Au Lecteur

That’s what she read – June 1

Posted in Feministing, That's what she read by aulecteur on June 1, 2013

I read a bunch today but got stuck on this one about how women are often shutdown by emotionally manipulative jerks. Huge kudos to the author. This is a fantastic piece.

Why Women Aren’t Crazy,, Sept 18, 2011

This article uses one of my favourite terms for emotional manipulation: gaslighting. I learned this term years ago, probably in that second-year women’s studies class I took as an elective while doing my undergrad in Mass Communications. The term spoke to me because a) it’s from a movie (Gaslight, 1944, starring Ingrid Bergman), b) I’ve been gaslit my whole life. Growing up I was always told that I was too sensitive. Countless family dinners ended with me leaving the table to cry in my room. I ran away from home (to the backyard) when I was eleven because I felt so emotionally about the uprooting of a tree in our backyard. I remember feeling scared that I was so upset. I didn’t want anyone to know I was freaking out about a tree. I probably thought obviously I’m too sensitive if I’m this upset about a tree (was it even about the tree? I don’t know), and because we didn’t really talk about feelings in my house, I didn’t know what to do about it and nobody helped me express myself.

I relate to an example in this article. The author talks about a friend who worked for a boss who made comments like “Can’t you do something right?” or “Why did I hire you?” and when she reacted and told him those comments weren’t helpful, he told her to relax, that she was overreacting. I was in a similar situation for 2 years, enduring the abuse of a boss who would cut me down at every turn, nothing I ever did was right. The author says “Abbie thinks her boss is just being a jerk in these moments, but the truth is, he is making those comments to manipulate her into thinking her reactions are out of whack. And it’s exactly that kind manipulation that has left her feeling guilty about being sensitive, and as a result, she has not left her job.” – Yes. Exactly. Every time my boss (full disclosure: it was a woman) cut me down, I thought it must have been something I did; don’t take it personally, it’s about the work. And so I stayed for 2 years. Two years of discounting my feelings because I must just be too sensitive. And because I didn’t have the tools to deal with my emotions and the stress, I drank a lot. Ah, avoidance.

Another more recent example of how my lifelong experience with gaslighting affects me today. After I blogged That’s what she read yesterday, a friend, a feminist, texted me that I should be proud of him for not making a comment about how my feministy post was anomalous against the other most recent posts, which are all recipes. He writes:

“You should be proud of me. I had enough self restraint to not comment on your blog post about all your other posts belonging in the kitchen ;)”

Obviously my clever friend was joking. If I had reacted to him as I felt, he would have said it was a joke. The winkie face meant it was a joke, that I was to take no offence. The point I’m getting at is that after years of being told I’m too sensitive, I second guess my reactions to things and do what I think the other person wants instead of being true to myself. I constantly defer to others because I lack confidence in what I want because I’ve been treated as irrational my entire life. But don’t even listen to me because, you know, I’ve been on my rag for like 20 years, so you know, bitches be crazy.

And that sarcasm? Yeah. I’ll work on that.

Long story short, gaslighting. Don’t do it. Just be respectful of other people’s feelings. If you say something rude or insensitive – or something you wouldn’t say to a man – and she responds standing up for herself, please don’t ask her to sit down and shut up.


The Case For Vegetarianism Delivered By A Toddler, NPR, June 1, 2013

Something fun now. This is a video of a three year old who has been asked by his mother to eat octopus gnocchi. But octopus are animals…and if we eat them, that means they’re dead. Chickens are animals, cows are animals, pigs are animals…It’s a very rational argument why he doesn’t want to eat the octopus dish. Parenting win at the end.

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