The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

Is She Really Crazy?

art: abby wilson

When women aren’t taken seriously the consequences can be grave, not only for them, but for society as a whole.

As “Nearer My God, to Thee” radiated through the air, the women of the Titanic were rushed into lifeboats with their children. Deemed as the most valuable cargo; God forbid the women perish, because what would society do without them?

“Women and children first,” yelled the sailors, as water burst through the deck and the ship began to sink. This standard maritime procedure,known as the “Birkenhead Drill,” was coined in 1852 after the HMS Birkenhead shipwreck. Out of the 638 passengers on the vessel, 450 died and all of the women and children were saved. Since then, saving women and children first in all maritime disasters is a universal procedure.

Although the women of the Titanic held superiority when it came to being saved, they were not intellectually respected as equals to men. As the surviving women clung to their lifeboats, they watched the ship in its final hour.

In a 1993 interview, Eva Hart who was 7 years old at the time of the shipwreck stated, “We rode away, and I didn’t close my eyes at all. I saw that ship sink, and I saw that ship break in half… and for so many years people have fought me about that.”

According to the book “Titanic Voices” by Hannah Holman, investigators believed that the women of the Titanic were suffering from mass hysteria caused by the traumatic event, so their testimonies were dismissed.

“They’re crazy” was the general consensus of the public. These women survived the most infamous shipwreck in history. With child in hand, they watched as their husbands met their tragic end; only to be told that their recollection of the events must be tainted. For years, the women were dismissed and made to believe that what they witnessed didn’t happen in the way they remembered. That was until 73 years later when the wreckage was discovered. Upon discovery, it was abundantly clear that the ship had split in two. At last, the surviving women’s testimonies were proven true; however, the majority of the women were now deceased and would never know that what they saw that night was a reality. It’s highly plausible that if the details recounted by these women had been trusted, the wreckage would have been found much earlier.

What makes society so untrusting of women? Throughout history, the patriarchy has used a tactic to keep women uncredible–using their emotions against them to make them look delusional. Women are hyper-aware of their surroundings, not only due to the dangers that they face on a daily basis, but also the standards they need to uphold and their innate devotion to caring for others.

The hypervigilance that the majority of women have been forced to adopt makes us far better at reading people and scenarios than our male counterparts. However, that coupled with our genetic predisposition to be more emotional than men, grants them permission to claim that we are too emotional to be rational. The patriarchy has conditioned society to believe that being emotional is a sign of weakness, but the truth is that it takes strength to understand and listen to your own emotions. Strong emotions are the result of our feminine intuitiveness, which should be encouraged rather than dismissed.. When alarms are going off inside of us, the safest route is to believe that we may be in danger.

Those alarm bells sounded in 17-year-old Riley Whitelaw’s mind when Joshua Johnson, her 28 year old male coworker, made advances towards her while the two were working together at a Colorado Walgreens. He didn’t stop even after she declined his advances. Understandably, this made the teen feel uncomfortable and unsafe. She addressed the situation to her male manager, who did not take her seriously, ultimately leading to her death.

According to other coworkers, this behavior intensified when her boyfriend began working there, which left Johnson feeling jealous. Whitelaw reported this behavior to her manager, but it wasn’t deemed serious enough to change his shifts or give him fewer hours, so the 17-year-old was told she had no choice but to work certain shifts with the grown man who had been consistently harassing her.

On June 11 2022, she was harassed for the last time and tragically, that was the last thing she ever experienced. Johnson brutally murdered Whitelaw in the Walgreens’ breakroom during work hours by stabbing her 42 times and leaving her body for her coworkers to find. A hardworking young woman, who was supposed to graduate high school and go on to study genetics in college, was brutally murdered by the careless acts of two fully grown men– the man who held the knife and the man who didn’t take her concerns seriously.

The disheartening and frustrating truth is that there are millions of Riley Whitelaws. Every single day women of all ages are second-guessed, ridiculed and oftentimes ignored for expressing their perturbations. While the intense emotions women experience help us sniff out danger, our patriarchal society is unable to grasp that, so they deem highly emotional reactions as invalid and crazy.. The male roadblock is still there. In order to protect ourselves, we must suppress our natural inclinations and find a way to express ourselves in a way that men can relate to.

Author and activist Soraya Chemaly believes she has found the key to doing just that. In her book, “Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger,” Chemaly argues that demanding we be listened to will help prevent us from becoming victims. Did the women of the Titanic get aggressive at the male investigators who were claiming they were hysterical? Did Riley Whitelaw raise her voice and forcibly list reasons her concerns should be taken seriously? The answer is probably not, and their endings would most likely be different if they were men.

Women have been socialized to bottle up their anger which manifests into sadness.This is why many of us break down into tears when our anger gets to its boiling point. These emotional tendencies that the patriarchy has deemed to be the acceptable ways for women to express themselves are the same reasons why they are continuing to brutalize women. It’s time that we outsmart them by mirroring their behavior back at them.

“Women should be angry about the violence and fear that inform so much of our lives.” Chemally argues, “Anger is the emotion that best protects us against danger, unfairness, and injustice.” We should be angry that we need to be angry. This alone will fuel women to gain power and respect in society.

We must let go of the societal expectations that we unintentionally propel forward. We must teach our daughters to recognize their anger as anger, and express it in the way that any man would be praised for. Just as Edna in the radically feminist 1899 novel “The Awakening” surrendered herself to the ocean in her defiance to living unauthentically, we must surrender ourselves to our anger.Feel it, trust it and release it.Soon enough, we’ll have them crying.

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Hi! I’m Annie Gleydura, A Magazine’s editor-in-chief. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine. 

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