In “A Message to Women From a Man: You Are Not Crazy” Yashar Ali introduces a new term for the feminist project — “gas-lighting”:
Gaslighting is a term often used by mental health professionals… to describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy.
As he goes on to explain, the term comes from a film in which a deceitful husband vying after his wife’s riches intentionally attempts to make her believe that she is going insane. Ali points out that this is a particularly conscious and devious example of something that people do to each other all the time:
“You’re so sensitive. You’re so emotional. You’re defensive. You’re overreacting. Calm down. Relax. Stop freaking out! You’re crazy! I was just joking, don’t you have a sense of humor? You’re so dramatic. Just get over it already!”
…Do you ever hear any of these comments from your spouse, partner, boss, friends, colleagues, or relatives after you have expressed frustration, sadness, or anger about something they have done or said?
…this is the sort of emotional manipulation that feeds an epidemic in our country, an epidemic that defines women as crazy, irrational, overly sensitive, unhinged. This epidemic helps fuel the idea that women need only the slightest provocation to unleash their (crazy) emotions. It’s patently false and unfair.
…I think it’s time to separate inconsiderate behavior from emotional manipulation, and we need to use a word not found in our normal vocabulary.
Ali goes on to argue that gas-lighting is usually unintentional, not some vast male conspiracy, but that this is only evidence of how deep and pervasive the problem is. Ultimately, he suggest that the solution is “about unlearning how to flicker those gaslights and learning how to acknowledge and understand the feelings, opinions, and positions of the women in our lives.”
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