A Message to Women from A Man: You are not "Crazy"
In his article, Yashar Ali talks about the subtle messages a woman can get from a man that invalidates and shuts down her voice. He calls it gaslighting, after the 1944 Ingrid Bergman film, Gaslight in which the character played by Charles Boyer is working at driving Bergman's character crazy (starts by making the gaslights flicker, then insisting she is seeing things when she notices).
Examples of 'gaslighting' he cites include:
"I was just joking."
"You are so sensitive."
All these comments are intended to deflect emotion and cause the person targeted to mistrust herself.
This is emotional manipulation and I agree with Ali terming it so.
I don't think his essay goes far enough. While it's lovely to see a man talk about this kind of issue in a way supportive to women, isn't it also just a little ironic? I wanted to see how to respond to gaslighting, how to call someone on it. I also wanted to leave a comment, but by the time I got to the article, the comments were closed.
This is what I wanted to say; what I did say when I put a link to the article out on G+ and twitter. When someone tries to gaslight me, I very calmly reply:
"Yes, I am sensitive. This is an important issue. Why aren't you concerned?"
I have gotten to a place in my life--whether by age, experience, serendipity, or all of the above--of a kind of fearlessness. I will speak my peace and I will not be shamed by it. I will listen if you have an opposing point of view, but not to the point of manipulation or rudeness.
I will not be silenced, nor will I silence another.
Be sensitive. Perhaps the antidote to the senseless?