My friend K (ohhh hey) sent me an article from the Huffington Post sometime last week about emotional manipulation, and the epidemic that has spread across our country defining women as irrational. The article addresses specifically when someone does something hurtful and, instead of owning up to their own bad deed, calls the person they upset “crazy” or “over-emotional” for feeling hurt. The article, written by Yashar Ali, is great, and brings up the term “gaslighting.”
An excerpt from Ali:
Gaslighting is a term often used by mental health professionals (I am not one) to describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy.
Example: I once had a friend call me to tell me she saw my (ex-ex-ex) boyfriend, just then, at a party getting handsy with another girl. When I called him, he answered and—with music bumpin’ in the background—told me he was at his grandparent’s. They were watching baseball. When I addressed the music in the background and the chant “keg! keg! keg!” resounding in my ears, he told me I was “crazy,” that my friend was “just jealous” (of what?) and that I was “projecting my own insecurity onto him and harming our relationship.” No sir, you’re an asshole. And that is gaslighting.
The writer of the Huff article—who is male—discusses how women are usually the brunt of gaslighting. The gaslighter does something to make them feel bad about themselves—maybe they blow them off for the 5th time in a row, forget to call again or make a rude comment—and when their insensitive behavior is addressed the gaslighter say something like “you’re over-reacting.” Society has for centuries labeled women as irrational and over-emotional, so when someone tells us that we are being irrational or over-emotional, we often choke those emotions down because it’s what we have been taught to do.
Recently I got in an argument with a friend—nice guy, usually—who was calling his girlfriend “crazy.” When I asked why she was crazy, he told me it was because she was always calling to ask where he was, accusing him of ignoring her, and acting all around “obsessive.” When I dug further, I found out my friend—like I said, nice guy USUALLY—had cheated on her several times, thus breaking trust and rendering her hopelessly insecure. She should probably dump him; instead she is letting him emotionally manipulate her. I have seen women do this to men as well; the term “my psycho ex” is one we are all pretty familiar with regardless of gender. But I can guarantee that many times someone is only acting “crazy” in direct response to whatever negative emotions have been brought up within them—hurt, anger, neglect—and have been dismissed as irrelevant.
Whether you’re male or female, the next time someone dismisses your feelings, stand up for yourself, dammit.
Stories about emotional manipulation? Wanna disagree with me? Challenge me to a duel? Do so in the comments or forever hold your peace, my friend.