Women are crazy. Or so society would have us believe.
A few weeks ago I blogged here about how much I can't stand jokes about how women are hard to understand or over-emotional or quick to change their minds or any of the typical things you hear when people want to run down a woman.
When today I read this article by Yashar Ali about how society makes women feel crazy by constantly saying that they are hard to understand, over-emotional or quick to change their minds, I felt like cheering.
What Ali is describing is sometimes called 'gas-lighting'. The term is taken from an old Ingmar Bergman movie about a callous husband who tries to get his wife committed to a mental asylum in order to take her money. He sets the gas lights on to a flicker but when she complains about it, he says that there's nothing wrong and it must be in her head.
Her reasonable reaction to what is going on around her is shut down, dismissed and ridiculed. She is treated as though she is an over-reacting, irrational idiot.
I saw this exact thing happen on my favourite TV show, Survivor, this week. Once again, young blood Brandon is the culprit. He'd already said that he was going to vote Edna out, but he was deliberately mean about her during a challenge. When she called him out on it, he said that of course he hadn't been mean, that she was overreacting, but that if "she wants to make me the bad guy today, well, I'll cope with that because she obviously needs someone to blame" or words to that effect. Edna tried to defend herself and restate her case, but Brandon was impossible to talk to. He kept dismissing, belittling and demoralising her, effectively saying that she was crazy.
Ali's article describes how society 'gas-lights' women as a group, but I think it's broader than that. I believe that the 'group in power', whatever it is, uses language in a gas-lighting way against any group that is less powerful. It happened (and I'm sure still happens) to Aboriginal Australians, or basically anyone black where the government was white. It happens to children all the time.
It's a whole lot easier to emotionally manipulate someone who has been conditioned by our society to accept it. We continue to burden women because they don't refuse our burdens as easily. It's the ultimate cowardice.
Whether gaslighting is conscious or not, it produces the same result: It renders some women [or people or groups - CP] emotionally mute.