"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!"
That was the introductory paragraph to a story written on the Women's page of the Huffington Post website a few months ago. The author, Yashar Ali, writes about how women are emotionally manipulated by both men and other women alike. Allowing this sort of belittling is an epidemic that defines women as "crazy, irrational, overly sensitive and unhinged." Insert term: gaslighting.
Gaslighting a term used to "describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they're crazy." The term comes from the 1944 movie Gaslight where the main character's husband wants to get ahold of her jewelry by having her certified as insane and locked away in an asylum. To do this, he intentionally sets the gaslights in their home to flicker on and off and tells her she's just seeing things when she reacts to it. In this case, he is the gaslighter: "someone who presents false information to alter the victim's perception of him/herself."
Although not always pre-meditated or intentional, gaslighting creates a reaction -- whether it's anger, frustration, sadness, etc. and the victim is left feeling like their behavior/feelings are rational or normal. Who has the right to dictate how another person should feel or react in any given situation? The familiar quote "don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes" comes to mind.
Ali continues to write about men find it easier to place their own emotional burdens on their shoulders of their wives and female friends/co-workers rather than impose them on the shoulders of men. Whether gaslighting is conscious or not, it produces the same result: It renders some women emotionally mute and these women aren't able to clearly express to their spouse that what is said or done to them is hurtful.
It's a great read, check it out.