Women are crazy.
There it is— one of the most repeated statements of all time.
A. You’re talking to a new guy and get on the topic of past relationships. You might ask him about his ex-girlfriend, and what does he say? “She’s psycho.”
B. Your best friend has been sharing every detail about her run-ins with this same guy who has been leading her on for weeks. You try to act interested and offer positive reactions, but what you’re really thinking is, “She’s acting so desperate. She needs to stop making such a big deal out of everything.”
C. You get in a fight with your boyfriend. By the end of the argument, it has been established that “you’re just being dramatic.”
D. Finally, everything on the outside appears to be going just fine, but you’re feeling sad or irritated for what seems to be no particular reason. You feel like crying or lashing out, and maybe you let yourself actually do it. Then you might ask yourself, “Am I PMSing… or am I really just crazy?”
We really take a beating from these all-too-familiar situations. It has become so common that we have even come to believe it ourselves. When someone brushes off a woman’s seemingly irrational behavior by the simple statement, “Women are crazy,” we don’t so much as bat an eye. We accept it.
In an article in the Huffington Post, male writer Yashar Ali, describes this emotional manipulation as “an epidemic in our country that describes women as crazy, irrational, overly sensitive and unhinged.”He offers the term “gaslighting” as an explanation for this phenomenon. Gaslighting is manipulating someone into thinking that their reactions are so far off-base that they’re insane, according to the article.The term is derived from the 1938 play Gas Light in which a husband attempts to convince his wife that she is insane by manipulating small elements in her environment (including dimming the house’s gas lights) and insisting that she is imagining things.
This form of manipulation is similar to the emotional abuse women in our society experience on a daily basis, some more seriously than others. In some cases this manipulation is intentional, but more often, it is an unconscious behavior. Because women are consistently dismissed and undermined, their feelings and emotions are not taken as seriously. When we feel like we are not being taken seriously, we then give up and dismiss ourselves as well. We accept the explanation that tells us because we are women we are automatically overly sensitive, overly dramatic, overly emotional and, well, crazy.
After hearing this our entire lives, some of us develop an inability to clearly express to our significant others, our bosses, our parents or our friends that what they are saying is hurtful. Instead of coming out and really telling them how we feel, we resort to passive aggressiveness with the famous, “Forget it. Everything’s fine.”Ali said, “Because women bare the brunt of our neurosis. It is much easier for us to place our emotional burdens on the shoulders of our wives, our female friends, our girlfriends, our female employees, our female colleagues, than for us to impose them on the shoulders of men.”He explains that through the way women have been portrayed in our society, females have been conditioned to accept the emotional burdens of others, specifically men. Women don’t refuse the burdens as easily as men do, making themselves an easy target for manipulation.
It is important to recognize when you are being “gaslighted” or emotionally and/or verbally abused. You cannot be afraid to express your feelings and explain to the other person that they are hurting you. Never dismiss your emotions. If you are experiencing guilt, pain or frustration, it is there for a reason, and you should figure out how to deal with it. Communication is imperative to building healthier relationships, and if the person who is hurting you truly cares about you, he/she will make an effort not to do it anymore. If you notice you are unintentionally doing this to someone else, attempt to unlearn the behavior.