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  1. peabow
    peabow November 15, 2011 at 1:59 pm |

    THANK you for writing this response! I saw this article floating around facebook a few weeks ago (a number of my friends posted it with enthusiasm), and I couldn’t figure out why I felt lukewarm about it. This says it perfectly. I already know what he’s telling me. I also really like your idea that men who are allies can and should use their voices and platforms to influence other men.

  2. zuzu
    zuzu November 15, 2011 at 2:00 pm |

    Someone better alert Angela Lansbury about this gaslighting thing.

  3. Jadey
    Jadey November 15, 2011 at 2:05 pm |

    Yeah, information good, framing bad. Better to frame it as, “Hey, here’s something that was new to me and really interesting/important! It might be new to you as well, people of wide assortment of possible genders who are reading this. Also, hat-tip to the people, including both women and feminists, who have been talking about this for a while and probably are a big part of the reason I have even heard of it.”

    I also found this particular outtake at the end very telling, in terms of his use of “our”:

    When I was writing this piece, I was reminded of one of my favorite Gloria Steinem quotes, “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.”

    So for many of us, it’s first 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.

    But isn’t the issue of gaslighting ultimately about whether we are conditioned to believe that women’s opinions don’t hold as much weight as ours? That what women have to say, what they feel, isn’t quite as legitimate?

    First he constructs “our” specifically to be inclusive of men and women, who both need to unlearn things, via the Steinem quote. But by the final paragraph (the final in the entire piece, in fact), he clearly sets up “our lives” and “our opinions” in contrast to “women’s lives” and “women’s opinions”, so that “our” means exclusively men, himself included. A very interesting way to conclude a piece which his title addresses exclusively to women. I don’t think he has his audience sorted out in his head, and it’s a problem. Something I realized when I started trying to write about anti-racist stuff was that I was imagining an audience of “people like me” (i.e., white folks). Now, there’s nothing necessarily wrong about a white person talking to other white folks about racism, but there’s a huge problem with pretending on an explicit level to be talking to a racially-mixed audience, but then implicitly constructing that audience to be only one group, especially when it’s the damn group that’s dominating too much in the first place. It also lends itself to some pretty condescending and disingenuous commentary, as also demonstrated here. It’s part of a whole “lack of awareness” problem with trying to speak out ‘in defense’ of another social group.

    I feel like I could do a whole analysis of his use of weaselly language to critique sexism while safely positioning himself as someone who has gotten over it and is truly enlightened now (which I think might be the thing that was bothering you?), but I don’t have the energy. I recognize that stage of ‘social awareness’. I fall back into that stage on a regular basis, although I do like to think I’ve gotten better at critical self-reflexivity with practice. Hopefully he’ll get over it as he continues his “journey”.

  4. Florence
    Florence November 15, 2011 at 2:06 pm |

    That’s… kind of not what gaslighting is. Gaslighting is a specific term that categorizes the kind of manipulative behavior seen in relationships with people on the personality disorder spectrum. Gaslighting is behavior that is designed to make the abused feel confused, crazy, and not trust your own judgement. It’s different than your guy-pals being misogynist douchebags. Certainly it’s its own form of abuse, but in this context it’s a weird term to use.

    How about this: “Sound familiar? …When someone says these things to you, it’s not an example of inconsiderate behavior. When your spouse shows up half an hour late to dinner without calling — that’s inconsiderate behavior. A remark intended to shut you down like, “Calm down, you’re overreacting,” after you just addressed someone else’s bad behavior, is ***MISOGYNY***, pure and simple.”

    Why “misogyny” and not “gaslighting”? Because feminism.

    I personally resent when a dude comes down from the mountaintop to share his INFINITE WISDOM about the ladies with the ladyfolk. And I agree that I probably wouldn’t be quite so irritable about it if he were addressing his fellow wannabe allies instead of instructing us ladies on what lenses to use when examining our own lives.

  5. igglanova
    igglanova November 15, 2011 at 2:08 pm |

    peabow: I saw this article floating around facebook a few weeks ago (a number of my friends posted it with enthusiasm), and I couldn’t figure out why I felt lukewarm about it.

    The only thing worse than receiving condescending little head-pats from men is looking around at the number of women who lap that shit up like honey. Have some pride, goddamn it!

    (Yes, I know that there’s a shit-ton of cultural influence at play that makes women act in this manner, and that men are more to blame than women. I’m just frustrated as hell.)

  6. Li
    Li November 15, 2011 at 2:12 pm |

    I don’t think Ali would particularly take issue with you on this one:

    “In my writing, I discuss issues that brilliant women writers and commentators have already written and talked about for many years—these women are much more talented than I am and they are the ones who actually face the issues that I address…
    I am a man living in a culture that has more respect for a man’s voice. Somehow, when I, or other men, write about the issue of gender imbalance, the work gets more widespread attention and is more accepted by readers. “

    Having said that, I do think he switches tone halfway through the gaslighting article to speak more directly to men (see: “This is something we do to women every day, in many different ways”; “But isn’t the issue of gaslighting ultimately about whether we are conditioned to believe that women’s opinions don’t hold as much weight as ours? That what women have to say, what they feel, isn’t quite as legitimate?”), so it isn’t quite accurate to say he isn’t addressing them.

  7. Florence
    Florence November 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm |

    I’m trying to think of a better example of gaslighting. Ali’s examples seem to me to be more about a guy being disrespectful or dismissive in a relationship. Gaslighting is a little different. It’sa pretty specific type of emotional abuse. You see it a lot with narcissists, for example, and it’s really prevalent in parent-child relationships.

    An anecdote: I was with a guy for a long time who probably falls under a personality disorder category (just trust me, this isn’t an armchair assessment). His abusive behavior was never physical, but it consisted of a series of lies that were meant to convince me that my reality was not real. He spent a lot of time lying to preserve his positive self-image, and when I would point out where something wasn’t true or that I witnessed the opposite of what he was saying, he told me I was lying and/or crazy. He spent a lot of time avoiding me or ignoring me when we were alone together, but as soon as there was an audience to perform for, he spent a LOT of time trying to appear happy and connected. Because I was uncooperative with this kabuki dance, he labeled me a bitch and all of our friends, who saw him being sweet and me being cold when we were all together, agreed that I was the one with the problem.

    A parent-child example: A child grows out of his clothes and tells his gaslighting dad that none of his pants fit anymore. Dad ignores the request for new clothes. Whenever the child brings this up again, Dad denies that the child needs new clothes. When the child brings it up in front of other friends and family members, the child gets punished for “lying.”

    When you’re being gaslighted, the process at first is to get indignant and defend yourself. You know what you saw/experienced, it’s not actually a he said/she said kind of argument. When it’s been done enough, you can’t trust what you saw and experienced, because there’s nothing to verify your reality against except someone who’s lying to you.

  8. Michelle
    Michelle November 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm |

    Hey, this sounds familiar. The asshole husband sitting across from me pulls this crap all the time. But, hey, I’m probably overreacting.

  9. Li
    Li November 15, 2011 at 2:31 pm |

    Florence: Also, hat-tip to the people, including both women and feminists, who have been talking about this for a while and probably are a big part of the reason I have even heard of it.

    This: So much. I know it’s heaps awkward for people to have to actually reference the concepts they’re discussing in blog posts, but it’s especially important when discussing structural oppressions from a position of privilege since, woah, there might be an ongoing pattern of say, men appropriating women’s ideas. Typically, since I’m not actually one of the ones being condescended too in his piece, I find the “I figured this out all on my lonesome” tone much more irritating than the target audience framing.

  10. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 15, 2011 at 2:33 pm |

    What Florence said. This is a specific behavior in an abusive relationship. It’s not just anyone being a dismissive, misogynist douche, it’s someone lying to you, denying what they said/did, and painting you as unstable or as a liar. And doing this repeatedly. (They’ll also tell you you’re hysterical and over reacting as a way to put you down and paint themselves as rational and calm, but that’s not gaslighting by itself.)

  11. Li
    Li November 15, 2011 at 2:34 pm |

    And that quoted comment is meant to reference Jadey, not Florence.

  12. Jadey
    Jadey November 15, 2011 at 2:40 pm |

    Florence: I’m trying to think of a better example of gaslighting. Ali’s examples seem to me to be more about a guy being disrespectful or dismissive in a relationship. Gaslighting is a little different. It’sa pretty specific type of emotional abuse. You see it a lot with narcissists, for example, and it’s really prevalent in parent-child relationships.

    My parents would argue before they separated, and my mother started writing down specific things my dad said because so often later he would deny saying things she remembered. You could say that it was an accident, but my father has a tremendous memory… except when he doesn’t want to. He will remember the tiniest most insignificant detail about a case he’s working on, but for years I had to remind him how old I was on my birthday and what day my birthday way. (It’s not that he remembers now – I just stopped reminding him.) Whether he did it deliberately or through sheer lack of care and deep self-involvement, he made her feel like she was losing her mind until she started documenting *everything*. They’ve been separated for over a decade, but she still has a rage-trigger for any kind of manipulative behaviour because of it (I saw her go off on a shady telemarketer once – it was impressive).

  13. Hershele Ostropoler
    Hershele Ostropoler November 15, 2011 at 2:40 pm |

    It’s hard to pin down precisely what it is about the article that bothers me. Maybe it’s the tone (tone!) of voice–Don’t worry, ladies. You’re not crazy; you’re just being manipulated. No, no need to thank me–I’m glad to help. Maybe it’s the helpful introduction to new vocabulary. Maybe I’d be more comfortable about it if it were a message to women from another woman, from someone who’d been on the receiving end of such manipulation.

    I think what it is — and I don’t know if you’re familiar with this word, Caperton — is something called “mansplaining.” That’s a term feminists use for when a man explains women’s experiences to women.

    ;) Not to mention, as Florence pointed out, his mansplanation isn’t even right.

  14. Jadey
    Jadey November 15, 2011 at 2:41 pm |

    He did, incidentally, deny that he has said things she had documented. But that’s when she started taking him a lot less seriously.

  15. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve November 15, 2011 at 2:42 pm |

    Wholly agree with the criticisms of the ‘framing’. OP is write that its should have been addressed to men, but if this was even just an open letter to humans, it might be less condescending. Making this a ‘message to women’ then makes it full of sexist assumptions. For example:

    When your spouse shows up half an hour late to dinner without calling — that’s inconsiderate behavior.

    Assuming that the woman is the one doing the cooking and the man out working is pretty much textbook sexism.

    Although to be fair, Mr. Ali’s message wasn’t addressed to me, so maybe I shouldn’t have read it in the first place.

  16. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve November 15, 2011 at 2:44 pm |

    Eeeek…did I just spell ‘right’ as ‘write’? god, I’m a dumbass sometimes…

  17. saurus
    saurus November 15, 2011 at 2:57 pm |

    Yeah, I agree with the others that gaslighting is actually a really specific practice on the extreme end of the “someone is writing over my narrative” continuum. It’s not just disagreeing with or ignoring someone else’s opinion or perception; it’s intentionally trying to trick that person into dropping their reality for yours. If you think it’s silly that your partner is making such a big deal about X, that’s not necessarily gaslighting. But if you try to convince your partner that X never even happened, that’s gaslighting.

    Notably, a behavior doesn’t even have to approach the level of gaslighting to be traumatic. There’s a lot of ways and lesser forms in which someone can chip away at one’s sense of reality, integrity and identity.

  18. midnightsky
    midnightsky November 15, 2011 at 3:01 pm |

    You may have figured this out (as the subject of the post says), but lots of women haven’t. It’s important for them to see articles like this, especially from guys who realize that this is happening and who are with the womenfolk in saying that this isn’t okay.

  19. Jadey
    Jadey November 15, 2011 at 3:08 pm |

    midnightsky: You may have figured this out (as the subject of the post says), but lots of women haven’t. It’s important for them to see articles like this, especially from guys who realize that this is happening and who are with the womenfolk in saying that this isn’t okay.

    Which is why the OP specifically said that, and then went on to point out why, despite this aspect of merit, there were also serious counterproductive aspects about how he went about sharing this information? (Which, as other commenters have pointed out, was not actually a terrifically accurate bit of information either.)

  20. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 15, 2011 at 3:11 pm |

    Jadey: Which is why the OP specifically said that, and then went on to point out why, despite this aspect of merit, there were also serious counterproductive aspects about how he went about sharing this information? (Which, as other commenters have pointed out, was not actually a terrifically accurate bit of information either.)

    Exactly.

    I dunno. I appreciate what he’s trying to do, I just wish he’d talk more to the dudes about this stuff. Not to mention the fact that that isn’t gaslighting. It’s dismissive and incredibly sexist, but it isn’t gaslighting.

  21. LC
    LC November 15, 2011 at 3:22 pm |

    Florence: That’s… kind of not what gaslighting is.

    THIS.
    If you want good examples of Gaslighting, you can also cite the movie “Gaslight”, which is kind of where the term comes from. (I actually started using the term having seen the movie as a teenager, and only later found out it had been adopted by professionals.) The example of having to write things down because the other person denies they were ever said qualifies, I’d say.

    What Ali is describing is similar, but not really Gaslighting. It’s more like tone control in derailing for dummies.

    Regardless, as was mentioned, its not bad for it to be brought to wider attention, and I’m sure it was helpful for some people, but there are some framing issues.

  22. William
    William November 15, 2011 at 3:30 pm |

    What Ali is talking about isn’t quite gaslighting, its in the same neighborhood and serves much the same purpose. Gaslighting is designed to make the person being denied feel like they’re crazy in order to disempower them, the accusation of hysteria strikes me as more designed to use social values of rationality and stereotypes of women as emotionally labile in order to disempower them. The end result is that the person, generally a woman, is left off balance and unbelieved.

    The really tragic part of these kinds of tactics is that, after awhile, even things that aren’t gaslighting can really damage a person’s perceptions of themselves. Most of the time if a woman comes to see me we’re going to end up spending a fair amount of time wading through a constant fear that any emotional reaction is somehow too emotional or wrong before we can even begin working on what brought them to my office in the first place. Its practically endemic.

  23. Jadey
    Jadey November 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm |

    Sheelzebub: Exactly.

    I dunno. I appreciate what he’s trying to do, I just wish he’d talk more to the dudes about this stuff. Not to mention the fact that that isn’t gaslighting. It’s dismissive and incredibly sexist, but it isn’t gaslighting.

    I’m really feeling my own comparison to trying to write about anti-racism and realizing just how wrong it could go and how much my good intentions and sense of personal enlightenment were not going to save my ass from doing the very thing I was trying not to do. I think when people get involved in a social justice movement for the first time, there’s initially this sense of, “Wow, now I know everything! Now I know how to be a good person and not a bad person like all those unenlightened folks!” Maybe not that overtly, but I’ve seen it (aaaaand done it) enough to think of it as a reasonably common pattern. Ali seems to have it in spades. And it’s just… more of the same, with new packaging. Like enlightened despotism was to despotism – same shit, different day. People at this stage are also highly likely to turn on anyone who points out problems with what they’re saying or doing, in the vein of, “How dare you criticize me! Why aren’t more grateful that I care enough to talk about your problems? If you weren’t so nasty and mean, maybe more people would help you!”

  24. DouglasG
    DouglasG November 15, 2011 at 3:45 pm |

    This post comes across as feeling like a cross between having The Gay Experience straightsplained to me in words of one syllable and seeing Johnny-(or Jenny)-Come-Out-Yesterday jump right to the head of the line and be hailed as a community leader at the expense of many far better qualified for such a distinction after years in the trenches. I’ve often felt a similar difficulty in trying to pinpoint a reaction.

  25. Seisy
    Seisy November 15, 2011 at 4:10 pm |

    I don’t know. It appealed to me. I get the criticisms, but at the same time- as much as maybe it shouldn’t be- it does feel like something of a relief when I see that someone outside of the feminism ‘club’ gets it, because it often feels like talking to an echo chamber…especially considering the jargon and kind of in-club vocabulary that tends to go along with that. It’s usually something I can share with the women in my life who roll their eyes and dismiss everything as soon as they think the word ‘feminist’ (and contrary to the stereotype, these are liberal ladies living in liberal areas, and to them, feminist is not synonymous with evil but with making mountains out of molehills), if only because it IS coming from such a different source. And that’s sad and unfortunate, but that’s what it is.

    I’m not saying he gets a cookie or anything. Just that it didn’t fill me with rage.

    And while I’m thinking about it, I read that column a few months ago, and got it confused with another one in which a man talks about the ways he realized he was using his larger size/strength/voice to dominate…did anyone read that other article and know where I might find it again?

  26. Florence
    Florence November 15, 2011 at 4:19 pm |

    Jadey:
    Hedid,incidentally,denythathehassaidthingsshehaddocumented.Butthat’swhenshestartedtakinghimalotlessseriously.

    Okay, the parent-child relationship example I used happened with my boy and his dad. Last week. Imagine being a child and showing your parent an item of clothing and saying, “This doesn’t fit on my body,” and the parent saying, “Yes it does, and if it doesn’t fit you, you’re a liar.” The child can physically put the item on his body and it does not fit. He is threatened with punishment and called a liar for having a need that his dad doesn’t want to deal with. THAT is gaslighting.

    [My method of communication is to document EVERYTHING, to conduct all business by email so it's in writing, and have the time and memory to show him where he said this, promised that, etc., five minutes/months/years ago. Also, I copy about eight people so I can never get stuck in a he said-she said argument over some stupid detail. Having legal boundaries helps too. In other news, I started packing the boy an overnight bag for the weekends he has to go to his dad's house. Ever try to prove emotional abuse in court? It's not fun.]

  27. saurus
    saurus November 15, 2011 at 4:19 pm |

    I’m not sure the problem is mansplaining so much as…magazine-splaining. It’s got that editorial style you see all over the place whenever X new concept, product, food, cultural practice or disease is being discussed. For example, my revised version:

    You’re nose is stuffed. Your throat aches. Your body is sore. You feel nauseous. You have cold sweats, hot flashes. You’re tired and have no appetite.

    Sound familiar?

    When someone has these symptoms, it’s not just a bug. When your sinuses are a bit tight – that’s a bug. But a slew of grisly symptoms indicates an assault on your immune system, pure and simple.

    I want to introduce a helpful term to identify these symptoms: influenza.

    Influenza is a term often used by health professionals (I am not one) to describe this series of debilitating symptoms [...]

  28. Andie
    Andie November 15, 2011 at 4:22 pm |

    Florence: How about this: “Sound familiar? …When someone says these things to you, it’s not an example of inconsiderate behavior. When your spouse shows up half an hour late to dinner without calling — that’s inconsiderate behavior. A remark intended to shut you down like, “Calm down, you’re overreacting,” after you just addressed someone else’s bad behavior, is ***MISOGYNY***, pure and simple.”

    Why “misogyny” and not “gaslighting”? Because feminism.

    And Gaslighting wouldn’t be telling you that you’re over-reacting… it would be telling you ‘No, we said we’d meet at ‘this’ time. Not the time you think we were supposed to me at. You never get these things right. I’m sure you heard me wrong’ when they actually HAD agreed to meet at the time she thought.

  29. Tina
    Tina November 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm |

    Fat Steve: When your spouse shows up half an hour late to dinner without calling — that’s inconsiderate behavior.
    Assuming that the woman is the one doing the cooking and the man out working is pretty much textbook sexism.

    OK, that is hilarious because when I read that I assumed that the woman was waiting in a restaurant for her husband. I wonder if that means that I have less sexist BS in my head or if it just shows that I don’t cook for anyone so I can’t even imagine that scenario.

    And all the criticisms of the article are spot on. Gaslighting doesn’t mean what he thinks it means. And if this were an article written by a white person to point out to black people that certain things that certain white people do are racist it would be incredibly condescending.

  30. Andie
    Andie November 15, 2011 at 4:37 pm |

    “That word you keep using. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

  31. Adaquinn
    Adaquinn November 15, 2011 at 4:51 pm |

    Andie: “That word you keep using. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

    Has a Princess Bride quote ever been more apt?

    I admit, I went and read the article and thought “No Sh*t Sherlock” but I can see how someone who has never been subject to think of it like that, might consider it a novel thought.

  32. DonnaL
    DonnaL November 15, 2011 at 4:53 pm |

    Ah, gaslighting. I know it well. Like my former spouse swearing to me that I had specifically stated, early in our marriage, that cheating (on my former spouse’s part) was fine with me. Perhaps needless to say, no such conversation ever occurred, but how could I prove it?

  33. DonnaL
    DonnaL November 15, 2011 at 4:56 pm |

    I should have added that my former spouse was so convincingly certain that I actually doubted myself for a while. As I did with respect to my alleged promise to relinquish my 50% share of the house we owned if we ever got divorced. Thank God there are rules that such things have to be in writing.

  34. Tony_
    Tony_ November 15, 2011 at 5:17 pm |


    KATHARINA

    Then, God be bless’d, it is the blessed sun:
    But sun it is not, when you say it is not;
    And the moon changes even as your mind.
    What you will have it named, even that it is;
    And so it shall be so for Katharina.

    I had a friend of mine actually try and convince me that I had Asperger’s syndrome once. He kept asking me all these questions and saying this proves it, that proves it, et cetera. In retrospect I realize that he was more motivated by the power trip that he would have had, had he gotten me to believe that I had this life affecting condition which I had never realized myself. In the end, I had to keep going back to ‘are you a medical professional? no? then you are not qualified to give a diagnosis.’ and stick to that line stubbornly. It helped that he also claimed he had Asperger’s, so I just told him to go get an official diagnosis and if he did, then I would go get evaluated. Of course he never did.

  35. Brian
    Brian November 15, 2011 at 5:31 pm |

    OK, that is hilarious because when I read that I assumed that the woman was waiting in a restaurant for her husband. I wonder if that means that I have less sexist BS in my head or if it just shows that I don’t cook for anyone so I can’t even imagine that scenario.

    I did the same thing. I’ve had two cohabitating relationships where I was the primary cook, and in neither case did I cook until the other person was already home (prep, yes, but not the cooking.) In real life, you can’t depend on anyone to be on time anyhow.

  36. Angelika
    Angelika November 15, 2011 at 5:51 pm |

    Seriously, you have good things to say, and you have access to a valuable platform to say them from. Just make sure you’re saying them to the people who most need to hear them.

    THAT . may i thank you for some debunking Caperton.

    when i read that post on his website i got a strange duh-vibe i quite couldn’t put into my mental sit-com. mansplaining ? fauxminist ?
    (self-declared male-/men-feminists still /freak me out no matter where or when aka webz or IRL)

    on an off-note, i found this fyi as well “gaslighting aka crazy-makers”
    http://thinklikeablackbelt.com/blog/gaslighting-is-someone-using-this-trap-on-you/
    (on a further off-note look for “emotional vampire aka emotionally unavailable person/man”)

  37. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve November 15, 2011 at 5:54 pm |

    Tina: OK, that is hilarious because when I read that I assumed that the woman was waiting in a restaurant for her husband. I wonder if that means that I have less sexist BS in my head or if it just shows that I don’t cook for anyone so I can’t even imagine that scenario.

    Probably a bit of both. As the cook in the family I saw the cooking scenario as the much more inconsiderate- having someone 45 minutes late to meet you at a restaurant just means that you get two extra cocktails, whereas having someone come home 45 minutes late to dinner you’ve conceiveably spent 6 hours preparing, that is unbelievably rude, especially if it’s something that has strict timings and could potentially be ruined.

  38. zuzu
    zuzu November 15, 2011 at 6:00 pm |

    Gaslighting example: I had a boyfriend who once tried to convince me that I had mocked him for having a missing tooth. And that I had been drunk at the time I mocked him. On more than one occasion.

    I’d already begun to realize his need to be a rescuer and what that meant for me (namely, I had to be and be kept an emotional trainwreck so he could feel important and useful), so I held firm to the truth on that one: the only time I’d ever discussed his missing tooth was months earlier, when he’d brought it up himself, during a phone call he’d made to me while I was at work. He had called to tell me of his new dental insurance covering implants. I do remember asking him what had happened to his tooth, since he’d seemed to want me to ask, but given that I have friends with missing limbs I’ve never asked about, I’m not going to ask about a missing tooth without a prompt, you know? Let alone mock a guy for it.

    And you can bet I ignored his multiple requests years after we broke up to become Facebook friends.

  39. iiii
    iiii November 15, 2011 at 6:06 pm |

    I think the phrase he wanted is “dominance displays.”

  40. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin November 15, 2011 at 6:11 pm |

    I think what gets me is that he is so enamored of himself. He’s self-congratulatory for being on the right team. Maybe this is just a phase. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

    Honestly, I don’t know the best way to address male allies. I try to speak to the center in my own writing, feeling that singling out either men or women is not a good strategy. The men that want to listen will, like it or not, often respond to my gender before my words. The ones that don’t have no extreme transformation to go through. They’re already there.

  41. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve November 15, 2011 at 6:14 pm |

    zuzu: Gaslighting example: I had a boyfriend who once tried to convince me that I had mocked him for having a missing tooth. And that I had been drunk at the time I mocked him. On more than one occasion.

    Yes, that makes more sense in terms of the movie/book, whereas his examples all seem to lack the aspect of trying to convince the person they’d done something they hadn’t. The examples he gives just seem to be merely rude/jerky behavior.

  42. Joyce
    Joyce November 15, 2011 at 6:32 pm |

    As an aside to the content of the article I am hoping that you are being facetious in using “Ladies” to open the writing. I am not a “lady.” A lady is proper, well-behaved, the head of a household (my partner and I share that), titled, and/or the Virgin Mary and I am none of those things. If men are no longer being addressed as Gentlemen in a general way, then I don’t think women should be either.

    It bugs me to no end when I go into a store and there are “Mens” shoes and “Ladies” shoes. When I mention it to the store owners …wait for it…I get told that I am overreacting! It’s just a sign. It doesn’t mean anything.

  43. Joyce
    Joyce November 15, 2011 at 6:35 pm |

    I meant: if men are no longer being addressed as Gentlemen in a general way, then I don’t think women should be addressed as Ladies in a general way either.

  44. Nia
    Nia November 15, 2011 at 6:35 pm |

    Weird timing. There’s a big discussion of gaslighting on the feminism & BDSM thread on Fetlife right now, that I just looked at yesterday.

    It was the first time I heard the term. My parents did it to me my entire childhood.

  45. steve
    steve November 15, 2011 at 7:10 pm |

    Thank you for your thoughts Caperton. As a man who is pro-feminist I agree that our top priority should be to reach out to other men to recruit them as allies to the feminists movement. Thank you.

  46. Lucy
    Lucy November 15, 2011 at 7:13 pm |

    I didn’t really catch this tone the first time I read the article, but you’re absolutely right in that on second read it does come across as a little mansplain-y. I will say that while what Ali describes is not technically what gaslighting means (and believe me, nothing grinds my gears more than cavalier misuse of psychological terminology- do not even get me started on “Oh, he’s so bipolar…”), enough repeated experiences in many situations of being unduly told to “calm down” could function in much the same way as actual gaslighting by one abusive individual. I cannot even count the number of times I’ve quietly but firmly and confidently asked a question or requested help or something of a man and the first thing he says is, “Calm down, sweetheart.” That kind of response over and over again 1) makes me defensive and riles me up when I WAS already calm, and 2) leads me seriously doubt myself- “Is that what I sound like? Was I yelling without realizing it? Is my voice too loud?” (Especially if I say something like, “Calm down? I’m perfectly calm,” (also in an indoor voice) and then the man helping me does something like call his supervisor.) But after making very concerted efforts to keep myself level and noticing that this only occurs when I’m dealing with men, I realize that it’s not simply a question of me modulating my tone.

    As an aside, I really resonated with his more recent article about how we shouldn’t for the sake of etiquette push children to be physically affectionate with family members if they don’t want to. I think it is very salient when a man makes that kind of observation about respecting boundaries, because personal space is one of those very subtle but very crucial things that in general most men never have to firmly delineate in interpersonal situations. If a man can notice how that is reinforced in early childhood and realize that it has terrible implications for interactions in adulthood (for people of all genders), that to me shows more promise than, as others have said, preaching to the choir about something that women know all too well and, indeed, have written and blogged and spoken about for all too long.

  47. Cécile
    Cécile November 15, 2011 at 7:42 pm |

    Florence: That’s… kind of not what gaslighting is. Gaslighting is a specific term that categorizes the kind of manipulative behavior seen in relationships with people on the personality disorder spectrum. Gaslighting is behavior that is designed to make the abused feel confused, crazy, and not trust your own judgement.

    I take issue with constricting abusive behavior to be confined to only “very specific, easily recognizable/condemnable” instances. (Or, more so: by placing the emphasis on the subjective psychological ‘condition’ of the abuser rather than his behavior.) It negates the experience of people whose abusers may not have to take such extreme, clean-cut measures, but can ultimately control the victim and produce the same types of psychological effects in more subtle ways. Often, the more deeply a victim is disempowered in an abusive relationship, the less force the abuser must exert to retain control. Much less convenient for us bystanders, but all the more hopeless for the victim.

    Ali describes gaslighting, albeit in somewhat rudimentary layman’s terms as “manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy… a gaslighter is someone who presents false information to alter the victim’s perception of him or herself.” Is that not in the same vein as your description, Florence?

    I happen to think that it’s more useful to victims who are being subjected to this type of behavior (and systematically isolated by it) to have somebody expose its more subtle forms with legitimacy, than to create even more doubt in the victim (and the public) by asserting that this type of abuse is limited to the abstract realm of “the personality disorder spectrum.” People don’t have to have “personality disorders” to practice specific types of abuse. (Abuse is EVERYWHERE, but how many people do you know who is arbitrarily ‘likely’ have a ‘personality disorder’?) What’s more, the public at large, I’m sure, isn’t very confidently ‘in the know’ on this vague ‘spectrum of personality disorders’—all that this classification creates is an under-informed society who will reproduce the victim’s sense of “utter discordance/insanity” by shrugging off her concerns with the assumption that her abuser is nowhere NEAR freakishly, excessively cruel/mentally ill/manipulative enough (it’s a reality that ‘diagnoses’ have their baggage and reductivist stereotypes, especially the more ‘unusual’ ones) to have a “personality disorder” and therefore can’t be abusing her as she claims.

    This is also problematic because it gives the abuser ample opportunity to disguise his behavior; by your description, if there are no [perceivable] signs of a personality disorder in an abuser, then the particular type of abusive behavior has no context for existence. There is widespread documentation that domestic/relationship abuse is often perpetrated by men who are regarded as very normal, or even charming and intelligent, within their communities. And it is precisely this which enables them to get away with it. Oh, and patriarchy.

    (I’d like to recognize a woman I much revere whose work has been incredibly informative and enlightening to me: Dr. Judith Lewis Herman. See ‘Trauma & Recovery’ and ‘Father-Daughter Incest.’)

  48. Tony_
    Tony_ November 15, 2011 at 7:57 pm |

    Thank you for your thoughts Caperton. As a man who is pro-feminist I agree that our top priority should be to reach out to other men to recruit them as allies to the feminists movement. Thank you.

    Yes, and although I realize it is not the point, I find critiques like this incredibly helpful in parsing how I should approach being a male ally.

  49. librarygoose
    librarygoose November 15, 2011 at 7:59 pm |

    Lucy: As an aside, I really resonated with his more recent article about how we shouldn’t for the sake of etiquette push children to be physically affectionate with family members if they don’t want to.

    I like this too. I was never (am still not) physically affectionate. When I was a kid my parents never tried to force me into anything that made me uncomfortable. I also have anxiety issues so I tended to freak out when people hugged me anyway.

  50. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve November 15, 2011 at 8:23 pm |

    As an aside to the content of the article I am hoping that you are being facetious in using “Ladies” to open the writing… …If men are no longer being addressed as Gentlemen in a general way, then I don’t think women should be either.

    I believe she meant it in a sort of carnival barker, ‘Ladies and Gentleman…’ type of way.

  51. Anne
    Anne November 15, 2011 at 8:32 pm |

    The article does make good points, but I’m with you on the tone. It’s something “already feminists” shouldn’t read. I shared it with my friends on Facebook, though, because it could be a gateway article.

    And he could’ve left the gaslighting part out, just saying.

  52. Cécile
    Cécile November 15, 2011 at 8:59 pm |

    By the way, I feel compelled to add that I agree with many of the responses to Ali’s tone and wording. But we are clearly readers who are approaching his title and article with varied degrees of privileged knowledge about ‘feminism,’ ‘patriarchy,’ and ‘abuse.’

    It seems to me that Ali’s article, though I would not deny that it is clumsy, patronizing, and flawed, is NOT directed at women with this privileged awareness and personal ‘emancipation.’

    ‘Feminism’ can seem dauntingly massive and “impossible” to people who have not had the privilege of, say, a women’s studies course which neatly introduced major historical developments, activists, and concepts. Everyone has to start somewhere. For women who do not encounter feminist perspectives in their daily lives (and indeed, are discouraged from being interested in them or receptive to them by men/communities who disdainfully dash it away with a couple of uncontested criticisms), I would imagine that connecting with her emotionally gives the best chance that she will start to take more feminist perspectives into consideration, rather than simply never rejecting patriarchal ideologies she may have lived under her whole life and deeply internalized.

    I also know that it might not be what anyone likes to hear, but maybe, if her husband and community are fundamentalist Christians (for example) and she is used to men having an authoritative say on everything about her world—being introduced to ideas that are comparatively ‘more feminist’ in nature MIGHT actually be more effective (for HER) coming from a sympathetic, attuned man, rather than an ‘intimidatingly adroit and knowledgeable feminist.’

    These are mainly meant to be “benign observations.” I’m not making any arguments that Ali’s article should not be criticized, or that more men should write articles like Ali’s for women. I’m definitely not making any arguments that feminists should “tone their arguments down” to make them “less complicated and more accessible.” I guess, all I’m trying to get at, is that Ali’s article struck me as a flawed attempt to be accommodating to women who may be in denial, or not aware, of patriarchal systems in their lives. It’s always worth remembering that while feminism should absolutely continue to develop and grow onward and upward, with strength and intelligence, we should also be continuously conscious about reaching out to “newcomers” or “potential converts (from defensive patriarchal loyalties).” It seems to me that Ali’s article was written in this spirit.

  53. Vic
    Vic November 15, 2011 at 9:09 pm |

    I’m an aspiring English teacher, and I want to integrate feminism into my future classes in high school and college. I’m considering my students read articles such as Yashar Ali’s piece, alongside counterpoint pieces such as this one.

    What I kinda wanna ask for is advice. What would be problematic for a male teacher teaching feminism? Can my lessons regarding the subject only mostly target my male students? How do I address that I address these issues, although coming from a position of privilege as a straight, middle-class man?

  54. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve November 15, 2011 at 9:14 pm |

    Vic: I’m an aspiring English teacher, and I want to integrate feminism into my future classes in high school and college. I’m considering my students read articles such as Yashar Ali’s piece, alongside counterpoint pieces such as this one.

    What I kinda wanna ask for is advice. What would be problematic for a male teacher teaching feminism? Can my lessons regarding the subject only mostly target my male students? How do I address that I address these issues, although coming from a position of privilege as a straight, middle-class man?

    You could start by treating your students equally regardless of gender. Then after a few years, if that’s going well, you could move on to your reasons for doing so.

  55. Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
    Julie @ Willow Bird Baking November 15, 2011 at 9:22 pm |

    Reading the original article and this response was so valuable to me. I’m kind of new to the online feminist community. I recently subscribed to this blog and posts like this make me feel like I’m not alone (I know, I know, cheesiness — wince!)

    Gaslighting has really torn down my self-esteem in the past. It’s nice to hear someone say, “This is a common thing and women have been struggling against it for centuries.” Even though I guess I knew that was true on some level (hysteria, etc.), SEEING REAL WOMEN ON THE INTERNET SAYING SO made me feel a lot better.

    Anyway, thank you!

  56. andie
    andie November 15, 2011 at 9:26 pm |

    Lucy: As an aside, I really resonated with his more recent article about how we shouldn’t for the sake of etiquette push children to be physically affectionate with family members if they don’t want to.

    I’d like to read that.. it’s something I try to practice with my kids because it seems hypocritical to tell them, in the name of trying to prevent sexual abuse, that their bodies are their own and no one is allowed to touch them without their permission, but have to add a caveat of ‘But you still have to hug Grandma’.

  57. LC
    LC November 15, 2011 at 10:14 pm |

    Nia: Weird timing. There’s a big discussion of gaslighting on the feminism & BDSM thread on Fetlife right now, that I just looked at yesterday.

    I can see it being used a lot in the BDSM context.

  58. Jadey
    Jadey November 15, 2011 at 10:24 pm |

    Vic: What I kinda wanna ask for is advice. What would be problematic for a male teacher teaching feminism? Can my lessons regarding the subject only mostly target my male students? How do I address that I address these issues, although coming from a position of privilege as a straight, middle-class man?

    You might find Gary Lemons’ book about his own journey to become a feminist male professor useful: Black Male Outsider: Teaching as a Pro-Feminist Man

    There’s no one right way to be an ally. Everybody fails, and how you handle failing is a big part of eventually failing less. Immersing yourself in the writings of many different feminists and womanists would probably be a good start (remembering that not everyone agrees with each other). Blogs are very accessible, but there’s also a LOT of lit as well, of varying degrees of lay accessibility (some of it is admittedly academic and jargony). My favourite starting place (and middling place and ending place and all around place) are the writings of bell hooks. All of it, really, although Feminist Theory from Margin to Center and Feminism is for Everyone were my entry points. If you’re not USian, you’ll probably also want to look for people who share your national context as well, as issues and framing can really differ across borders.

  59. Jadey
    Jadey November 15, 2011 at 10:27 pm |

    LC: I can see it being used a lot in the BDSM context.

    Moreso than in a non-BDSM context?

  60. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl November 15, 2011 at 10:33 pm |

    Vic:

    Hugo Schwyzer has had a blog for quite a few years — although I think he’s changed his format up some. I do know that back in the day (6-7 years ago) he got a lot of really good critique from feminists about his role as a male educator trying to teach gender issues at the collegiate level. You might want to check out his archives, or see what he is up to lately.

    He doesn’t always get it right (in my very slanted opinion), but he’s very honest about what he does and does not know and is very transparent about his learning curve.

  61. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable November 15, 2011 at 11:22 pm |

    I agree that a dude’s best response to misogyny is to tell other dudes to stop being misogynistic, but my familiarity with gaslighting doesn’t preclude me from thinking this could be useful for other women. For one, I can honestly say I’ve never heard the term “gaslighting” outside of a feminist website (and I was a psych minor), and for two, I am one of two friends (out of say, 20 close friends) who regularly visits feminist sites.

  62. PeggyLuWho
    PeggyLuWho November 15, 2011 at 11:48 pm |

    I first heard the term ‘gaslighting’ about a month ago from my friend Annamarie when I was explaining the latest romantic derailment. This guy I had been spending a lot of time with suddenly was all, “you knew that this wasn’t romantic. I’m not a bullshitter. I would have never let you stay the night at my house if I thought you liked me like that.” Uh, dude, I knew no such thing, you are totally full of shit, and you didn’t ‘let me’ stay at your house, you invited me. But just the way he said it, so matter of fact, that I did think that I had made it all up in my head. What I didn’t make up was the part where he introduced me to his friends as his girlfriend.

    Anyway, derailing with a personal story as per usual, but I seem to be highly susceptible to this gaslighting. Looking back through my past, there are many examples. I even asked my therapist if she thought I was doing something that made me more attractive to these people.

  63. PeggyLuWho
    PeggyLuWho November 15, 2011 at 11:56 pm |

    Andie:
    “That word you keep using. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

    The misuse of the word ‘platonic’ has been driving rather batty lately.

  64. JennifernotJneey
    JennifernotJneey November 16, 2011 at 12:35 am |

    My parents gaslighted (gaslit?) ALL THE TIME to me when I was young. Now I know there’s a term for it.

  65. karak
    karak November 16, 2011 at 3:12 am |

    Ali’s article really speaks to me because it reminds me of a seminal event in my own life. And I think this kind of emotional control, especially by strangers, is COMPLETELY gaslighting.

    When I was in junior high, this fucking kid was sexual harassing me. He was grabbing my ass and my breasts, spreading rumors about our sex life (which was a joke, because what cool guy like him would fuck a loser like me?) And all these other people would watch him do this and laugh and encourage him. And I was getting more upset and hysterical as this went on for weeks and weeks, but no one besides me thought this was a big deal, and I started to honestly wonder if I was insane and without a sense of humor. When I finally reported him to the principal, I broke down in tears and apologized over and over for “not getting the joke”. I fucking apologized. For him rubbing his crotch up against my ass when I bent over to get some papers.

    What they did to me, all of them, was gaslighting, make me doubt my sense of boundaries, my right to speak, even my sense of humor. It was carefully designed to break me down so I wouldn’t even dare to question a man who decided to use my body. That’s fucking gaslighting–breaking a person down into unquestioning obedience and total dependence.

    And I understand the objections to mansplaining, but honestly, sometimes you have to hear it from a man. Because men, at least to me, represent the wider world–how most people see and react to what’s happening. So when I told my parents, yeah, my mom was furious, but it didn’t mean anything. It didn’t mean that I actually had a right to object or that this wouldn’t happen again. But my Dad’s anger? Wow. He was enraged–and that taught me that men don’t behave like this, that it’s completely unacceptable, and that men have my back. Real men back women up. And my dad was even more angry than me or my mother, and that really, really meant a lot to my 13-year-old self. Every boyfriend I have, I measure him against my dad in that moment–if someone said I was crazy, would he still take my side?

    And sometimes, even if they do it in an awkward, facepalming kind of way, I like to hear men say the things we’ve been saying for generations now. It makes me feel like there’s actual progress being made and that there are cool dudes out there who have our backs. (I, personally, feel that cookies are a great form of positive reinforcement. HAVE A COOKIE, ALI. If you try hard next time, there will be BANANA BREAD).

  66. DouglasG
    DouglasG November 16, 2011 at 7:39 am |

    Is banana bread generally recognized as an incentive? I must have repressed some bad experience from childhood or something, because I can’t eat a banana or even anything banana-flavoured without gagging.

  67. DouglasG
    DouglasG November 16, 2011 at 8:00 am |

    [A lady is proper, well-behaved, the head of a household (my partner and I share that), titled, and/or the Virgin Mary and I am none of those things. If men are no longer being addressed as Gentlemen in a general way, then I don’t think women should be either.]

    Ms Joyce – I salute you. If you like, feel free to insert that most ladylike of practices, Luncheon Bridge. {It’s funny how weird the word luncheon looks after lengthy disuse. It must be at least a decade since I’ve written or typed it.}

    I would not mind at all if both the G word and the L word were reserved for Wimbledon.

  68. igglanova
    igglanova November 16, 2011 at 9:45 am |

    Vic: I’m an aspiring English teacher, and I want to integrate feminism into my future classes in high school and college. I’m considering my students read articles such as Yashar Ali’s piece, alongside counterpoint pieces such as this one.

    What I kinda wanna ask for is advice. What would be problematic for a male teacher teaching feminism? Can my lessons regarding the subject only mostly target my male students? How do I address that I address these issues, although coming from a position of privilege as a straight, middle-class man?

    I think you will be fine teaching male and female students as long as you keep a few things in mind…

    1. No condescension. Ever. Monitor your tone carefully to make sure that you aren’t subtly giving the impression that women are poor dears who just don’t know any better, while ignoring the fact that men are just as brainwashed by patriarchy as women. You may have to insert that fact as a disclaimer every once in a while to make sure people get it.

    2. When you are borrowing or teaching the ideas of feminist women, make sure to credit them by name. This is a subtle reinforcement of women’s authority on matters of sexism. (Of course, it’s good practice to do this for men’s ideas, too, but I think it is especially critical in women’s case, given how often women’s contributions to discourse are ignored in other fields.)

  69. Athenia
    Athenia November 16, 2011 at 11:49 am |

    I think the title of the article is pretty crappy.

    I didn’t think the overrall article was bad, but it seemed the point was to coin a new term. Terms like “mansplaining” weren’t coined in some official magazine (at least I don’t think so!), but it seemed to develop organically to describe the behavior of some men in the feminist blogosphere. (Or perhaps I’m complete wrong about that?)

    Anyway, I also dislike the term “gaslight.” I just don’t think it conveys the behavior despite the name origin. We also have terms like “belittling” and “ignoring”—and I would argue that many men don’t do this because of intentional manipulation, but the way that society values certain things, they see themselves as *right.* Full stop.

  70. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve November 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm |

    karak: What they did to me, all of them, was gaslighting, make me doubt my sense of boundaries, my right to speak, even my sense of humor. It was carefully designed to break me down so I wouldn’t even dare to question a man who decided to use my body. That’s fucking gaslighting–breaking a person down into unquestioning obedience and total dependence.

    And I understand the objections to mansplaining, but honestly, sometimes you have to hear it from a man.

    Well, as a man I would suggest you look at the examples of gas lighting given by (women) Florence @7, Donna @32 and zuzu @38. Because while what happened to you was certainly terrible, it was not gaslighting.

  71. Jadey
    Jadey November 16, 2011 at 12:46 pm |

    Fat Steve: Well, as a man I would suggest you look at the examples of gas lighting given by (women) Florence @7, Donna @32 and zuzu @38. Because while what happened to you was certainly terrible, it was not gaslighting.

    Boundaries, Fat Steve – you still need to figure them out.

    Look, I think there’s merit to debating what constitutes a definition of gas-lighting, if only for the sake of being able to use a term cogently and in a way that people will generally understand what a person is talking about. But terms are constructs and, especially for something like this, will always have some fuzzy edges. And really, turning around and snidely telling someone who has described their personal experience of what sure as hell felt like gas-lighting to them that they are wrong and need to check their definitions is NOT. HELPING. ANYONE. There is a difference between snarkily debating “hypothetical example I made up to illustrate this point” and “personal disclosure with actual negative emotional impact”. Yeesh.

    Which is not to say no one can disagree with karak. It is to say you don’t have to be an asshat to do it.

  72. Katniss
    Katniss November 16, 2011 at 12:55 pm |

    Fat Steve, do you seriously so no irony at all in you discounting karak’s experience of gaslighting in a discussion of gaslighting?!

  73. Katniss
    Katniss November 16, 2011 at 12:55 pm |

    so = see in that comment.

  74. mahdi tourage
    mahdi tourage November 16, 2011 at 1:03 pm |

    Ali’s piece was forwarded to me for a different reason, but as a man trying to unlearn patriachal behaviors and as someone who is in the process of writing a book on Muslim men and feminism (and who teaches gender stuff) i found Ali’s peice troubling on a few points. First is that as men who collect the dividends of patriachy, even as we try to deconstruct or dismantle it, we men should be very careful of the hidden desires to appropriate women’s discourse only to remain its master. I dont know Ali and applaud his attempt, but i get a feeling this is what is happening here. I have seen it too many times men pretending to be feminists (or take yoga, or go vegetarian etc.) because thats how you endear yourself to women.

  75. Jennifer
    Jennifer November 16, 2011 at 2:34 pm |

    Fat Steve: Probably a bit of both. As the cook in the family I saw the cooking scenario as the much more inconsiderate – having someone 45 minutes late to meet you at a restaurant just means that you get two extra cocktails, where as having someone come home 45 minutes late to dinner you’ve conceiveably spent 6 hours preparing, that is unbelievably rude, especially if it’s something that has strict timings and could potentially be ruined.

    I agreed with Tina’s interpretation – to me, that example in Ali’s article spoke of a situation where a woman was waiting for a man in a restaurant. And so did someone else. As this post points out, Ali’s article was problematic, but given that he seems to have a modicum of intelligence, and is intending to write feminist-friendly articles, it seems unlikely to me that he would automatically assume female = cook of the house, male = breadwinner, like you asserted. Moreover, I thought this reply to Tina was ridiculously condescending. S/he offered up two potential reasons as to why the two of you came to different conclusions; s/he didn’t say that you were right, and she was wrong. Don’t assume so. I see no reason as to why your interpretation was correct, and hers/his wasn’t.

    Also, I disagree that being late to a home-cooked meal is the ruder of the two. First off – what meals are you (or anyone else?) cooking for dinner that routinely take 6 hours of active work to prepare? Even taking six hours for a meal to cook (with no active work for most of that period, just, say, being on the stove, slow-cooker, or in the oven) is, I would think, a rarity. Also, people often get kicked out of a restaurant if your dining companion is late – it isn’t always just ‘two more cocktails’. The scenario is all the more ruder if someone doesn’t frequently go out to a restaurant, and it’s a special occasion of sorts (which, particularly in a recession, is often the case for many people). I understand that being late to a home-cooked dinner for no reason and no communication is quite rude, but so is the scenario that Tina and I believe Ali was referring to, so dismissing her/his response (particularly when s/he acknowledged that yours might also be the case) isn’t necessary.

    Lastly, consider me in agreement with Jadey and katniss when they stated that your response to karak was extraordinarily rude and inappropriate. However, they said everything I could want to say, so I won’t remark on it further.

  76. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve November 16, 2011 at 3:33 pm |

    Jennifer: Also, I disagree that being late to a home-cooked meal is the ruder of the two. First off – what meals are you (or anyone else?) cooking for dinner that routinely take 6 hours of active work to prepare? Even taking six hours for a meal to cook (with no active work for most of that period, just, say, being on the stove, slow-cooker, or in the oven) is, I would think, a rarity. Also, people often get kicked out of a restaurant if your dining companion is late – it isn’t always just ‘two more cocktails’. The scenario is all the more ruder if someone doesn’t frequently go out to a restaurant, and it’s a special occasion of sorts (which, particularly in a recession, is often the case for many people). I understand that being late to a home-cooked dinner for no reason and no communication is quite rude, but so is the scenario that Tina and I believe Ali was referring to, so dismissing her/his response (particularly when s/he acknowledged that yours might also be the case) isn’t necessary.

    I didn’t get the impression that Tina took my comments offensively. And I said it was possibly ‘both.’ I mean, clearly someone who doesn’t get that it’s rude to make someone wait for a home cooked meal hasn’t done much cooking, but it is also possible that her mind isn’t full of sexist bullshit.

    I specifically clarified what I was saying ‘as the cook in in the family.’ And yes, it is not uncommon for me to spend over 6 hours cooking a meal. With cheaper cuts of meat (which, particularly in a recession, many people have to buy,) you need to braise or slow roast them in order to get the desired tenderness.

  77. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve November 16, 2011 at 3:36 pm |

    Katniss: Fat Steve, do you seriously so no irony at all in you discounting karak’s experience of gaslighting in a discussion of gaslighting?!

    I never responded to karak’s post.

    (Irony/example of gas lighting)

  78. Jadey
    Jadey November 16, 2011 at 4:03 pm |

    Fat Steve: I never responded to karak’s post.

    (Irony/example of gas lighting)

    Did it occur you to how triggering and screamingly inappropriate this joke would be on this thread? Seriously – I see you do this (i.e., really poorly-judged attempts at humour) on so many threads and I’ve seen you called on it so many damn times and you say that you are contrite sometimes, but you never seem to learn. I’m really hoping that you will either choose to leave or just be banned at some point.

  79. iiii
    iiii November 16, 2011 at 4:08 pm |

    “The failure mode of clever is “asshole.””
    – John Scalzi

  80. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve November 16, 2011 at 4:15 pm |

    Jadey: Did it occur you to how triggering and screamingly inappropriate this joke would be on this thread? Seriously – I see you do this (i.e., really poorly-judged attempts at humour) on so many threads and I’ve seen you called on it so many damn times and you say that you are contrite sometimes, but you never seem to learn. I’m really hoping that you will either choose to leave or just be banned at some point.

    Fine, I will choose to leave. Or to stop commenting. I really enjoy the bloogers here so I will continue to read. I have neither the inclination or stress threshold to justify/mansplain/derail every time one of my jokes falls flat, so that seems like the easiest option.

  81. zuzu
    zuzu November 16, 2011 at 4:20 pm |

    Fat Steve: Fine, I will choose to leave. Or to stop commenting. I really enjoy the bloogers here so I will continue to read. I have neither the inclination or stress threshold to justify/mansplain/derail every time one of my jokes falls flat, so that seems like the easiest option.

    You might want to use your time to figure out why a) you feel the need to make often rather aggressive jokes; b) said jokes more often than not fall flat at best or make people angry at worst; c) your response to being called out on the aggressiveness of said jokes is often, “BUT I’M JOKING!”; d) why that’s really not a cool response to use on a feminist blog.

    Ta.

  82. binarypillbug
    binarypillbug November 16, 2011 at 4:37 pm |

    it wasn’t a joke, it was a passive aggressive way to respond instead of constructing an actual arguement

    it isn’t a joke “falling flat”, it’s you not caring about the effect you’re having on other people

  83. Razzby
    Razzby November 16, 2011 at 5:16 pm |

    Karak, as if 13 isn’t hard enough. Very similar situation for me, too, except my dad said with some exasperation, “If someone does something you don’t like, then just punch them in the face.” As a big over 6′ male, he has never been able to quite get how his experiences (and like responses) don’t fit the same when you’re female and small. Kudos to your dad.

    Fat Steve, it wasn’t clever enough for irony. Take the entitlement elsewhere.

    Thanks for the defining word. Now I know a simple way to explain “gaslighting.” Like Florence, I have to document everything with my ex, as well. He’d threaten terrible things, swear I said I was suicidal and/or a danger to everyone the moment I called him on money being missing from the bank, hotel charges on the cards, strange phone calls, etc.

    I am a bit ashamed at how good he was at it with me. Gaslighting. Thanks.

  84. Lauren
    Lauren November 16, 2011 at 7:29 pm | *

    Fat Steve: bloogers

    Ha.

  85. Angelika
    Angelika November 16, 2011 at 9:13 pm |

    @Florence / 7

    I’m trying to think of a better example of gaslighting. Ali’s examples seem to me to be more about a guy being disrespectful or dismissive in a relationship. Gaslighting is a little different. It’sa pretty specific type of emotional abuse. You see it a lot with narcissists, for example, and it’s really prevalent in parent-child relationships.

    i found this overview of soc. power-wheels helpful to identify certain/behaviours/structures.
    http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=38490

    (and yes, e.g. narcissistic behaviour often correlates with a soc. narcissistic personality/disorder)

  86. A Message to Women From a Man: You Are Not "Crazy - CurlTalk

    [...] to this article as to why it feels problematic even if at the same time it's in support of women http://www.feministe.us/blog/archive…-from-a-woman/ [...]

  87. Holly
    Holly November 17, 2011 at 4:36 pm |

    Gaslighting is a term often used by mental health professionals (I am not one) to describe manipulative behavior used to confused people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy.

    Not quite. Gaslighting is a term a few mental health professionals have found useful in trying to explain certain aspects of abuse to patients who have been abused. But that’s different from terms which mental health professionals use to communicate with each other, from terms in textbooks, from terms they write in charts when making notes, etc. Gaslighting is not an official psychological term, it is sometimes a teaching tool to help people who aren’t in the mental health field understand, but not an official term. By far and away, far more people who have been abused use it than mental health professionals.

  88. Jocelyn
    Jocelyn November 20, 2011 at 11:04 am |

    Only those who have never gone through the gaslighting experience would dare cast a stone at Mr. Ali’s treatise. Such tactics are debasing, debilitating, and demented; this from a very strong and powerful woman who. fortuitously, saw through the attempts are they were manifested by a husband thought to be loving, dedicated and kind. Albeit a passive/aggressive sociopath and a pathological narcissist.

    Onward, Mr. Ali! You’re reaching the audience who need to hear you. Please consider publishing a hard-cover edition of your musings, contentions and observations.

    Merci!

  89. groggette
    groggette November 21, 2011 at 11:43 am |

    Jocelyn: Only those who have never gone through the gaslighting experience would dare cast a stone at Mr. Ali’s treatise.

    So you’re calling the people here who had critiques of Ali’s post and also admitted to having gone through gaslighting in the past liars? Awesome.

  90. Lauren
    Lauren November 21, 2011 at 11:46 am | *

    Jocelyn:
    OnlythosewhohavenevergonethroughthegaslightingexperiencewoulddarecastastoneatMr.Ali’streatise.Suchtacticsaredebasing,debilitating,anddemented;thisfromaverystrongandpowerfulwomanwho.fortuitously,sawthroughtheattemptsaretheyweremanifestedbyahusbandthoughttobeloving,dedicatedandkind.Albeitapassive/aggressivesociopathandapathologicalnarcissist.

    Onward,Mr.Ali!You’rereachingtheaudiencewhoneedtohearyou.Pleaseconsiderpublishingahard-covereditionofyourmusings,contentionsandobservations.

    Yeah, m’kay. There are legitimate critiques here by people who have experienced gaslighting. I feel like your reading comprehension failed you here, pal.

  91. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub November 21, 2011 at 11:54 am |

    Jocelyn: Only those who have never gone through the gaslighting experience would dare cast a stone at Mr. Ali’s treatise.

    Um, there were plenty of women here who have been through it and who had legitimate critiques of Ali’s article. But your erasure of these abuse survivors and women is duly noted.

  92. Medusa
    Medusa November 22, 2011 at 11:42 am |

    Fat Steve:

    Assuming that the woman is the one doing the cooking and the man out working is pretty much textbook sexism.

    Um? Isn’t the wording of this pretty clearly stating that they are meeting out somewhere? I didn’t see any other interpretation of this…

  93. househusband
    househusband November 22, 2011 at 5:36 pm |

    Cécile:
    Bytheway,IfeelcompelledtoaddthatIagreewithmanyoftheresponsestoAli’stoneandwording.Butweareclearlyreaderswhoareapproachinghistitleandarticlewithvarieddegreesofprivilegedknowledgeabout‘feminism,’‘patriarchy,’and‘abuse.’…………..

    Cécile, I agree with your analysis completely. I enjoyed the original article, this critique and the ongoing discussion very much (except for some of Fat Steve’s “contributions” that is).

    Seems to me the article was directed at men or at anyone who is not familiar with feminist theory and who do not participate in this type of forum. His article was also run at the “Good Men Project” (Ali and Schwyzer contribute there often) where it was met with support and the expected rejection by sexist men and what seemed to be a healthy population of MRA’s. I think the approach was effective for the audience. Anyway, just wanted you to know about the article running there with 12k “likes” by people who probably had little idea about this phenomena in particular… not to mention the idea of patriarchy period. BTW… this blog has been mentioned in the ongoing discussion in the comments there as well I just noticed when I was looking for the link. LOL.

  94. Jackie
    Jackie November 23, 2011 at 6:52 am |

    “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!” These all sound like things the more realistically annoying Daffy Duck from the New Looney Tunes Show would say.

  95. QuantumInc
    QuantumInc November 25, 2011 at 11:09 am |

    I’ve found this post and the comments to be very frustrating. I can’t help but think “Aren’t there better things to criticize?” There is a lot of merit to these criticisms, but they are missing a few things. First, this article is meant for those who haven’t heard of this issue before, so of course it sounds condescending to somebody who knows better.

    Second, while the term gaslighting is apparently reserved for something more severe, the things discussed by Yashar Ali still deserve a name beyond “Misogyny”. Misogyny is far too generic and vague. Actually while it is misogyny is more related to gaslighting than other forms of misogyny, since it is meant to make a woman doubt here own version of events and reactions to it.

    Third, there is nothing wrong with a man explaining feminist concepts to women, no more so than a woman explaining feminist concepts to a woman. The only time it’s problematic is if a man explains a woman’s expierience to women. Ali sorta kinda does this, but again it’s aimed at men and women who have never heard of gaslighting. He’s hoping his description of events matches something in the readers lives. I don’t think he meant to insist on his understanding of women.

    Be careful when you call something “mansplaining”. Be careful when you claim that an article could be different if only someone of the opposite sex had written it. If Mr. Ali’s gender is the only crititical factor determining your feelings about his writings, that is the very definition of sexism. If this had been written by Gloria Steinem, the condescending parts would still be condescending. (Though of clourse Mz Steinem would have (already has??) written it differently, and a third person would also be different. Thus the question is “How would a woman write is differently?” not “Are men allowed to educate women about women’s issues?”)

    I thought this kinda critique would be a good opening for talking about actual gaslighting, but apparently that’s what the next post is for.

  96. Madelyn
    Madelyn November 30, 2011 at 4:13 am |

    See, but the problem is that criticisms like this make it impossible–or at any rate, much harder–for men to become involved in discussions of sexism and feminism. A man’s experience with feminism is important. Men, in general, have blind spots that women, in general, don’t, and vice versa–it’s incredibly useful to have people of all genders writing about gender issues. I suppose you could take issue with the idea of a man directing an article about gender issues to women, but I…don’t. What’s the problem with a man spreading the word on something that you agree with him on, quibbles about the exact definition of “gaslighting” aside?

  97. nawlinslesli
    nawlinslesli December 1, 2011 at 1:53 pm |

    Wow! At least he’s trying to understand and help by expressing his dissatisfaction with the situation. Gaslighting doesn’t only exist from men to women. It happens from mother to daughter, father to son, etc. Your reactions to his yearning for an explanation is perhaps the reason so many men consider us to be crazy. I applaud him. Have any of you ever experienced gaslighting? Maybe not. Because I think you’d understand if you had. Good for you. It’s really no fun. Why do you assume that he’s on a pedestal patting our heads? I think he’s trying to make sense out of the unfairness between the sexes. Good for him!

  98. Links of Great Interest: HOORAY IT’S THE WEEKEND — The Hathor Legacy

    [...] gaslighting. Oh, wait, you might’ve known that [...]

  99. Casey
    Casey December 3, 2011 at 4:16 am |

    Have any of you ever experienced gaslighting? Maybe not.

    There were a whole bunch of commenters here who talked about their experience being gas-lit. LRN 2 READING COMPREHENSION

    I’m not really digging the recent influx of people tonguing this Ali guy’s asshole and giving him cookie’s for doling out ill-conceived 101-level info (INACCURATE INFO AT THAT!). It’s nice of him to do this, but…come on. >_>V

  100. Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism: A More Complete Picture | onereadleaf

    [...] that might hurt someone, and I certainly don’t want to come off like the author is criticized in this piece. Of course, not writing about it is also racist… What I’m trying to say here is that I’m a [...]

  101. Gaslighting « holdingfaster
    Gaslighting « holdingfaster December 7, 2011 at 8:26 am |

    [...] or calling your girlfriend “crazy” are in the vein of gaslighting. See this: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/11/15/a-message-to-yashar-ali-from-a-woman/  and [...]

  102. leah
    leah December 7, 2011 at 8:39 am |

    I would tend to agree that gaslighting is more insidious and intense than the usual “women are crazy” sexist dismissiveness when its occurring to one victim over a prolonged period of time as a result of one or more abusers, but dismissive sexism and gaslighting ARE in the same vein. They are both intended to undermine confidence in one’s perceptions and feelings about the world. I’d almost be willing to call dismissive sexism a prolonged attempt at gaslighting women as a whole. I think this is what Ali could have been getting at, and I don’t have a huge problem with him writing his interpretation of the word to include these kinds of comments. I do think he gets it wrong at some points when he brings in other kinds of emotionally abusive comments that make people feel bad for different reasons like “You’re so stupid”. I appreciated him as an ally, but I also bristle a little after reading this response when I read him claiming to “introduce” a term for what people have been talking about for years. It is a bit presumptuous.

  103. mary
    mary December 7, 2011 at 9:23 am |

    Madelyn: See, but the problem is that criticisms like this make it impossible–or at any rate, much harder–for men to become involved in discussions of sexism and feminism. A man’s experience with feminism is important.

    If a man is actually interested in feminism, I think he would understand why women get cheesed off at the privileging of male voices. He would understand that men are often given praise and credit for saying things that women routinely get dismissed for saying. He would understand that women have every right to point that out even in the case of an article that’s intended to help them, and that women may well agree with.

    If a man’s reaction to Caperton’s comments is “HDU suggest I am anything less than the best feminist ever!!1! I hate you mean feminazis and I’m taking my ball and going home!!” then its pretty apparent that he was more interested in using feminist credentials to boost his ego than in actually advancing equality for women.

    You’re not much of an ally if you bolt as soon as things get uncomfortable for you.

  104. Madelyn
    Madelyn December 7, 2011 at 9:45 pm |

    mary:

    So, because if a man is a true feminist, he’ll let feminists pick apart his argument and voice without arguing or complaining, that means that we should?

    It’s not privileging male voices to not dismiss them because they’re saying something you already know. It’s privileging male voices to listen to them preferentially over female voices, which I don’t believe happened with this article–and even if it did, Ali is not the party responsible. Unless what you’re arguing is that men should not write about feminism, because that might distract from the women.

    I don’t think that we should be, you know, coddling fragile male egos so as not to scare them off from the cause. I just don’t think that we should be criticizing them for writing about their experience and what they’ve learned–even if we already know it. I also think that reading Ali’s article as “let me explain to all of you women what I, as a man, know is the truth about your problems, because clearly none of you know about it” is, well, quite a bit of a stretch. And if the point was, instead, “I am a man learning about feminism, here’s a thing I’ve learned, so that those of you who haven’t thought about it might learn something too,” which I think is much more likely, I think that criticizing him and his article is counterproductive.

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