Person A: I am saying something offensive.
Person B: I take offense.
Person A: Stop freaking out! Don’t you have a sense of humor?
Earlier this week a friend shared Yashar Ali’s A Message to Women from a Man: You Are Not “Crazy.” Ali explains that mental health professionals define gaslighting as “manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy.”
No wonder some women are unconsciously passive aggressive when expressing anger, sadness, or frustration. For years, they have been subjected to so much gaslighting that they can no longer express themselves in a way that feels authentic to them.
They say, “I’m sorry,” before giving their opinion. In an email or text message, they place a smiley face next to a serious question or concern, thereby reducing the impact of having to express their true feelings.
You know how it looks: “You’re late :)”
These are the same women who stay in relationships they don’t belong in, who don’t follow their dreams, who withdraw from the kind of life they want to live.
I do know how that looks. Do you? Does having a name for this phenomenon help?
It helped me set resolutions for the coming week: I will not use a single emoticon. I will not apologize before I express an opinion. I will call out gaslighting when (unfortunately, not if) I see it.
Photo: Lamp in stairwell, St. Istvan’s Cathedral, Budapest (August 2007).
November blog post count: 3.