The term ‘gaslighting’, best described here, signifies the kind of psychological manipulation where a reaction is provoked by a perpetrator (or, generally by society). Then, when the victim reacts or confronts the perpetrator, they are told or made to feel that they are irrational, taking things too seriously and being too sensitive. The term comes from a 1944 film, ‘Gaslight’, where a husband intent on taking all his wife’s jewellery tries to convince her she is insane. He does this by setting all of the gaslights in their house to flicker and when she reacts, she’s aggressively told that she’s hallucinating. As Yashar says, ‘a gaslighter is someone who presents false information to alter the victim’s perception of him or herself’.
An example is casual sexual harassment: when a man grabs a woman’s breast, then when she screams in his face, he tells her “calm down, it was just a joke. You’re being over-sensitive”.
This blog is dedicated to the various forms of sexist gaslighting I witness almost on a day-to-day basis, including slut shaming, the normalisation of sexual harassment and the widespread use of words such as ‘frape’. Basically, every insidious speck of sexism that has been normalised by society to the extent that anyone who challenges it is belittled and silenced by being told “you’re reading into this too much”/ “you’re being irrational”/ “stop taking this so seriously”, or, the mother of all condescending comments:
“calm down love, there are bigger problems in the world”.