined or strong-willed? As women we aren’t helping Serena, or women as a whole, by calling any woman who stands up for what they believe in, a ‘rebel’.
Is she not just a strong, independent woman who knows, and owns, her own motivations and desires? By reinforcing the ‘rebel’ label with her catsuit at the French Open, her challenges to refs and her return to tennis after giving birth, aren’t we in fact supporting and emphasising misogynistic and antiquated views of how women in general should ‘behave’?
I believe that Dream Crazier isn’t just for athletes; it’s a rally cry for all women.
Standing up for yourself or others, doing the right thing or something unexpected or just having a bad day – these are all perceived as reasons to degrade women’s accomplishments or behaviour and label them ‘crazy’. Because ‘crazy‘ means we are emotional, unpredictable and potentially unhinged. We’re told we ‘must be on our period’ – which, by the way, is another label used to demean women.
We basically aren’t supposed to bleed (weak), talk about bleeding (inappropriate), get excited (irrational), sad (emotional) or feel empowered (pushy) because all of this is ‘crazy’. #Metoo and #Timesup – those women who came out were labelled ‘crazy‘. But in this crazy world of ‘crazy‘ women, slowly things are beginning to shift. At the Oscars this year 15 women won awards, compared to 6 last year. And one award that stands out is for Best Documentary, Period. End of Sentence. which, although highlights women’s struggles in India with periods and access to menstrual health products, is really saying to the rest of the world that we can talk about our periods.
Periods, like being called ‘crazy’, should be something to be proud of and empowered by. Both seem to equally defy and define women.
‘Crazy’ means ‘stay away or you might become infected instead of inspired’. No woman wants to be called or known as ‘crazy’. Let’s change the definition and the conversation. Turn ‘crazy’ into a compliment, a badge of honour, a sign of respect. ‘Crazy’ is usually confidence combined with bravery. Let’s own the word ‘crazy‘. Period. This is the right time to reclaim it. Because if you’re labelled ‘crazy’ then you might just be on the verge of doing something great.