6 Reasons ‘Why Women Aren’t Crazy’ is Only Part of the Story

How listening changes everything: Mark Greene seeks a non-gender binary discussion of  gas lighting. 

Yashar Ali’s explosively popular article “Why Women Aren’t Crazy” is out there racking up Facebook shares in the tens of thousands. This tells me its resonating with a lot of women AND men. But, Ali’s article, although valid on some very real levels, tells a limited narrative in a limiting way.

Ali’s central thesis is that men consistently seek to undermine and devalue women’s emotional responses. The process is called “gaslighting”, in reference to a 1940’s film where a husband tries to drive his wife crazy by purposely refusing to acknowledge her perception of events in the world. Ali warns us we have a “gaslighting epidemic in our country”, the result of “the slow and steady drumbeat of women being undermined and dismissed, on a daily basis” by men. He goes on to say “gaslighting is one of many reasons why we are dealing with this public construction of women as ‘crazy'”.

I’d like to talk about a number of issues I have with Ali’s emotionally compelling but ultimately incomplete narrative.

#1 Women are not the only ones being “gaslighted”
Women are not the only ones who’s emotional responses are being invalidated or suppressed in our culture. For many men, the message we receive from our co-workers, friends, lovers and families is quite clear. Our acceptable range of emotional responses should be restricted to a very narrow set of traditional male responses (Typically macho-confidence or anger). We are not encouraged to express uncertainty, fear, sadness, discontent or panic. We are not encouraged to express things that may decrease the sense of security in our families or partnerships. The script we are handed is very clear: “Things are going to be fine. I’m going to make sure everything is okay.” Rinse and repeat. What’s ironic here is that expressing our more fragile emotions in a safe and receptive space is a powerful way to grow security and stability. Rest assured, men know what it feels like to be told to suppress our emotions of grief, melancholy  or fear. And, sadly, when we do as we are told and hide these “unacceptable emotions,” they often reemerge as explosive anger, drug or alcohol abuse, or stress-related illnesses.

#2 Ali’s gaslighted women are powerless victims
Ali’s article drives a narrative that women are victims of damaging external influences over which they have little or no power.  When you invite people to view themselves as victims of this kind, you leave out a very important participant in the narrative. Any of us, men or women, who view ourselves as victims must also take responsibility for the role we play in these processes, both in terms of how the events occur and in how we choose to interpret the events after the fact. Ali encourages women to view themselves as victims without asking of his readers the requisite self-examination that will empower breaking out of the victim cycle. In order for gaslighting to work, you have to allow it continue. Given the changes society has undergone, some substantial percentage of women (say 50%) don’t have to sit and take the kind of silencing Ali describes any more. So I would ask that gaslighting not be treated as a universal phenomenon, but instead as something we are, to some substantive degree, in transition away from.

#3 Ali’s article leverages dramatic language that blames and pathologizes
The language in Ali’s article, “emotional manipulation” “epidemic” “pre-meditated” “neurosis” is designed to encourage an adversarial and sometimes pathological diagnosis of a wide range of human interactions. If you say to someone, “you’re gaslighting me” the dialogue is taken down a path defined by pathological and abuse markers. Markers which should not be assigned or taken on lightly. Once we assign those kind of markers to ourselves or others close to us, we put in place abuse and victimhood frames which overshadow possibilities for flexibility, growth and mutual discovery. If you are being abused, by all means, bring in the calvary. But we must all be wary of the urge to drop the rhetorical A-bomb on our partner when a few months in therapy might put the two of you back on a track toward more honest and open emotional communication.

#4 Ali’s article encourages his readers to employ simplistic binary assumptions
For instance, Ali writes: “A remark intended to shut you down like, “Calm down, you’re overreacting,” after you just addressed someone else’s bad behavior, is emotional manipulation—pure and simple.”

Ali encourages the recipient of this “gaslighting” statement  to view it as intended to shut her down. In doing so, he encourages his female readers to assume a specific intent behind this kind of statement. Is it his intention that we should believe the recipient of this statement NEVER overreacts? That would be unusual. Most of us have overreacted at least once in our lives.

An example of this might be, “my boss hates me” or “I suck at relationships.” These kind of responses burst out in moments when our capacity is tapped out and we’re feeling like we’re failures. These kinds of statements and the emotions that accompany them are probably not the only way we can frame these situations. These are victim statements born out of frustration. And most of us have overreacted like this at one time or another.

When I overreact periodically, my wife often helps me out by suggesting that my reason for feeling reactive may be fear-based or seated in some perceptions that I might want to reconsider. Usually, the response I give after I cool down is much more balanced and productive. My point is this. We can’t remove the sentence “You’re overreacting” from our dialogues. We can’t stigmatize the use of that kind of suggestion. And we can’t assume its a negative. It can be a heartfelt attempt to be helpful. We can always add the word “maybe” in front of it, but ultimately, being willing to reflect on and reconsider our emotional responses is one of the most powerful gifts we can give our partners and ourselves.

#5 Ali provides examples that misidentify strengths as weaknesses
Ali uses the example of how women place a smiley face next to a serious question as evidence that women are “reducing the impact of having to express their true feelings.” How is it that expressing an issue or concern should not be done in a gentle way? If a woman or a man includes a smiley face next to a texted comment or concern, it indicates that they are not speaking from an entrenched reactive position but are instead receptive to dialogue.

Not only is this conducive to discussing the issue in a constructive way, it is the kind of skill set that can grow a more viable personal, business or social relationship. And it’s a skill set we should all be applying more often. It can be considered to be coming from a constructionist approach to communication. Ali’s use of this example as evidence of oppression is potentially chauvinistic in its way, because he privileges a style of communication that is blunt and unapologetic, a typically “male” style of communication.

#6 Ali’s article encourages counterproductive binary arguments
The men in his article are two dimensional bullies that show no capacity for compassion or empathy. It makes for heightened drama and a great third act, but Ali is not writing entertainment. He is attempting to address real and painful social ills. And he is doing so in a way that is ultimately not helpful to men and women alike. We know that men are not two dimensional villains from the silver screen. Men are highly emotional creatures with vast capacities to love and be loved. Men can be spiritual healers and primary parents. They can be loving partners and caring teachers. And in all these roles, they encourage men and women alike to explore and share their emotions, to communicate their challenges and air their grievances.

♦◊♦

Thank you, Yashar. I know your heart is in the right place
I want to say clearly that yes, there are far too many female victims of silencing and abuse in the world. One person dealing with abuse is too many. But it is crucial to our ongoing dialogues to understand that the victims of abuse are men and women alike. It’s a fact that women have the potential to be just as emotionally and physically abusive as men. For some insight, look at the CDC’s statistics on physical abuse in relationships by gender. The report states: “More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.”(1)

Yashar Ali has tapped into a major issue in our culture. He’s right that many women feel suppressed and devalued by people they work and live with. All of this is true. Ali has managed to create some powerful emotional resonance with his article. But it is important that we talk about what is happening between men and women in a holistic way. It is also important that we stay current in how we frame societal ills, so that we don’t devalue the progress that men and woman have created in partnership up to this point. So that we don’t drop back twenty years and pick up a more combative dialogue and bring it forward to now.

What can be immensely helpful instead, is to view these issues through the lens of what is called Appreciative Inquiry. Simply stated, we look for what is working and grow that, versus only pointing out the negative and attempting to eliminate it. Real progress has been made in terms of how men and women address emotions in their relationships. If we fail to acknowledge that, our actions do little to engage and grow successful trending change. Furthermore, appreciative inquiry teaches us to look for common ground and to be curious about ways we can support each other as we go forward in conversations like this one.

I fully understand there is work to be done. Holding someone else’s emotions can be frightening and destabilizing. Especially if we have no models for doing it in our lives or our families of origin. But we can learn how. We and our partners have to help each other learn how.

♦◊♦

In my personal relationship, my wife and I are working to develop these kinds of emotion-holding skills. And top among them for me is the capacity to hear others’ emotions and not immediately try and “fix it” or in some way solve the problem. Instead, I’m learning to just listen and hear. For me, as a man, this is huge. The gift of the act of listening, decoupled from immediately REACTING can create a holding space for the emotions of others. Often, men like me will immediately focus on the source of the problem in an effort to eliminate the resulting uncomfortable emotions. There are times when focusing on fixing things is easier than experiencing our partner’s or our children’s pain or sadness. But the fact is, we human beings need to share our emotions. Fixing the problem can come later. When men (and women) learn to develop skills like this, it can go a long way to eliminating gaslighting. Because it creates the kind of emotional literacy that allows all of us to express ourselves more fully.

“Stop feeling that way” becomes “its okay that you feel that way”. And the oxygen of life and love reenters the room.

 

(1)National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey | 2010 Summary Report. page 2

 

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About Mark Greene

Good Men Project Executive Editor Mark Greene’s new book, REMAKING MANHOOD is a collection of Mark's most powerful articles on American culture, relationships, family and parenting. It is a timely and balanced look at the issues at the heart of the modern masculinity movement. Remaking Manhood is available on Amazon's free Kindle Reader app for all Android, Windows, and Apple devices.

Mark's articles on masculinity and manhood have received over 150,000 FB shares and five million page views. He writes and talks men's Issues at Salon, Shriver Report, Huffington Post, HLN, the BBC, and the New York Times. Mark and his wife, therapist Dr. Saliha Bava, live in New York City.

Comments

  1. On point no. 4 Personally I’ve never liked the term “overreacting” used on anyone. Our experiences & perceptions of reality are subjective. Our reactions will be based on the subjective experience, & therefore may be perfectly appropriate based on that perception. I think it’s better to try understand that perception & help the person see things differently than simply label it “overreacting”. That label does more harm than good IMO :) Anyway, Great Article! 😀

  2. Amantis says:

    Great article! Frankly I’m sick and tired of people supposedly for gender equality and anti-discrimination telling me that I’m a violent, rapist, or abuser just because I was born with XY chromosomes! It seems like its too acceptable to hate on the people who are traditionally privileged.

  3. Anthony De Luca says:

    I really disagree that “one person suffering from abuse is too many.” I think society needs to accept that some amount of unpleasantness is unavoidable. Trying to stamp out ALL abuse is just going to cause problems.

    • How so?

      • Perhaps because the efforts to stamp out ALL abuse can themselves become abusive. To get to zero tolerance you have to go to absurd and totalitarian extremes, as we can see from …the zero tolerance policies at a lot of schools when it comes to weapons. Kids get punished in various ways for all sorts of things that only tangentially have to do with posing an actual threat to anyone.

        That’s not an excuse to stop trying, just a warning about the problems.

    • I would say that trying to “stamp” out all abuse is going to cause problems only if you use power and control as a matter to fight the very foundation of abuse: power and control.

      • Right on the nose. The focus on the negative keeps the positive out of view. Abusive people lack empathy and real loving connection abilities. We need to show them empathy and love, … so they can learn empathy and ability to love. Not exclusively, not only this of course, but this is currently very lacking.

        • Mark Neil says:

          “Abusive people lack empathy and real loving connection abilities.”

          I’m curious how education is going to change the fact they lack the ability to have real loving connections (your words)? There are some people who are just bad people. You can’t change that, meaning you can’t stamp out completely all the things those people will do without some kind of absolute thought control. If one focuses too much on absolute zero tolerance, instead of acknowledging the reality some people are just evil, you will cause damage to the innocents. We can already see it in so many area’s. A kid got expelled for having a lighter at school. He was on the lacross team and the entire team used it to melt the ends of the strings of their rackets when doing repairs. The kid with the pocket knife in his duffel bag, also used for the repairs, also got expelled. How many good, loving fathers must be torn from their children to stamp out child abuse (by men only. Nothing is done to address that done by mothers).

  4. So when you overreact, does your wife shut you down by telling you to calm down, you are overreacting, or does she do this “When I overreact periodically, my wife often helps me out by suggesting that my reason for feeling reactive may be fear-based or seated in some perceptions that I might want to reconsider.” In a way that doesn’t shut you down.

    Cause when I see someone who appears to be overreacting, some of my first thoughts are usually, “Wow, something really important is going on for them. I should help them figure it out if they want.” Maybe they are overreacting, maybe what they are talking about is total projection and wound up in inner drama. But if I say flat out, “Maybe you are overreacting”, the first response back is usually not positive. I can point that out after I’ve listened and allowed for the space, but just to start with “Hey, I think you might be overreacting.” seems to me to be a shutdown and not a listening response.

    Women have, for quite some time, been told they are being “hysterical.” Sometimes I”m sure they’ve been overreacting, but it’s a common trope to dismiss the emotional calibration of the other person in a relationship.

    I’m not entirely sure that being asked to suppress emotions (in and of itself a very bad, mean thing to do to a person and I”m against it, totally) is gaslighting. It’s kind of the reverse. Any feelings you might have have to be hidden, as men, yes? You must only show rationality, logic, surety. Your the voice of reason and authority etc etc. That is limiting, I’ll agree, but it’s a sight different than being made to feel crazy for expressing emotions.

    So while I’d agree that men are made to feel inauthentic, you are rarely accused of being hysterical.

    As for the :) in texts or emails, I think that’s less important (because, yes it does show tone) as for the types of vocal tendancies women fall into when it comes to making a point. Women often say things like “I”m not an expert but (insert actual opinion).” When they could just say what they think without any qualifiers. Women also tend to upspeak more than men (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_rising_terminal) .

    It’s important for authorities to be authoritative. I see women cutting their authority off at the knees all the time. I don’t blame men for this, but I do think our society values authority differently in men than in women.

    Women respond to Ali’s article because it describes situations which apparently many women find to be familiar. This article, while containing many points I find valuable for men and women, seems to discount what women are saying is happening to them. I’m not going to tell you that the things you experience are unreal, or not important enough to talk about. I think that if women are connecting to Ali’s words, there is something there.

    • “I’m not entirely sure that being asked to suppress emotions…is gaslighting….That is limiting, I’ll agree, but it’s a sight different than being made to feel crazy for expressing emotions.”
      There’s no need to start a pissing contest about whose emotional expression is under greater attack by society. It seems to me their just two sides of the same coin. A boy cries about something and gets told to Man The Fuck Up and shut his trap. A girl cries, and hears “you’re being hysterical”. Both messages invalidate their feelings and restrict their range of expression. We should work to eradicate both statements.

      As far as vocal tendencies and conversational habits go, I notice no more of less of my female peers undercutting their opinions than my male ones. In my experience, some people assert their opinions with more confidence and others don’t. The most blunt person I know happens to be female. While I do notice more female friends practicing HRT – although this might be confirmation bias – seems to me it has more to do with the social inclusiveness it provides. (Ps, you might want to re-read that Wikipedia article on upspeak. The “misconceptions” section directly contradicts the point you make while citing it)

      I don’t think Mark tries to undermine the concept of “gaslighting” at all with his points. What I took away (and heartily agree with) was that Yashar pitched this concept in a needlessly binary and confrontational way. Gaslighting exists, but the conversation surrounding it must continue, especially since the most popular article addressing it suffers from fundamental flaws in its presentation. Frankly, I was insulted by some of the generalization in the original gaslighting article as well. But that doesn’t mean I disagree with Yashar’s core concept, just the way he wrote about it. I think Mark just wants to have this conversation without some of Yashar’s more glaring simplifications or vilifications.

      • Not pissing at all. Just opening the door to some conversations. I admitted as much that suppression of men’s emotions is outright wrong. We limit each other in so many ways.

        • I agree, Julie, and didn’t see that as a “pissing contest” at all. You did nothing of the sort. Just drawing a distinction between the act of limiting emotions and gaslighting somebody so they’re labelled irrational/hysterical/not-taken-seriously.

          And as pointed out, there are studies demonstrating this disproportionately happens to women as I’m sure there are studies demonstrating the limiting of men’s more vulnerable emotions.

    • “That is limiting, I’ll agree, but it’s a sight different than being made to feel crazy for expressing emotions.”

      But you’re made to feel inferior because you aren’t showing ENOUGH emotion, or when you do you step outside your gender role and are told to hide them. Why is the females emotional level automatically the better one? or the males? Is it better to have a high level of emotional outburst or a low amount? Better to be openly emotional to the extreme or closed up?

      I’ve been gaslit by women before telling me I have overreacted to a situation, it was crazy or negative behaviour. But are there ever times when the behaviour truly is crazy? Spill milk, put a fist through a wall or something? Is that really rational and acceptable or is it a crazy outburst? Of course there is usually a logical explanation, the answer for my own overreactions was due to depression, an extremely quick temper, low impulse control, and the need to break shit when I am in hulk-mode (luckily that’s all lowered massively).

      I’ve called a woman crazy before, told her to calm down etc. She was annoyed at something I did but it was extremely minor, just saying HI at the wrong time, I copped a lot of verbal abuse and told her it wasn’t acceptable to just abuse me like that, said to calm down, said she was ACTING crazy and it was giving me the heebyjeebies. I tried my best to actually empathize with this woman but I believe she had major issues resulting from abuse and it was impossible to continue a friendship with her, her attitude flipflopped dramatically, one day fine, next day monster, day after that fine, it was hella confusing and just totally impossible to have a decent friendship as she also refused to see help. I won’t put up with behaviour like that, it IS over-reacting regardless if there is a reason, it IS crazy compared to the vast majority of the population, it ISN’T acceptable to just verbally abuse the shit out of me cuz I said HI when she felt like shit. Rude is rude, calling it out is neccessary, but was it gaslighting? I dunno, I’d do the same to a man, it wasn’t about her being a woman, it was about her being Dr Jekyll and Mrs Hyde whilst being extremely rude, verbally abusive, etc. It’s not fun being called a fat loser because you don’t have ESP and know when a person is going to flip personalities.

      I think there are times where people try to treat the other as crazy unfairly, but there are times when the other persons behaviour is fucked up and NOT acceptable, and quite frankly far from normal. How do you call them out on that? How do you tell them that their behaviour is all kinds of strange and extremely confusing?

      • That pattern of behavior (and the abuse you believe she suffered) correlates highly with the behaviour/symptoms/causes of Borderline Personality Disorder: http://www.toddlertime.com/dx/borderline/bpd-traits.htm

        Obviously a qualified psych professional would only be able to diagnose the disorder after consulting with her. Which is often very difficult to guide someone who will almost always reject your help through denial, a diagnosis and treatment will improve the lives of everyone in the relationship.

    • ‘Women respond to Ali’s article because it describes situations which apparently many women find to be familiar. This article, while containing many points I find valuable for men and women, seems to discount what women are saying is happening to them. I’m not going to tell you that the things you experience are unreal, or not important enough to talk about. I think that if women are connecting to Ali’s words, there is something there.”

      I disagree with this.

      Does Ali’s article confirm what women want to believe? Sure. But that doesn’t mean it’s anything more than confirmation bias, or it’s equally problematic cousin, self-serving bias.

      The fact of the matter is, human beings want to believe that their own problems are not their own fault. This is confirmed repeatedly in multiple experiments across multiple fields of inquiry (psychology, economics, and sociology have all found these biases to exist). Ali’s article hands women an argument in favor of this: “Men are terrible, blame every negative experience you have on them.”

      So when you say “women are connecting to Ali’s words” that may be true. But it may also just indicate that women are human and looking for someone else to blame for their own shortcomings.

      For the record, men also do this: this is not a gendered problem, it is a human problem. This is why Ali’s article is so disastrous. It perfectly molds itself to biases that people are predisposed to believe in: that all of their problems are the fault of someone else.

      • “So when you say “women are connecting to Ali’s words” that may be true. But it may also just indicate that women are human and looking for someone else to blame for their own shortcomings.”

        So what you’re suggesting is that the reason so many women are connecting with Ali’s article, is because they’re letting their emotions overrule their ability to think about the issue logically? Wait a second…

        • Heather, I think you’re overreac….umm, wrong. For two reasons:

          1. Mike L. clearly and explicitly suggested that confirmation bias, an ungendered phenomenon, is responsible for why Ali’s article resonated with so many women. Your paraphrase doesn’t sound anything like what his comment said.

          2. *Even if* he had suggested that (which he didn’t), it still wouldn’t be gaslighting, because simply believing women let emotions overrule their ability to think logically is different from manipulating someone who isn’t crazy into thinking they are. For his comment to qualify as gaslighting, he would have to be doing something like randomly coloring some words red and swearing all he saw was the usual black text.

      • The Blurpo says:

        I agree Mike.

        The point it is people can better internalize a experience if it hits them personally. Like every woman had a bad experience with a men or men in her life, and all women had a man telling her : you are over reacting or calm down. Even if it wasnt said in the contex of the article. The situation still rings true in many people ears. So a person can simply pull out from his/her personal lifebag alot of analogous situations and then be easely be manipulated in the direction wanted by the articulist. Simply because what he write, feels true and close to his audience. Practically telling people what they want to hear and not only also re-interpreting the situations but this time from the readers side. And that is a winning formula and it applyes to everybody, men women ect. Politicans do that all the time.
        Like if Ali (or somebody else) wrote a article on mysandry and other issues men face in the society. Many men would have applauded him, even if it contained all the faults and mistakes of the original article. I dont say everybody (not all women agree on Alis article BTW), but alot would. Simply because the writhing confirm some of the experiences of the group the writher is aming at.

        Why want a writer manipulate his readers? for getting notoriety. Just like like politicans try to manipulate the voters to vote him/her. Do the writer do that consciusly? I dont think so. He is simply applying the traditional program that the culture has installed on him. Thus the critics he fails to break the actual gender binary enviroment.

    • Julie speaks my mind! I think, the basis for the difference between “gaslighting” when it happens to women vs. when it happens to men, is that women’s emotions are representational of an overall weakness, a hysteria, an imbalance. Whereas, men are automatically considered strong, logical and just. The default, therefore, for women is crazy and the default for men is leadership and security. Thus the scale is imbalanced from the start – when women diverge by stepping back from their assertions they are rewarded for being logical, and when men diverge they are chided for losing their way. But, we can’t, as a society, continuing viewing women as naturally inferior as a default setting, this, I believe, is the argument the other article was trying to get at. That men can be gaslighted too is certainly true, but it doesn’t happen on the level of discrimination or societal detriment that it does for women.

      • D.R. Bartlette says:

        Thank you! I think the article brings up some very valid critiques of the “Gaslighting” article, and I especially agree with posters here that both men and women are forced/manipulated into narrow straightjackets of emotional expression.
        But the original article on Gaslighting of women isn’t just some made-up excuse that women cling to out of confirmation bias. Many studies have shown that in interpersonal conversations, women get interrupted more, that women who state their opinions more forcefully get negative labels (i.e., bitchy)…and that works right up the ladder of power…look how Hillary Clinton was treated by the press. Look at the dearth of women experts used as sources on the news, or the number of women opinion writers in the big media vs. the number of men (at best, women make up only a third).
        From personal experience, I had this done to me throughout my childhood, so I internalized the belief that any emotional feeling or reaction was “overreaction.” I still see it all the time, eavesdropping on conversations in grocery stores, coffeeshops, etc. And let’s not forget Hollywood, that creator of pop culture: the archetype of the crazy gf/wife is still going strong. It is a real phenomenon and deserves to be revealed, so it can be reversed!

        • SOME of the cases of women stating their opinions being seen as bitchy is because of the ATTITUDE they use with it I have found in my own experiences. But same can be said for some of the guys I know, there is a certain way to state an opinion and generally avoiding the condescending tones helps. Not sure if you meant to say it the way it sounds but I extremely disagree with the notion only females receive negativity for stating their opinions more forcefully.

          The whole crazy stereotype though is pretty pervasive in regards to women but as women are seen more as crazy, the flipside is men are seen more as emotionless which is brought up to shame them into acting a certain way at times. “You don’t care about me” “You’re heartless” “You’re so closed up” are words used at times to force men to share their feelings even well past their personal boundaries, I wonder if anyone has done an article on this yet?

        • Hilary Clinton was “treated that way by the media” because she went extremely negative towards Obama. In fact, the origin of most of the abuse that the Republicans throw towards Obama comes straight from the Clinton campaign.

      • Thank you, Max! I feel like the point of the original article completely slipped this author. He chose instead to isolate certain elements from the larger point to expound about how men, too, are discouraged from expressing certain emotions (in the case of men, “vulnerable” emotions) when that wasn’t even the original piece’s point WRT women in the first place. Being able to gaslight a woman into thinking she’s crazy/hysterical rests on the the existing cultural notion that women are “that way” to begin with. Whereas men face suppression of certain emotions and pressure about how they’re “supposed to be” as well, it just doesn’t fit this narrative. Why couldn’t this author just submit a piece about what men face that women don’t to perhaps accompany the original? I don’t understand, but oh, well.

  5. Mark, this is brilliant! I think you can help save the human race….!

  6. I grew up in a stereotypically emotionally repressed WASP family and to be honest, I’m often very uncomfortable around people who express strong emotions, male or female. If a friend or co-worker is very agitated or emotional about something, my first response is to try to calm them down. This has caused friction at times in my relationships with other women who feel I am devaluing their emotional experience. In a way I think I’m more like a typical man than a woman in that respect. So I sympathize with men on this issue. Not everyone is comfortable with intense emotional displays. Not everyone came from families where people argue loudly, get upset, yell, and make up again. In my family, nothing clears a room faster than one person getting upset. Telling someone they are overreacting is a way to defuse the situation and restore calm. Some cultural backgrounds value restraint and helping a person calm down is viewed as useful and appropriate, not as manipulative and invalidating. To be clear , I’m not saying it’s healthy to be repressed, and I’m not denying that some people manipulate others by being jerks (or jerk-ettes) and then accusing others of being too sensitive or over-reacting. But it could also be a sign of discomfort with emotion.

    • Up until very recently everytime an adult male yelled I immediately got flashbacks to a teacher who physically assaulted me multiple times in primary school. I’d get very nervous, shy away from confrontation from that expression of anger.

      Whilst it’s important to value and respect their feelings, it’s also important that they respect and value your own, what right do either have at controlling the others feelings? It’s just decency to not yell and abuse someone regardless of if they hurt you, annoyed you, or whatever. There are those who will literally overreact, abuse someone and then when someone asks them to calm down they can cop accusations of gaslighting. So do you allow them to verbally abuse you, or can you tell them to calm down?

      • If you believe you are being verbally abused or manipulated, I’d take a huge time out and get away from that person physically if possible.

        Move into a conversation via email perhaps. Get things in writing you can parse. Calling someone crazy who is acting in a truly manipulative manner isn’t gonna help is it? Only make them more aggressive in their attempts to manipulate.

        • Depends I guess if you can “wake them up” to their behaviour, maybe they don’t see it as bad as it is. Is it possible to let them know the behaviour is extreme, and appears to be crazy with the hope that they realize and change their behaviour even slightly? Still be mad, still be able to express feelings etc but do so in a better way?

  7. I agree with most of this article’s criticism of Ali’s article, but one thing that Ali got right that this article erred on was summarizing the movie from which the term “Gaslighting” is drawn:

    From Ali’s article:

    The term comes from the 1944 MGM film, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman. Bergman’s husband in the film, played by Charles Boyer, wants to get his hands on her jewelry. He realizes he can accomplish this by having her certified as insane and hauled off to a mental institution. To pull of this task, he intentionally sets the gaslights in their home to flicker off and on, and every time Bergman’s character reacts to it, he tells her she’s just seeing things. In this setting, a gaslighter is someone who presents false information to alter the victim’s perception of him or herself.

    From this article:

    The process is called “gaslighting”, in reference to a 1940′s film where a husband tries to drive his wife crazy by purposely refusing to acknowledge her perception of events in the world.

    The key component of gaslighting that Ali correctly noted was that it involved intentionally manipulating the victim’s environment, and denying that anything was going on, with the intention of making her think she was going crazy. This article’s summary (Greene’s) leaves out the deliberate manipulation to make someone who isn’t crazy think she is.

    The irony is that even though Ali got the etymology right, what his very popular article goes on to describe and criticize is a more mundane emotional insensitivity. If a man tells a woman she’s over-reacting, when he believes she’s over-reacting, that’s not gaslighting. It doesn’t mean he’s right, and his empathy and communication skills could probably be better, but it’s not gaslighting unless he deliberately screwed with her environment to disorient her, with the intent of making her think she’s crazy when he knows she’s not.

    I think there is validity to the points that women are perceived as “hysterical” or “over-reacting” more often than they deserve (as Ali said), and that men are confined to a narrow range of acceptable emotion (as Greene says). I think both are issues worth trying to address and improve on, but neither one is a form of gaslighting. In my opinion, calling such things “gaslighting” is…an over-reaction. It turns an emotional misunderstanding into a conspiracy theory that whoever hurt your feelings (by thinking you over-reacted or suppressing your feelings) is intentionally invalidating you in an attempt to get you to doubt your own sanity. That’s just crazy.

    • Wow, this actually makes a lot of sense, thank-you! I always wondered why it seemed strange to hear his term being used when calling a woman crazy in an argument is probably done because the person actually believes they’re acting crazy.

      • And if they believe they are acting crazy, what better way to clear things up than to call the woman crazy! That’ll fix it.

        • Pursuitace says:

          Difference in male/female communication Julie. I’ve found after 50 years (and it’s taken me all of that long) that with men I can often use a type of speech shorthand. With women it’s communication long hand. Otherwise I find myself saying things like, “What ARE you talking about”. “I never said THAT”. “That’s NOT what I meant.”

        • It’s worked sometimes, the other realizes their actions might be extreme. Hell I’ve had people say it to me. I think it varies though, a difference between acting crazy, and calling someone plain old crazy. Saying they’re acting crazy would probably mean they are quite different to how they are normally, but for the woman I knew she was just completely n utterly confusing to me, very unique. One day nice, next day complete n utter bitch and I’ve racked my mind trying to figure out why, I could guess maybe mental illness or just extreme stress. I’ve known others who get angry when you do something wrong, but this woman was being triggered into a ball of hate for saying hello to her at the wrong time for instance. Maybe Volatile is a better word?

          I have discussed with her that her behaviour seems strange, she’s even agreed with me and apparently she hears it a lot from others, I tried to offer advice on how to deal with stress etc and she seemed appreciative of it. I tried quite hard in fact to make her actually understand she wasn’t crazy, but her actions were confusing as hell to me and tried hard to help her reduce stress, love herself more but in the end it was just too much. I can deal with anger but I can’t deal with people being extremely abusive with words and using very personal attacks.

    • Quite right Marcus. The original article was 95% fabrication and 5% pulp. It was fabricated top down – starting with a concept called gas lighting and shaping a grave story around it, hitting key points of exaggeration for crowd affirmation. The analysis should have been written for Yahoo news. I’ve noticed this phenomenon grow with the Internet – good writers and story tellers, who pen electronic stories, have become a substitute for good thinkers. The two are not interchangeable.

    • This happens a lot in the process of demonizing men.

      Take some gender difference, and polarize it as women are righteous victims, and men are fully knowing, intentionally causing harm to women in order to reap rewards…. ABUSE!!!!!

      Male privilege, man-splaining, sexual consent, etc.

      A lot of people don’t seem to know what the “oxygen of life and love” even is, much less how to seek and find it. Let’s see if this article gets 10,000 facebook “likes” by tomorrow.

      • Patrick says:

        I think this comment deserved to be dredged back up.

        Yes, some women are genuinely hateful and abusive towards men. Just like some men are genuinely hateful and abusive towards women.

        Are you trying to imply that male privilege, man-splaining, and sexual consent consent are either the fiction of delusional women or a calculated manipulation on their part?

        Because I’m having a hard time seeing how THAT isn’t sexist.

        • Soullite says:

          Yes, man-splaining is BS. All it means in practice is ‘OMG, this man had the temerity to disagree with me, and there he goes explaining his opinions!’.

          The term is in, in and of itself, a sexist attempt to shut people up.

          Do you really think that nobody ever uses these terms as a sword instead of a shield?

  8. Thank you for this much needed response article.
    It’s true, our culture passionately suppresses emotional, intuitive, feeling states… But that’s not just something that happens to women. To assert otherwise doesn’t make sense, unless one assumes that men are without the capacity for emotion, intuition, and feeling.
    We’re all the same deep down, with the same capacities, and at the receiving end of the same suppression. It’s the times we’re in.
    Thanks again for being as curious about, and well informed about, the male and female experience of gaslighting, not just the female experience.

  9. RedRider says:

    Having not read the Ali article, I’m taking all of this in for the first time. The only thing with which I take issue is the statistic comparing instances of physical abuse among male and female populations, claiming that women are more often the aggressor than is acknowledged. The writer failed to mention how many instances of abuse were perpetuated by an aggressor of the victims’ own gender, as in homosexual cases. I consider that relevant information.

    • Hi Redrider

      You can see a breakdown on how often the female is the aggressor in this CDC data.

      Results. Almost 24% of all relationships had some violence, and half (49.7%) of those were reciprocally violent. In nonreciprocally violent relationships, women were the perpetrators in more than 70% of the cases. Reciprocity was associated with more frequent violence among women (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=2.3; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.9, 2.8), but not men (AOR=1.26; 95% CI=0.9, 1.7). Regarding injury, men were more likely to inflict injury than were women (AOR=1.3; 95% CI=1.1, 1.5), and reciprocal intimate partner violence was associated with greater injury than was nonreciprocal intimate partner violence regardless of the gender of the perpetrator (AOR=4.4; 95% CI=3.6, 5.5).

      Read More: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2005.079020

  10. Lezlie Parsons Daniel says:

    “The gift of the act of listening, decoupled from immediately REACTING can create a holding space for the emotions of others. ”

    This is beautifully stated. When I express sadness, frustration, fear or disappointment, it does not mean that there is anything ‘wrong’ with me or ‘broken’ that need fixing. Often, I am expressing my need to be ‘held’ emotionally. I want to be heard. I want to be respected. I want to be free to be entirely intimate. To allow my partner and for my partner to allow me this grace of personhood, is the greatest of pleasures and opens the door to many earthly delights.
    Peace on your journey, Mr. Greene

    ~Lezlie

  11. According to the CDC 2010 report 12 month data, men are significantly more likely to experience psychological abuse – 13.9 women / 18.1 men (gaslighting would fall under psychological abuse).

    The original gaslighting article was enormously irresponsible.

  12. “When you invite people to view themselves as victims of this kind, you leave out a very important participant in the narrative.’

    Mark, this is a very important point. You didn’t go deeper into it because you were dealing with other aspects of the article, but what Ali is doing is actually quite misogynst. It is a form of male supremacy to frame the problem like this.

    His heart may or may not be in the right place, frankly. He may just think it is. Assuming women are helpless is the first step to making them that way.

  13. Quadruple A says:

    This is probably one of the best and most well balanced article on GMP that I’ve read. I’ve seen a lot of bad articles on here that lack critical thinking and tend toward a sexist bias against men (and unconsciously women) but every once in a while a gem turns up and this is one of them.

    There is an amazing lack of genuine dialogue between the sexes and I find it happens very often when I do talk about gender or sexuality with women that the women I am conversing with wants to turn the issue into what other men think or say rather than listening to what I think or feel. It is a pattern that becomes exasperating.

    “A remark intended to shut you down like, “Calm down, you’re overreacting,” after you just addressed someone else’s bad behavior, is emotional manipulation—pure and simple.” – This is so transparently wrong that I am amazed that anyone can take it seriously and yet it illustrates a pattern which is so common in mainstream feminist discourse. Consider the following definition of mansplaining which has become so popular many feminists in the internet community.

    “Mansplaining is when a dude tells you, a woman, how to do something you already know how to do, or how you are wrong about something you are actually right about, or miscellaneous and inaccurate “facts” about something you know a hell of a lot more about than he does.”
    http://scienceblogs.com/thusspakezuska/2010/01/you_may_be_a_mansplainer_if.php

    Of course if this is taken literally it means that if you say something a woman already know then your a condescending patriarchal jerk. Yet feminist rhetoric is often written in a way that taken literally would mean something that the creator of the rhetoric would probably deny. (but maybe not in a literal way!)
    Why is this? I think it reveals how their unconscious tendency to assume that anything and everything is misogynistic.

    Ginko wrote: “but what Ali is doing is actually quite misogynst. It is a form of male supremacy to frame the problem like this.” – What Ali was doing was paternalistic and possibly chauvinistic but to call him misogynistic is to miss a significant point of the article.

    • Treating women like children who need the protection of a man, Ali in this case, is misogyny. Full stop. White knighting is misogyny. Ali is misogynist.

      If you look at a lot of oppressions that women face, they have their roots in this insistence on treating women like fragile little treasures who have to be protected.

      • Treating women like “fragile little treasures” is not displaying a hatred of women. You can say it is bad for women, or oppressive to women. (I would say it depends on the particular circumstances.) But it is not misogyny.

  14. The original article would not have gendered this form of psychological abuse were in not for a politically motivated misinformation and cover up campaign about abuse that’s been running since the 1970s.

  15. Which comment?

  16. Here’s what I find interesting; the technique of “calming down” is something big part of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. In some ways, anger isn’t a productive way of dealing with a situation. Everyone – whether or not they have a psychological issue. – is subject to cognitive distortions (which, needless to say, are not the same things as delusions) I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with trying to calm someone down.

    In fact, many of the coh motive distortions – especially all-or-nothing thinking and mind reading – are on display in your average online discussion.

    • I think it’s meant to be bad when you tell someone to calm down and don’t allow them ever to express their anger. I do think there are times that people need to tell others to calm down, take a break, leave for a minute or 2 and let that initial anger and adrenaline rush to drop down a bit. That adrenaline can push people into action too quickly without thinking, I’ve done it plenty of times myself before when I was depressed where I am caught in the moment, get the urge to put a fist into the wall just from sheer anger n frustration. Thing is if I wait a minute that anger usually has dropped quite a bit, people say and do things in the heat of the moment that they may later regret. Telling people to cool off is not bad in my books if they are really peaking in anger levels, it doesn’t mean the person is trying to stop the other expressing their emotion, but simply they want them to do so with a clearer head.

      It’s far easier to communicate with someone when they are much calmer, can speak without yelling (a common trigger for peoples defensiveness), can refrain from saying hurtful things, and other actions which can quickly close a person off to communication. I’d like to ask the women here how beneficial it’d be to communicate your grievances whilst being extremely angry? Do you think people will take it in the way you want or do you think it’ll probably trigger defensiveness, start an argument, etc? If I was yelling in your face, being aggressive, what would you do? Allow it to happen because I am expressing my emotions? Or would you be telling me to back off, calm down, talk to you when I am calmer?

  17. Miss Information says:

    This piece and the comments on it would be so much more compelling if they hadn’t missed the point so completely. Really, if this piece were not meant to address Yashar’s piece, it would be a nice thoughtful meditation on respect and healthy communication. However, as it is, it does more to illustrate the precise problem that Yashar points out. The problem is not telling a woman that she’s being emotional, when she’s being emotional, or even dismissing her for being emotional when she’s being emotional (although, yes indeed, dismissing people’s emotions is all-too-common in our society but that’s *not* the point of Yashar’s piece). Gaslighting, as Yashar defines it, is telling someone she (or possibly he but it is, indeed, usually women) is being unreasonable or irrational when she is not. To use one of Yashar’s example, teasing someone about her weight, and then telling her she’s overly sensitive when she gets annoyed, is not dismissing her for being emotional, it’s dismissing her perfectly reasonable reaction as irrational. There is a difference. Nor does Yashar imply that men are all evil, evil beings, or that women are all victims of gaslighting; indeed, he explicitly states that they are not.
    To miss the point like this is it’s very own intellectual form of gaslighting, known as the straw-man argument. You can’t refute the argument that someone actually made, so you offer a weaker misrepresentation of that argument in order to knock it down. Fine, you don’t like Yashar’s piece. It makes you uncomfortable, it holds up a mirror whose reflection you’d rather not see, be honest about that. Yesh.

    • Quadruple A says:

      “To miss the point like this is it’s very own intellectual form of gaslighting, known as the straw-man argument. ”

      I don’t know whether to take this seriously or as a joke. A strawman argument is not a form of gaslighting.

      I also don’t think that anyone thinks that it isn’t appropriate to get upset when someone teases a woman about their weight. Men are taught from a young age that that sort of thing will make a woman upset.

      There is something very over the top about much of internet feminist discourse. Are you for real? Or do you call yourself “Miss Information” because you are deliberately trolling?

      MOD EDIT: Please avoid personal attacks on other commentators.

    • First, Yashar did not coin the term “gaslighting”, so he doesn’t get to re-define it as “telling someone she…is being unreasonable or irrational when she is not”. Feel free to come up with some other word that means that, and call it rude or insensitive or whatever, but it’s not gaslighting, for reasons I’ve already elaborated in earlier comments.

      Second, a straw-man argument is not in any way an “intellectual form of gaslighting”. You come close to giving an accurate definition of what a straw-man argument is, but there’s nothing remotely gaslighting about it. It’s not just a word for being mean to a woman or arguing badly. The fact that the word denotes a very deliberate maliciousness is why it shouldn’t be thrown around so carelessly to describe people who often genuinely believe that someone else is overreacting.

      Finally, it’s wishful thinking to conclude that if someone disagrees with an argument that resonated with you, it must be because deep down, they’re really just uncomfortable at the truths it exposed about themselves that they’d rather not face. I probably don’t have to tell you that, though, because I can tell that deep down, you already agree with Greene and just can’t be honest with yourself so you’re grasping at straws to hang on to the gaslighting you though you knew.

    • The humor in both of the replies ignoring her original point and holding on to what she defines as gas lighting and straw manning is almost unbearable. I think what the op was trying to say is that they’re both forms of derailing. In any case I agree that this article reads better as a sharing of men’s experiences instead of as a critique of Ali’s article because that was NOT an article written to belittle men’s experiences or to demonize all men It was meant as a way to address A LOT of women’s experiences. This is more of a “part 2” in a series of articles on gender troubles.

      I do think Mark has his heart in the right place because some of his points argue against femme-phobia.

  18. This was a really great article. It’s kind of a shame that it doesn’t seem to be getting as much attention as the article it is in response to. You make some really great points. It always upsets me when people make sweeping statements about how men treat women or how women treat men. It’s sad when people take such a serious issue and run with it, painting a large group of people as the perpetrators.

    Everything is case by case. The fact is, some women act crazy. Some men act crazy as well. Some men gaslight women. Some women gaslight men. All of us can be confused by our emotions or other’s emotions. We are human beings. Sometimes people do over react and sometimes we perceive them to be overreacting even when they might not be. That doesn’t mean people have the intention of doing everything that gas-lighting claims to be.

    I think something that the entire concept of accusing people of gas lighting misses is this. Why do the people who are “gas lighting” feel that the person is over reacting? Aren’t we gas-lighting those people by simply accusing them of gas-lighting instead of wondering why they feel the way they feel? Am I now talking in circles?

    You slightly touched on this by talking about how people could throw “maybe” in there but I think it’s possible most people over react at many points in their lives. I agree with you that sometimes people need to hear that they are being reactionary. People need to be talked down from extreme emotions and sometimes need the help looking at why they feel the way they feel instead of making brash statements like “Everybody hates me” or “My boss is the meanest person ever”. There is always a kernel of truth in everything but it’s not always out of line to tell someone they are blowing the situation out of proportion.

  19. D.R. Bartlette says:

    And let’s not forget that not that long ago, women were frequently sent away to horrifying sanitariums on the basis of being “overly emotional” or “hysterical.” The movie Changeling shows a little bit of this.
    Thankfully it is harder to commit adult women involuntarily, but for young (minor) women, it does still happen…

    • D.R. I was just wondering if that happened to men as well. I don’t have any like horse int he race per say but I’m pretty sure not that long ago a lot of people were getting sent away to horrifying sanitariums for a lot of reasons back in the day. Was/is there a disproportionate amount of females to males being sent away for the wrong reasons and if so do you have some data to back that up?

    • Mark Neil says:

      Given how frequent emotional and psychological problems are used to excuse women’s dangerous, violent and criminal behaviors (and get them out of jail), perhaps it isn’t such a good thing it’s become so much harder?

  20. I agree that we all (both sexes) need to liberate ourselves from “ought to/should” standards that are imposed on us by the many so-called authorities in our lives. Not to do so is certain misery. I take issue with the author’s declaration of men facing the same social repression as women face, however. It’s hard for me to remember a time when a man was called hysterical, over emotional, over-reactive or irrational, yet one only need look to any paper, movie or television show, or listen to men complain, and you can hardly escape hearing those adjectives applied to women. I do believe that expressing a wide range of emotion evokes discomfort in many men, and rather than face culpability for their discomfort, they find it easier to make the expressive person wrong in some way. I do think it’s good to have this conversation, whether in this article or any other, as that’s the first step for gaining and spreading awareness, and there is much to contemplate around this topic.

    • I’ve had people tell me I am crazy, irrational, telling me to calm down when I have shown my anger. Men have often recieved the crazy label, over-reacting, etc especially after showing anger. Male anger is often suppressed and thought of as dangerous, violent, abusive. The other may say they are fearful, when the guy is angry at nothing to do with her/him, then treated like he is a caveman with limited emotions, that he is just a brute, a meathead, a neanderthal. Some men will be seen as psycho, creepy, weird, have anger issues, irrational, etc.

      Maybe it’s society hasn’t taught us how to deal with someone else’s expression of emotion, someone might feel scared at anger, someone might feel overloaded by someone else expressing emotion. Quite a lot of men when given a problem want to FIX it, and they may not know how to so they might say calm down in an attempt to soothe the other person but this could come across as condescending or dismissive of that persons emotions. When someone is upset, I try to calm them down, make them happier, take their pain away, if I can’t at times I will feel like I have failed and it’s a horrible feeling.

      I think these issues are far more complex than simply women are seen as crazy/hysterical, the majority of the criminally insane society thinks of are MEN. It’s not just women who are seen as crazy.

      • Thanks for sharing your experiences, Archy. I’ve worked most of my life in the field of communications. After 3- years, it has become blatantly obvious that people are generally lousy at communicating to each other what they want and how they feel. Always, we perceive “the other” through the veil of our own beliefs, attitudes and experiences, which can throw slants on our assumptions and reactions. Adding to this challenge is what you say: men spontaneously go into a mode of wanting to “fix” whatever is presented as upsetting or not right. As a woman, I can’t tell you how many times this particular male trait has made me feel crazy! In the movie “White Men Can’t Jump,” there’s a great and hilarious scene wherein the starring couple discuss this very clash between the sexes in relating and communicating. The woman just wants to share her experience to create bonding; the man wants to fix what he thinks she is presenting as a need.

        But a bottom line in all of this is that it’s 2012, and everyone is either a little crazy or totally numb.

        Thanks for the conversation. 😉

        • No probs, I’ve noticed a few women doign the fix it stuff now too, it’s interesting. I have expressed a concern, an emotion, and the other person has said “Well, I dunno what I can do to fix it” as if they expected me to fix it, when simply I am venting. Mostly it’s men I notice doing this, I use to do it but now I’ve learned to stop assuming they want help and treat it as venting, just wanting to express themselves. If they want help they need to specifically tell me and I’ll gladly help, otherwise I’ll try empathize and accept what they have to say. Before I learned this I use to feel like a failure a lot if I couldn’t fix it, it was sooo frustrating. Being raised to want to fix stuff, protect, help, make sadness n pain go away can get annoying at times.

          I think from birth, and primary school we all need to learn more effective communication skills, get rid of the gendered language and simply allow individuals to be themselves and communicate how they are with guidance on how to better communicate in a way others can understand.

          Thanks as well for the conversation. 😀

  21. Wow, what a morass of victim-blaming and standard derailment techniques.

    #1 http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Patriarchy_hurts_men_too

    #2 This is total victim-blaming. Since women are not 100% powerless, they must share responsibility for when gaslighting is done to them. Yes, and I’m sure, since women have the power to dress themselves, that if a woman wears the “wrong thing” then she’s partially responsible for being raped. Oh, or she could have carried pepper spray! It’s totally her fault that she got raped, she could have fought back. Or… not.

    #3 If your relationship is so fragile that your partner is likely to break it off based on Ali’s article, it’s probably better broken off. In our society, we have much more problems with women failing to break off bad relationships than the opposite. Hell, if your partner thinks you’re gaslighting her and you aren’t, maybe the relationship isn’t a good one for *you*.

    #4 Yes, sometimes people actually over-react. All Ali does is call for re-evaluating how often one does this to women, rather than men. Just because some Afro-Americans actually like watermelon doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to keep perpetuating those racist sterotypes. And as for binary anti-male thinking, Ali even talks about the sad case of a women complicit in her own gaslighting, joking about how all women are crazy.

    #5 Okay, what sort of verbal judo is this? You’ve never met anyone who undermines their own point while making it? How is this strength?

    #6 When someone is talking about how an oppressed class of people are being oppressed, they are not required to bend over backward to talk about how not all the oppressors are bad people.

    Imagine I wrote an article about how Japanese-Americans were put into interment camps by white Americans during WWII while its was still going on. Now, imagine this response:

    “The white people in his article are two dimensional bullies that show no capacity for compassion or empathy. It makes for heightened drama and a great third act, but Kirt is not writing entertainment. He is attempting to address real and painful situation. And he is doing so in a way that is ultimately not helpful to white people and Japanese people alike. We know that white men are not two dimensional villains from the silver screen. White people are highly emotional creatures with vast capacities to love and be loved. Whites can be spiritual healers and primary parents. They can be loving partners and caring teachers. And in all these roles, they encourage all races alike to explore and share their emotions, to communicate their challenges and air their grievances.”

    Why isn’t that ridiculous? Why, when reporting something bad, do you have to go out of your way to talk about the potential good as well? Why is the burden on Ali, here? The burden is on men (and women, as some women aid in the oppression of other women) to act better, rather than getting defensive and expecting people talking about a bad social situation to spend a paragraph waxing poetic about how awesome men are.

    • Dear Kirt,
      Your post is a valuable addition to this dialogue because it shows what I would call a race to go binary. It’s these totally binary conversations that have bogged down much of our public discourse, forcing people to choose sides and encouraging people to generalize and blame.
      In your case, you seem to need men to be the bad guys in order to support some specific world view. You seem to want every man in the world to be labeled “guilty until proven innocent.” Too bad, really. You’re missing out on a much more nuanced and rewarding conversation going on in the world between men and women of good will, who are sincerely seeking to find a path forward out of the quagmire of sexism, racism and all the other of the world’s ills. Which, by the way, is the conversation that is helping men grow and change. Women, too.

      • Um, you are aware I’m also a man, right? I guess I should applaud you for not assuming gender based on my name, from the cautious way you talk here. :)

        I have to say I’m literally flabbergasted by this non-response and your refusal to engage with ANY of the points I made. For example, did you even read the link I posted for #1?

        Maybe this will help more:

        http://blog.shrub.com/archives/tekanji/2006-03-08_146

        Take particular note of the following points:

        * Learn to Listen Rather Than Speak
        * Criticism is Not Hatred
        * Don’t Make It About You
        * If You’re Not the Problem, Then You’re Not the Problem

        Also, try this thought experiment: Replace the word “gaslighting” in your article with “punching” and tell me if it still sounds as reasonable as you think it is.

        • Um….

          A punch is a punch. Gaslighting is gaslighting.

          Your analogy is meaningless because unlike Japanese-American internment is a) not an institutional oppression and b) not exclusive to one gender. In the original article, one man described a situation in which his GF was clearly verbally abusing him and minimizing it.

        • Kirt.
          Its interesting that you bring up punching. As if that is an example of an action that is somehow primarily the domain of men. I would not write an article about punching in any different way than I wrote this one. In part because assigning punching to men only would be wrong, just like assigned any form of abuse to men only would be wrong; gaslighting or otherwise. Look at the stats on physical violence in the CDC report.

          As I wrote in my article: It’s a fact that women have the potential to be just as emotionally and physically abusive as men. For some insight, look at the CDC’s statistics on physical abuse in relationships by gender. The report states: “More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.”(1)

          As for responding to all your other points. My response to your points are in the original article. I am content to let them stand as written.

          • Michael Rowe says:

            Great piece, Mark, as usual. And, also as usual, kudos on handling some of the less reasonable and more overwrought reactions, which always seem to take the place of dialogue, which in turn polarizes the sexes even further.

        • Mark Neil says:

          “Um, you are aware I’m also a man, right?”

          I see no-where where he made an assertion of what gender you were. I do see where he notes observations of your apparent hatred of men, and the reasonings for that observation. As a man, you are perfectly cappable of being self loathing, you are perfectly cappable of believing you are the rare exception to the evils of all other men. So his assertion of your attitudes towards men does not preclude you from being one.

          “Learn to Listen Rather Than Speak”

          Like you did with this article?

          “Criticism is Not Hatred”

          Have you not treated Mark’s criticism of Ali as hostile or hatred? Does Ali’s argument not imply criticism of women is hatred?

          “Don’t Make It About You”

          You mean like you are forcing it back into Alie’s original woman only binary? Or like Ali did in the first place by making it only women are victims?

          “If You’re Not the Problem, Then You’re Not the Problem”

          Ali’s injection of motive states men are the problem. Your post supports such an assertion.

          Perhaps you should have listened more closely to the very article you linked, instead of just using it as talking points to silence others.

    • “The burden is on men (and women, as some women aid in the oppression of other women) to act better, rather than getting defensive and expecting people talking about a bad social situation to spend a paragraph waxing poetic about how awesome men are.”
      I think Mark is trying to say basically that not all men do this, some women also do this to men, and portraying it in a stereotypical generalized view isn’t helpful. Isn’t the burden on both to be decent to both genders?

      Generalizing about it all isn’t really helpful, it can sound like men as a group are bad, instead of individual men are bad.

    • Imagine I wrote an article about how Japanese-Americans were put into interment camps by white Americans during WWII while its was still going on.

      Wow, what a horrible analogy. Erase male victims more, please.

    • The Blurpo says:

      ” The burden is on men (and women, as some women aid in the oppression of other women) to act better, rather than getting defensive and expecting people talking about a bad social situation to spend a paragraph waxing poetic about how awesome men are.”

      hmm, no I disagree.

      The burden shouldn be on men and some women, but the burden is on both MEN and WOMEN. Practically the entire society. Not just a random faction of it. And the reason is because it is a generaliced pattern that manifest in each of us. Ali’s article failed, because he simply assembled stereotypes and facts from the society, witch he knew are popular between women and some men, reinforcing the binary conception of genders. But simply because its popular and based on modern memes doesent make it true.

    • Kirt-

      From that “patriarchy hurts men too” link you posted. “Rather than derailing conversations about and between women, men who want to discuss male identity, masculinity and the patriarchy need to create new discussions in spaces that aren’t marked as women-centred.”

      This is exactly that space, making you entirely wrong to import that dismissive phrase.

    • Adrogyony says:

      Kirt :) FTW! Valid points, you summed up so nicely what I was thinking…..

      Moderator Note: Edited to remove personal insult

    • Peter Houlihan says:

      “Imagine I wrote an article about how Japanese-Americans were put into interment camps by white Americans during WWII while its was still going on. Now, imagine this response:”

      That’s not quite godwinning, but it’s close. The two aren’t comparable because the internment of japanese americans was an example of something very one sided. Gaslighting and sexism, as this article points out, is a two way street.

    • Thank you for your excellent response to this. I believe the author of this response is trivializing the issue, and using standard deflecting techniques.
      I am NOT impressed.

      • Finally. I so agree. I am concerned with this approach at critiquing the work of another on the basis that it isn’t all encompassing of EVERYONE’s perspective. We all have the *right* to *write* about anything we like, and from any perspective, without always feeling obliged to exhaust every angle. It’s like, I say, “today is my birthday, and everything that could possibly go wrong, has gone wrong.” and someone responds with, “You’re not the only one having a birthday today. Lots of people are. And just because the day hasn’t worked out well for you doesn’t mean you should ruin it for everyone else. Some of us are having a wonderful day! Maybe the fact that you are having a bad day has something to do with you. … blah, blah, blah. Ironically, I feel that Mark’s “response” is a prime example of the type of tactics to which Yashar Ali referred in his article– dismissing or attaching blame to someone for expressing how they feel or react to something important to them.

  22. I think your first point is the crux of the problem. As a society, we lack a penchant for nuance. We like to appropriate all of a certain characteristic to one group and define that group (in part) by that characteristic and define the groups opposite by the opposite characteristic.

    For example, men are generally taller than women. So we conclude that Tall = Man, and More Tall = More Man. Short men are weird because Men Are Tall. Tall women are weird because Women Are Short. We want to shift all the tallness to men and all the shortness to women, because “Men = Tall” is easier than “Men are, on average, generally taller than women, however, there are many short men and many tall women”.

    We have, I believe, as a society, done this with emotional expression. Men are stoic, women are emotional. Men are, from a young age, socialized not to show certain emotions, while women, from a young age, are socialized to believe they are inherently emotional creatures. A crying man is weird because Stoic = Man and a woman who gets quiet when upset is weird because Emotional = Woman.

    So we socialize one group to be unemotional and the other to be emotional. Then we’re shocked (?) when they unemotional group says to the emotional ones “You’re too emotional.” Or when the emotional ones say to the unemotional ones “You don’t have any emotional intelligence at all, do you?”

    Men don’t dismiss womens emotions as an attempt to abuse or silence them. Men often consider women overemotional (IMO) for the same reason a person who is 5’2 considers a person who is 6’1 to be “tall”.

    • missfirecracker says:

      Wow sorry but people are twisting what he is saying, having g experienced this myself a lot I completely understand how mentally abusive and exhausting gas lighting is. Who are we to say someone is overreacting, to them they are not. That’s like saying you shouldn’t feel that way because I don’t feel that way. Plus most of the time gas lighting isn’t just one comment about overreacting its several derogatory remarks and being called crazy, mocked at, and laughed at all at once. He is not speaking of once in a while or when somebody just burst out all of a sudden for no reason in anger, but when you. calmly and nicely try to address an issue or have valid evidence in your hand and the person gets dwfensive, manipulative, abusive, and calls you crazy when they clearly are the one that was wrong. Its called projecting and turning the situation around and yes it happens a lot. So I disagree with you and think the good man project is right on. It was no mistake I stumbled upon his article for no reason last night having just went thru it in the worst way by my bf and have went thru it my whole life from my mother. Obviously someone was trying to tell me something and let me know I am not alone or crazy. So thank you to the good men project for bringing this to light!

      • Because sometimes people do overreact?

        I have overreacted to things in the past, and my friends have told me to calm down. Then I usually calm down and see that they were right.

        You have an all or nothing way of looking at this issue. Sometimes “calm down” is used in an abusive gas-lighting way, other times it is used to stop a person who is overreacting from committing an action that will hurt themselves or others.

  23. David Byron says:

    I thought the article was victimry porn. Over elaborate wallowing in self-congratulatory misery. Telling women that they are entitled to feel like they are victims because of something utterly normal and trivial that happens to everyone, men or women. And of course as ever men are the bogeymen.

    Sorry, but I don’t think anyone should take it seriously any more than any kind of porn is intended to be taken seriously as an intellectual exercise. It was entertainment. You might as well analyze “Big Jugs Volume 127” for it’s insights. I honestly don’t think this stuff is mentally healthy for women but apparently they love it. That’s why Lifetime has some many movies about women being attacked by men.

    I mean that description (“porn”) as a metaphor obviously (like Saw being “horror porn” as someone said recently). But if you had to pick some sort of thing that really messes people up for consuming it then I think this sort of victimry porn would be way ahead. Anyone who was actually interested in women’s rights would be opposed to that sort of nonsense I would think.

  24. I think what we’re talking about here is how to develop helpful communication skills that support the person we are talking to feel valued and respected and cared for and confident to be themselves and express themselves in an open and safe way.

    I think the suggestion that we stop gaslighting is valid… and I also agree that it applies to both genders – ie. its possible that women do this unhelpful communication to men sometimes too. AND its also possible that that women do it to other women – (friends or partners). ie. I’ve had female friends “gaslight” me too. And similarly men “gaslight” other men as well (friends or partners).

    The point is that it feels bad to the person being “gaslighted”. It feels bad when we devalue or disallow people to feel what they are feeling. Instead a more enjoyable (but not always easy) task is to cultivate empathy and the ability to hear and “be with” emotion – our own and other peoples – and be ok with it. And learn how to respond and communicate well with each other so that we have intimacy, respect, love and appreciation present in our relationships and communication.

    Just like cooking, lots of us can make meat and 3 veg, but if we want a gourmet meal it takes learning and practicing. The same goes for love, communication… and if I can be a bit cheeky… sex! So if we want beautiful, attractive, tasty relationships… it takes a bit of learning and practicing :)

    That’s my 2cents xx

  25. Not buying it says:

    The whole “gaslighting” term seems to be a tool or a technique in which the party A with the illogical idea or comment can force another party B to not just only listen carefully & think about what party A said, but to agree with with A.

    Another way of saying , A controls the narrative & the rules in which the discussion should be had.

    • Yes. well, I can imagine a circumstance where someone, male or female, might confuse listening or honoring what is being said with agreeing. In other words, If your not agreeing with me, you’re gaslighting me. The nuances of communication can be lost when someone is predisposed to see something like gaslighting at play. The conversation is, shall we say, guilty until proven innocent.

  26. Really good article. It answered all of the “but what about…” questions I had while reading ‘Why Women Aren’t Crazy’. Ali’s is a great 101 article; yours is the perfect advanced class complement to thinking critically about the problem and how to solve it. :)

  27. Also wanted to say – the two articles work so well together, my inner conspiracy theorist thinks you both collaborated on it. :) Nice job, I feel informed.

  28. caroline kloppert says:

    while we’re on race to go….. Mr Greene you remind me of white south africans who love to say… we were also damaged by apartheid…..LOL LOL LOL
    I hope you have enough humor to appreciate what I am saying to you. The gender inequalities in this world are staggering, even inside the good old US of A. But the minute anyone tries to adress a particular symptom, or form of oppression there come a flood of male geeks arguing that they too have experienced oppression…yet oddly, when I Iook around me, and at you, all I see is this dance of death, this gender farce, you mention that one in four men has been raped or abused or stalked… as if women were equally guilty of raping and stalking… very sly omissions there… do you cite the relative murder by spouse statistics…no… because they totally disprove your attempts to say there isn’t a gender problem. God bless you and your wife and I hope that “working on your relationship” isn’t done with the same gaslighting blindness you exhibit in your website…………

    (If this had gotten stopped by moderation it would have been removed. However due to the rather fitting responses I’ll let it go. Mark, Mark, and Archy, thanks. – GMP Moderator)

    • Mark Neil says:

      “do you cite the relative murder by spouse statistics…no… because they totally disprove your attempts to say there isn’t a gender problem. ”

      The only one denying there is a gender issue is you, by your denial that men could possibly have issues. Saying “hey, women aren’t the only victims here” is not the same as saying women aren’t victims.

      Are you a feminist by chance?

      (I was tempted to remove that last line but since I didn’t edit the comment you’re replying to it wouldn’t be right to edit yours here. By all means call them on the denial but please let the questions of identification go. Thanks. – GMP Moderator)

    • Hi Caroline,
      If I understand correctly here, what you are saying is women never harm men? Or don’t harm enough of them for those who are hurt to matter? Wow. That’s an amazing thing to say.
      Allow me to quote my article, since your “dance of death” seeming to be side stepping some of it.

      For some insight, look at the CDC’s statistics on physical abuse in relationships by gender. The report states: “More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.”(1)

      We’re talking violence and rape committed in relationships by men and women. Period.

      So, your attempt at silencing male victims, your “LOL response” seems pretty crass and insensitive. Watch out. People will think you’re acting like a man.

      • Mostly_123 says:

        Am I crazy for thinking that the axis of virtue or villiany is NOT gender (or race, religion, class, ethnicity, and so on)?

        If a murderer happens to be male or female, that’s a characteristic of one who is a murderer; not characteristic TO murderers. Murderers are not representative of males (or females); but gender (among other demographics) are a way of representing murderers. One has to ask what is representative of what.

    • Well if it helps, the cdc found 40% of rapists in 2010 were female, and equal numbers of men n women were raped. But hey, bury your head in the sand more if it makes you feel better.

      • Quadruple A says:

        “Well if it helps, the cdc found 40% of rapists in 2010 were female, and equal numbers of men n women were raped. But hey, bury your head in the sand more if it makes you feel better.” –
        Do you have a source for that?

        • Mark Neil says:

          http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/NISVS_Report2010-a.pdf

          On page 24 it describes that virtually all women reported their rapists were male, and 79.2% of men who were forced to penetrate described their attackers were female. Do note that the very definition of rape used by the CDC made “forced to penetrate” a non-rape crime, so that factor needs to be taken into account. Based on Tables 2.1 and 2.2, the 12 month figures for female rape victims and male “forced to penetrate” victims were both 1.1%, while male rape and female forced to penetrate were so insignificant as to be unusable.

          • Thanks, I need to make a macro, I post them so often, I’m getting sick n tired of it and sad that it wasn’t big news. It’s one of the most important findings for sexual assault in the last decade and didn’t get a mention in the news….how depressing.

            • Mark Neil says:

              One thing I noticed when going over it again that is really bothering me is, even in the assessments, it looks like male victimization was attempted to be minimalized. On page 18-19, while discussing the prevalence, it goes over the details of rape, giving all numbers found. It made sure to note that in the 12 month figures, rape was not significant enough among men to give usable numbers. But when discussing the prevalence of “forced to penetrate” it doesn’t even bother to mention the 12 month figures, only mentioning the lifetime values.

            • Exactly, They buried the stats. From what I see bias against males in stats on abuse is very common. Hell take a look at the duluth model of domestic violence n how it ignores female perpetrated violence.

          • That source gives this right up front:
            “Nearly 1 in 5 women (18.3%) and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives…” so I’m not sure where the commenter who said equal numbers of men and women were raped gets it from.

            • @MKraft, “forced to penetrate” wasn’t included as rape in the CDC stats, but the commenter is including that in the definition. The 1:1 parity happens in the “last 12 months”.

            • Mark Neil says:

              When one specifically excludes male rape victims as being rape victims, it becomes very easy to make it look like males are not really victims. The summary does that kind of wordplay in a number of areas, but rape is the most significant, and you’ll notice how often it is included in the package of violence, and how rarely domestic abuse, on it’s own (without rape tagged on) occurs. This is in order to use the exclusion of males from being rape victims to pad the numbers to make women appear to be the victims of all violence at grater numbers.

    • the Blurpo says:

      Good idea Archy….the ignorance around this issue is baffling.

  29. This article also has its heart in the right place. However, I believe the way you worded your idea about victimization might be triggering. While I personally see your point, I am also an unapologetically loud woman. I believe I can empower myself. But from a lot of women’s point of view it does feel helpless when they are gaslighted. And I don’t think you’d argue that the way we socialize women is significantly different than men, in terms of public spaces even today. So rather than brushing off Ali’s article as simply victimizing, I read it as an appeal to men to recognize it when thy do this. I know it’s seems like the article is addressed to women but the content feels like an appeal to meb’s common sense. Yes I agree that male victims are too often seen as “nonexistent,” but on the other hand women (especially adult women) victims are often judged or derided for not simply “empowering themselves” and “standing up to their advisers.” these cries often come from wry privileged people of all genders who never stop for one second to recognize the cycle of abuse and how difficult it is to get out of.

    (Edited to remove mention of an off topic question. – GMP Moderator)

  30. This is not about sexual differences. This is acting as if the most important thing about your loved ones’ emotions is that they be convenient for you. Everybody does this to everybody. Women to men, men to women, parents to children, adult children to parents. And we all do it more when we’re stressed.

    Here’s an example of the other way. My husband gets angry at things. When I was younger, it used to make me very uncomfortable. I hated his anger. He was too angry for me, but not too angry for him. So I learned not to try to soothe him right away because making him less angry was what I needed. He needed to get whatever out.

    Now he’ll blow up in a game he’s playing when I’m a spectator and instead of feeling sick inside, I sit back and enjoy the show. He’ll feel a little sheepish later, but he doesn’t feel ashamed and I certainly don’t make him feel that way. Can I tell you how much better this makes life? He’s my man, and I love him as he is.

    I believe (when we were younger) he actually said to me when I was sobbing over something, “You are being too emotional.” Literally. A direct quote. But I was being too emotional for him, not for me. I was being just the right amount of emotional for me given the circumstances. All his statement did was make me feel shitty for crying over something that was important to me. He doesn’t do this anymore. He reacts with concern. He assumes my level of emotion is correct for me and responds to it. “Wow, this sounds big. Are you going to be okay?” I fall into his arms, he holds me, and I say, “Yes.”

    • Susan’s is the most helpful comment here for my money.

      She’s realistic about the emotions at play, she gives a real life example – where Ali’s sound hypothetical – and her story inspires readers to change for the benefits changing offers instead of seeking to paralyze them with guilt and shame.

      The contrast between the helpfulness of Susan’s comment and the futility of the identity politics and victim worship going on around it suggest to me that the latter are pretty bankrupt as a force for social change.

      • Mostly_123 says:

        Good point. Generally (sorry), there are a lot of situational and relative dynamics & realities that come into play – one can’t really generalize reliably, with any good claim to unconditional objectivity, uniformity or certainty: Personal situational realities are just too diverse. It’s important to appreciate the implications that what is subjectively true for one person in one situation can be equally, validly false for another person in another subjective situation. It’s too easy to say to with certainty and objectivity that ‘men are always doing this’ or ‘women are always doing that’ – it presumes that there is ONE on objective truth, completely free from subjectivity and relativity. IMHO.

  31. As I’m guessing Green already knows, # 1 is just another expression of patriarchy. We all need more feminism. However, a man feeling trapped in this system is not in the same position as a women trapped, who is repeatedly being told that she is not trapped, that she is ‘imagining things’ and she is just being too emotional/crazy/sentimental/a shrew/a sourpuss (find other maddening adjectives).
    Just for belonging to the group of privilege, the man is in many ways in a less frustrating position. What you are saying is along the line of ‘Oh, the elites also suffer you know. They have to keep up the appearance! They have to meet these impossible expectations!’ etc etc. Of course the very class position can entrap a person in a position of power. That doesn’t mean that he/she can compare notes with those being systematically disadvantaged.
    #2 Ali didn’t portray gaslighted women as powerless. On the contrary. The less-aware gaslighted women become passive agressive. Even when they cannot properly grasp the whole structure, they do identify the outlines and contours of the double edged sword and they can/do figure out ways to navigate the possible traps set on their horizon. The fact that they don’t often manage to see the whole picture (from inside the picture) and don’t call BS on it in so many words is not their fault at all. As a woman, let me assure you, NOT ALLOWING each instance of gaslighting is not one of the options. If it were, it wouldn’t have existed as long as it did. The fact that we are speaking up against it now (after AGES of careful self-reflection to see if the fault lied with ourselves) is a form of non-allowance, OK?

  32. Hank Vandeburgh says:

    The truth is that both genders do this. And it depends on the individual. Women, who generally are more skilled psychologically, are often better than men at it. I think the issue is really “How free is an individual to dump someone who is doing this?” Because the behavior is extremely deep rooted, and no doubt comes from parental modeling. Or, in rare cases, one partner could be a sociopath.

    In Ali’s article, the women are probably less free (economically) to leave relationships, and that’s where I think it becomes poignant. It’s similar to spousal abuse in that case.

  33. If you are seriously using CDC as a valid source of insightful data, consider this – 76% of female rapes go unreported. The CDC does not tend to include data pertaining to reported rapes of women where rape kits were not processed, the backlog of rape kits unprocessed in many municipalites go back THREE years. Rape kits are rarely if ever collected on men, most rape reports reported by men are not required to be upheld to the same standards of rape reports in women, its laregely heresay. CDC underreports rapes of women whereby no rape kit had been processed. If you are seriously going to attempt to justify an article on systemic social subjugation of women in any context, get your facts straight and use valid sources of data.

    The entire tone of this article was patently biased, and demonstrated with an unusual level of clarity the extremism patriarchy goes to defend itself. The tone was highly judgemental, the language filled with examples of invalidation, evaluation, judgement, coercion, and manipulation, as were the continued defensive commentary.

    The CDC’s rape statistics are renowned for being skewed and inherently useless for any serious researcher. They rarely include women as victims of coerced oral sex (underreported due to inadequate education and training – most women don’t know they can report coerced oral sex as rape, and most police officers are not trained to handle such a report), sexual enslavement (rarely reported by victim for fear of prosecution for prostitution as well as fear of retribution), enforced impregnation (underreported for fear of retribution), or forced marriages – all highly women-centric issues, and all underreported by victims.

    Gaslighting is merely the introduction to socially accepted coercion tactics forcing many women into unwanted relations daily. The more recent statistics say three in four women endure some form of unwanted, forced physical, often sexually explicit contact from a man.

    WHO and IWE would be only incrementally more reiable data collectors on rape statistics. I do not dispute that rape and emotional victimization occurs among men, but I will continue to emphasize that it is well known by investigators and therapists alike that rape or other forms of abuse are systemically underreported in female victims.

    systemic sexual oppression should be likened to racial prejudice. Women continue to be objectified in nearly every country. Social systemic oppression of women has programmed the reactivity Inherent throughout this poorly researched article, as well as the feedback throughout.

    I am here to tell you these practices are alive and well, as a survivor of such brutality. The goal of any society should be to make slavery, objectification, rape, emotional abuse and physical abuse as distasteful and shocking to its people as cannibalism.

    I can tell you sir, given your language throughout this article it is unlikely you have experienced isolation, oppression, gaslighting, rape, or coercion in your relationship, to the extent the average female has, as your tangled logic and your manner of communication clearly demonstrates you are the manipulator and the power holder in your personal relationship. To the editors of this blog and the author of this article,I would endeavor to suggest a course on NVC prior to subjugating your readers to any further biased, ill-informed, inflammatory articles.

    • Isis, do WHO and IWE do any data collection on men forced to penetrate? I collect links to studies to try get an understanding of how much abuse goes on by type, gender, age, etc. CDC’s NISVS 2010 is the only one I’ve seen so far address males forced to penetrate.

    • Isis,
      Yes, many instances in which women are raped go unreported. I agree 100%. But your comments say nothing to suggest that the rape of men also goes underreported. It is a startling omission. Men do not report violent abuse by their partners nor do they report being victims of rape for a myriad of reasons. Not the least of which is being laughed at by the men and women police officers who are to investigate such claims. If you are demanding that others rely on unbiased assumptions then please do so yourself. Otherwise, you’re not in dialogue, you’re just shouting other voices down.

    • Mark Neil says:

      “If you are seriously using CDC as a valid source of insightful data, consider this – 76% of female rapes go unreported.”

      There is so much wrong with that one sentence, it’s mind boggling. For starters, how can you get such an accurate account of how many rapes go unreported if they are UNREPORTED? Next, what percentage of male rape goes unreported? Are you honestly going to suggest that men are more likely to report being raped than women? How can you pretend this claim says anything about the validity of the CDC’s statistics when what you say here doesn’t disprove the CDC, and furthermore, your figures ignore men’s rape, and so you can’t speak one way or the other regarding it? So attempting to deflect the findings of the CDC with regard to male victims by giving statistics that 1: couldn’t possibly be factual (can’t report on the unreported), and 2: utterly ignores men as victims, is actually quite offensive.

      It should also be noted the author wasn’t restricting his discussion to only rape. In fact, he cited the 1in3 and 1in4 numbers as rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, yet that CDC study actually excludes men from being raped by definition. So that 1in3 includes rape, but the 1in4 does not. So yes, the CDC figures are skewed, but they are skewed in favour of women. But this is rreevant, because the point wasn’t who has it worst, it was “men are abused too”, and that seems to be a problem for you… why?

      “Rape kits are rarely if ever collected on men, most rape reports reported by men are not required to be upheld to the same standards of rape reports in women, its laregely heresay”

      Care to back that up with some evidence? Furthermore, care to demonstrate that it isn’t also the case for women? Rape kits help synch a case, but there have been many men convicted on false accusations, meaning no rape kit, only heresay.

      “The CDC’s rape statistics are renowned for being skewed and inherently useless for any serious researcher.”

      Care to back that claim up as well? Who DO you see as a reliable source? RAINN?

      I find your dismissal, your attempt to marginalize, even hide male victims, and attempt at oneupsmanship to be very offensive. Why does it irk you so to acknowledge male victims exist, at least in greater numbers than the nonexistent you would have people believe? What do you have against men?

    • @isis

      “Rape kits are rarely if ever collected on men, most rape reports reported by men are not required to be upheld to the same standards of rape reports in women, its laregely heresay.”

      Are you accusing the male rape survivors of lying?

  34. chrisfs says:

    Mark, For the first 3/4s of your article, your criticisms of the original article come across to me as simply more elaborate versions of the same objections that seem to be made almost whenever some discussion of feminism is made. The last 1/4 is not enough to convince me otherwise. If you want to make a positive contribution, you really need to re-examine your views and/or recraft what you are saying.

    1) “Men are gaslighted too”. So what? Is your point that if men are treated badly too, we are at some equality of being treated badly and so nothing is wrong and no one should be pointing it out? I don’t understand the point of this reason if not to simply shut down the conversation. I can not think of a reasonable person who would, after reading Ali’s article, think “oh but it’s ok to gaslight men, because the article doesn’t mention that.” It’s wrong to gaslight anyone man or women. There’s no other conclusion to reach from that article. Stating men are gaslighted too is not a good criticism.

    2)”Women are potrayed as powerless victims” To me, this argument boils down to “well if you didn’t act like a victim, no one would pick on you…”. Responsibility for their role? In the example of a boss calling an employee “stupid” once a day, and when the employee protests, says ‘you’re over reacting” what is the responsibility of that employee? Are they supposed to console themselves saying ‘ the boss didn’t mean it’, that’s a decent short term thing, but it doesn’t excuse the behavior. Are they supposed to have some supernatural power over the boss’s actions ? Are they simply supposed to not be stupid? I’m sure the employee is not doing that intentionally, and the proper response on the part of the boss is to either correct them or fire them.
    You say ” In order for gaslighting to work, you have to allow it continue.” That’s called ‘blaming the victim’. If only the person being gaslighted had behaved differently, the boss wouldn’t have been compelled to gaslight them. That’s not true, In this specific example, the employee can quit, but in real life, the need for and rent sometimes prevent that (this can apply to relationships as well), and even if they did quit, it would not make gaslighting any more ok.

    3) ‘Ali blames and pathologizes’. The point of Ali’s article was to point out responses and comments that hurt and were manipulative by denying that hurt. In a situation where someone is being manipulative, there is going to be blame and a pathological situation. If someone says ‘you’re hurting me’, the immediate response can not be ‘well let’s be careful because that takes us ” down a path defined by pathological and abuse markers”. If someone is doing something blameworthy, it’s best to assign blame. With regards to the suggestion that 3 months of therapy might be helpful, I think you are trying to shift the context of the situation. You can’t bring your boss into three months of couple’s therapy. You can’t bring the multitude of anonymous internet commenters into 3 months of therapy. And for partners that you could possiibly do so, the worse offenders would simply repeat that therapy isn’t needed because the person was simply being overly sensitive or dramatic

    4) ” encourages his readers to employ simplistic binary assumptions”.
    No, I don’t think he does. I think you are overgeneralizing and misinterpeting what he means.
    ” Ali writes: “A remark intended to shut you down like, “Calm down, you’re overreacting,” after you just addressed someone else’s bad behavior, is emotional manipulation—pure and simple.” … Is it his intention that we should believe the recipient of this statement NEVER overreacts?”
    The answer to your question is No, Ali is assuming his readers are intelligent adults and discern the difference between different situations and understand nuance without him having to cover every possible exception to the detriment of the article. He presents a rather specific scenario. He presents a rather specific scenario. If you are addressing someone’s bad behavior and that same person tells you to ‘Calm down’, that is manipulative. That’s different from say a 3rd person makes that statement. One can’t come up every exception and expect to have a readable article of decent length.
    The advice ‘when someone comes at you with a knife, run away’ does not cover the knife salesman sells you one or your aunt bring you the carving knife at Thanksgiving. It’s still good advice. The person is supposed to recognize that. Ali isn’t encouraging binary assumptions, he’s expecting his audience to be able to see the distinction.
    I am glad you have the relationship you do with your partner, but unless your over-reaction is when you call out your partner’s bad behavior, then I think it’s not an applicable example. A boss patronizing you, a stranger catcalling and then saying “Calm down”, is not an unclear situation. Stating that doesn’t state that there are no gray situations.

    5) ” misidentify strengths as weaknesses”. Again context matters in this situation and stating exceptions doesn’t invalidate a general statement. You ask ” How is it that expressing an issue or concern should not be done in a gentle way?” When the gentle way is not done out of a friendly concern, but out of a fear of being told that you’re too sensitive or too dramatic. That’s when. That sense of being told you’re too sensitive by someone when you point something out about their behavior towards you is the main point of the article and statements within it should be viewed in terms of that and not as a general commentary on behavior, which is what you are seeming to do.

    6) ” encourages counterproductive binary arguments”. There’s not much here except that statement, so I can’t say much more than no it doesn’t. If you read into the examples that all men are awful and constantly gaslighting women, then I think you’re the one that is encouraging conterrpoductive arguments.

    The Ending
    “Thank you, Yashar. I know your heart is in the right place” after having read 6 criticisms written over 2 pages, this phrase “Thank you, Yashar. I know your heart is in the right place” comes with an implied “but you are over reacting” attached to it. You spend the rest of the article saying how men are just as vunerable as women, but as I said at the start, that’s simply a non argument.. Proposing the need for appreciative inquiry seems to either undermine or at least miss the point. There are plenty of situations where it’s clear that when you point out someone’s bad behavior and they respond by telling you that you are too sensitive, that it was not coming out of a desire for appreciative inquiry.
    I hope you do mean for people to get into a better place and respect each other and communicate better. However if you do, I think you need to recraft that message. A response of
    but
    but
    but
    doesn’t convey that to me.

    • Mark Neil says:

      1) If both sexes are being treated equally bad, then there is a level of equality there. That doesn’t mean the issues don’t need to be fixed (although, it also doesn’t mean there is an issue that needs fixing ether), but it DOES mean the blame and the solutions can’t be one sided. The fact Ali’s article DID present the issues as one sided does demonstrate a view that it’s only a problem when it happens to women. The outcome of 40 years of one-sided domestic abuse awareness demonstrates that quite well. If you believe it affects both men and women, and is as equally bad when done to both, why do you support an article, written on a mens site, that completely ignores the effect on men, and seems to entirely lay the blame at men’s feet? Is your ideal of equality to reverse to oppression roles you believe exist? When a gender neutral problem is presented in a one-sided, gendered way, it needs to be called out. See how the predominantly male wartime death rate gets glossed over in a gender neutral brush for an example of the same thing in reverse.

      2) Ironically, you further perpetuate the idea of “treating women as victims”. At no point do you demonstrate he’s wrong. You call an expectation that women should be willing to stand up for themselves “blaming the victim (there’s that victim portrayal again)”, as if one has a right to be treated nicely and respected, without ever needing to earn it. In you hypothetical, a simple, “Hey, you’re out of line calling me stupid. Stop it” Is not to much to ask. If the boss continues, report them. Both actions are “the victim” taking responsibility FOR THEIR OWN FEELINGS. Both actions should be expected of anyone who feels they are being treated unfairly. Whinging about gaslighting is just coddling people, treating them like children who can’t manage to speak up for themselves. How weak, pathetic and meek do you think women are? It’s not “blaming the victim”, it’s expecting women to act like an adult, and tend to their own feelings instead of expecting the world to shift to make her happy.

      3) The point of Ali’s article was the same as most, to portray women as victims of the big bad man, in order to socially engineer (through guilt and shame, as has always been the case) male behavior into something more to women’s liking. You say “If someone is doing something blameworthy, it’s best to assign blame.”, and that blame is clearly being assigned to men (despite your admitting it isn’t a gendered issue in point one)… but what if the blame IS only the person being accused of overreacting? Are you familiar with the recent donglegate fiasco? The woman there overheard a dongle joke (AKA a dick joke) and took great offense, and instead of asking the guys to stop (you know, that reasonable expectation that you call blaming the victim), or discreetly informing a staff member of the conference, she blew it up by posting her complaint to her 13,000 twitter subscribers and demanding the pycon management do something, via twitter. That exposure cost a man his job, because she can’t handle a simple dick joke told in her general vicinity… Is it unreasonable to call that an overreaction, overly sensitive or dramatic? Is it victim blaming to suggest, maybe, instead of whinging about it to the world, she could have simply confronted the guys and asked them to stop? Ali (and yourself) seem to presenting any accusation of a woman acting overly sensitive or dramatic as being completely unfounded, as if women (or men) CAN’T act irrational, or overreact.

      4) “No, I don’t think he does.” But he does. You can not accuse someone of being irrational or suggest they deal with their own feelings without being accused of gaslighting or victim blaming. You guys have left no way in which to criticize people, at least women, without meeting YOUR standards of what’s reasonable. But I don’t know you from Adam. If you want to argue common sense, then I need to point out, if common sense was a factor, people wouldn’t be losing their jobs over a dongle joke, and the tech and feminist media wouldn’t be in an uproar over it, now would they? Common sense isn’t very common these days, and where that line stands is different for different people and different agenda’s… So common sense is not a sufficient answer for where to draw the line, because it is entirely subjective.

      5) “When the gentle way is not done out of a friendly concern, but out of a fear of being told that you’re too sensitive or too dramatic.” It could be argued that if you’re coming to the realization, on your own, that you may be deemed “too sensitive or too dramatic”, you may actually be doing so. Remember your claims in number 4, about nuance or grey situations? It could also be argued that doing so undermines your efforts to be taken seriously, and will, in turn receive a likewise non-serious response.

      ” That sense of being told you’re too sensitive by someone when you point something out about their behavior towards you is the main point of the article and statements within it should be viewed in terms of that and not as a general commentary on behavior, which is what you are seeming to do.”

      And again, we return to having no way to tell someone who IS being unreasonable they are being so. And I’m not exactly sure where someone feels they have the right to judge and criticize others behavior without having their own behavior judged and criticized in return?

      6)”There’s not much here except that statement, so I can’t say much more than no it doesn’t.”

      He says as he enacts a counterproductive binary argument.

      ” I know your heart is in the right place” comes with an implied “but you are over reacting” attached to it. ”

      The attachment couldn’t possibly be “but you’re doing more harm than good”, or far more likely, given the articles content “but your views are incomplete, and sexist against men”… I also find your own arguments, such as ” I think you are overgeneralizing and misinterpreting what he means.” that likewise can be said to have the implied “you’re over-reacting” attachments to them, to be amusingly ironic.

      “You spend the rest of the article saying how men are just as vulnerable as women, but as I said at the start, that’s simply a non argument..”

      Then why is it so hard to get acknowledgement… ON A MENS SITE? Why does the original article have to be gendered? What benefit comes from gendering it, when the issue applies to both, except to include that oh so common implication that it is only women who are affected by it, and only men who need to modify their behavior? You’ll need to explain this, above all else, to even have a chance at justifying it as anything but encouraging counterproductive binary arguments, like the one you are engaged in right here.

      “Proposing the need for appreciative inquiry seems to either undermine or at least miss the point.”

      AKA you’re overreacting, Mark. And how is it undermining the discussion to point out it’s not a gendered issue, when it has become so very common to only discuss one side of non-gendered issues, and in turn, see only one-sided responses, such as in Domestic Violence (if I have to explain this, well, the term ideological blinders come to mind, and explains why the “but but but” doesn’t work on you), education (Title IX implementation, or 60% female attendance rate and politicians concern is getting more women in STEM fields to widen the gap further) , family courts (reasons for no-fault, or how alimony is now a problem because women don’t like it when they have to pay), etc.

      • One small note on “women should stick up for themselves and act as adults more” – I don’t know if you read the nytimes article on women being heard in the workplace – but allow me to suggest that women are commonly seen as bitchy when we do this, and it doesn’t help us.

        I think one major issue with the “women are crazy” trope is that yes, many people are crazy. But society and culture throws that at women. Men can and often are gaslighted as well – which you mention in your article – but we haven’t conditioned men into thinking they are crazy. Instead we’ll call them a “pussy” and suggest that their emotional response is feminine and therefore less valid in some way. You are right that it hurts both men and women – but it hurts women by insulting women and it hurts men by comparing them to women and suggesting that it’s insulting. So it is most definitely a gendered response.

        One of the main tenets of feminism is that its beneficial to both men and woman. This is an example of that. But it doesn’t help us when you try to ignore or dismiss the inherent gender roles/bias that it comes from.

    • Love this. You nailed it.
      I found this article very condescending and convoluted.

      Someone is addressing an issue in a very straightforward way, and someone else needs to fill in the gaps with academic prowess. I’ve experienced this backlash when I published an article discussing ‘enlightened’ men and their methods of pursuing women. Not discounting queers and the plights of men, not claiming to be a feminist – just a direct commentary on an issue I had personal experience with and had witnessed happening to the women in my life. Needless to say there was considerable ostentatious jargon flaring up in defense from leftrightandcenter.

      At least we can extract that if an article is triggering elaborate mental responses, it is touching on something worth considering; defensive, critical dialogue is a step up from complete ignorance.

  35. This whole article is gaslighting.

    • Whole article is Gaslighting? Yes I got that feeling too. Oh wait I’m a woman, I must be over reacting and unwilling to admit it. :-0 Thanks to the author for helping me to understand that when my feelings are dismissed, minimized or ignored, that I should be a “good girl” and admit I am over react. Heaven forbid we consider that women expressing opinion, being in leadership positions etc. might ever get an UNneccesary negative reaction.
      I found myself reminded of a conference when a female speaker was attempting to get the attention of the audience. Apparently she wasn’t ladylike enough about it and her fellw speaker said.loudly to her “If you are going to talk like that, you should be wearing a black leather mini skirt and holding a whip” I “over reacted”on her behalf by saying to the male speaker “I wonder how you’d look in that outfit”. Funny thing was he didn’t seemed to think it was so funny when it was said to him (though he thougt it was appropriate to say to her.

      • Big problem is a lot of women DO over-react but do so in a manner that isn’t good. Being abusive, yelling, screaming, hitting, slapping are all times when it’s warranted to say someone is over-reacting (unless they’re defending themselves). Some will use it to shut women up but others will use it regardless of gender. I’ve told women AND men before when they’ve over-reacted because having your ear screamed off isn’t good. There are ways to express anger without having to be so aggressive, and yes I’ve been told I’ve overreacted too before and they were right.

        It’s not women that are crazy though, it’s individuals that act abusive, selfish, arrogant, etc whom appear “crazy”.

        • Yes both men and women can over react. I’m not arguing that.

          But what I do notice is that the label of being overly emotional, over reacting etc. is applied more to women. And it is sometimes done in a way that is meant to minimize or dismiss their opinion and sometimes their right to have an opinion..

      • Hi Kathy,
        I want to suggest that you’re painting with a very broad brush here. Now, in that moment, am I gaslighting you? No. I’m responding to you as an equal in a conversation between equals. If you, by virtue of your gender can dismiss any dialogue between us as gaslighting, then I suppose you’ll have to determine what kind of conversations you’ll be having with any man you meet. Some men gaslight. Some women do too.
        And when I say your comments are too broad brush, I mean your comment about women in leadership positions. Why my article inspired you to discuss a blanket rejection of any opinions any woman might have, I do not know. But its a leap that is far too easy to make. It seeks to undermine my ideas by association.
        As for the asshole you describe in your story… He’s an idiot. But he’s not proof that all men behave this way. I can tell you a hundred stories of women I have worked under who have run roughshod over me in meeting after meeting. That is not a by product of their gender. I have worked under others who we’re terrific to work for.
        And for the record, run Michelle Obama for President and I’ll vote for her.

        • Mark, I will reply when I am at my computer again. My phone does not seem to be compatiblle with this site. Kathy

  36. mark kern says:

    Mark Green.
    Well done. I wrote my own response to the original article to someone on FB. You were more comprehensive than I.
    Again I say well done.
    I think that most of your critics are superimposing wrongs onto your contribution that were not there.
    I understand why one would do that who has found mostly arguments in this world that are hostile to women or to victims.
    Here is what I wrote.

    Not to refute anything said by the author of that article I would add the following;

    Gaslighting is a tactic of the one up person in an un-even power relationship trying to keep the un-even status quo.
    It happens among men and it happens among women.
    It happens when women are one-up to men in the work place or in relationships.
    It happens between races when one is dominant in the culture.
    It happens within races when one has power over the other such as Blacks who hold lighter skin as more worthy than darker skin.
    It happen among children when one is older and has more power than the other.
    It happens between parents and their children.

    It is a trait of the human ego.
    We are all guilty of it.
    When a victim comes to a one-up position of power they are just as likely to Gaslight the one-down person or group.
    While there is value in calling upon the compassion in the one (or the group) who is one-up to begin to become conscious of the negative value perpetrated upon the one-down person and indeed to the society and to that one-up individual/group as well, there is still greater value to addressing the human ego; to teach all how to begin to become the being whom we truly are vs the unconscious-robotic-ego-programming which often rules our lives if unchecked.
    It is the mission in life of each individual to begin to dissolve that negative ego stuff so that the human community has a little less of it swirling around.
    When we are successful at this, our beingness begins to contribute to a greater ease for all those who encounter us to become their own true being and to let go their own ego negativity.
    In fact once most or all ego is dissolved in one’s psyche, there is nothing overtly to do but to be who you are as you live your life and the natural fallout of this is the beginnings of release for others.

    Both the victim and the perp are participating in an egoic relationship which may be dissolved from either side or both (preferably both).

    Wanna change the world. Start right here, with self”.

  37. Your argument completely fell apart at #2, and never recovered. I am appalled that you would claim women have a responsibility to not let themselves be victims of ‘gaslighting’ when the whole point in the article you’re arguing against is that women are not being listened to when they do stand up for themselves. I think you should slow down and read the original article more carefully and with your defenses at ease before trying to refute the argument.

  38. You do realize that the article is a form of gaslighting?

  39. There are some valid points in this article, but from the first one I was questioning their relevance as a response to Ali’s article. This is because conditioning someone to only think and feel in certain ways is not at all the same as portraying someone as crazy for how they think and feel. It is true that men are brought up to only express a limited range of emotions. But so are women. The difference is that this “gaslighting” that Ali references occurs even when women express emotions that fall within the range that has been assigned to them. We are telling women how to feel, then labeling them as crazy when they do so. This may occur on a smaller scale for individual men, but it is not a widespread phenomenon as it is for women. Ali is referring to a phenomenon by which thoughts and feelings expressed by males are validated while thoughts and feelings expressed by females are invalidated. The limited range of thoughts and feelings each gender is encouraged to express is a separate conversation, so the points made here are not actually in contrast to the points Ali made.

    • Mark Neil says:

      “This may occur on a smaller scale for individual men, but it is not a widespread phenomenon as it is for women. ”

      Just because you aren’t willing to examine the issue outside of a woman focused lens, does not make what you believe true, or the problem not to be widespread. Men are most certainly told how to feel, and then when they do feel that way, are labeled, not as crazy, but as dangerous. Not only to themselves and strangers, but even to the people they love, even their own children. The domestic violence and sexual grievance industries are built on doing precisely that, so don’t go playing off the women have it worst angle by ignoring how men are affected. That’s one of the problems Mark Green is trying to point out, that you can’t get beyond your gender focused lens.

      ” Ali is referring to a phenomenon by which thoughts and feelings expressed by males are validated while thoughts and feelings expressed by females are invalidated. ”

      Actualy, Ali is talking about an issue that affects both women AND men and portraying it, through specific examples and the ignoring of related instances, as an issue that only affects women… And when Mark wrote an article pointing out the one sidedness of the original, people went and did that precise thing you are denying happens to men, to mark. Read through the comments and you will see him gaslighted throughout.

      “The limited range of thoughts and feelings each gender is encouraged to express is a separate conversation,”

      Why? Why does it have to be separate? So that you can ignore the impacts on men and focus slely on women, with a clean conscience? Well, the issues isn’t separate, it’s the same problem for both sexes. Hell, not only do you claim they are separate issues, you then marginalize men’s side of the issue by claiming men then don’t experience it nearly as much as women.

  40. brazil nut says:

    I wrote this on the Facebook post, but I see that most of the responses are directed through here.

    I sense a lot of tension in this article, and maybe a bit of resentment towards the feminist movement? I used to be very anti-feminism because I misunderstood the move behind it. The way I used to feel about it would have come out something very much like this article. Now, however, I am more informed. I can respect Mark’s desire to combat the original “Why Women Aren’t Crazy” article; however, I kindly disagree with most points made here.

    #1. I didn’t read in Yashar’s article that men cannot suffer from gaslighting. In fact, he says, “…ALL OF US, especially women, have dealt with it at one time or another”. The original article is not framing all men as big bad bullies and all women as soft docile victims. He is simply bringing to light that this behaviour towards women is common place, and that’s fact. Women being crazy is a view shared by all of society, both men and women alike, as he also pointed out. He has written right in the article that women are also perpetuating the problem. That is not to say, however, that the women who are the victims and the women who are the bullies or the instigators are always one and the same.

    #2. Where did you get your statistics from? “Some substantial percentage of women (say 50%) don’t have to sit and take the kind of silencing Ali describes”. This 50% based on what study exactly? Your perception? Your perception as a man, at that? It’s true – most women should not have to take this abuse, but the reality is that many of them don’t even know it is being done. It’s not always as obvious as statements like, ‘you are stupid’, and it’s certainly not as blatant as being hit. Gaslighting is not simply name-calling, as some seem to think it is. If you are unsure of what it is, or what it is like, I suggest you read more on this behaviour. In fact, read about brainwashing, which has a lot of similarities, albeit gaslighting is likely carried out with more charm and smaller, subtler attacks that build up over time.
    http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/brainwashing1.htm

    #3. I don’t think any harm is done by putting a name to the behaviour. Abuse is abuse by any other name, so let’s just call it as it is.

    #4. The difference between a situation in which someone says “you are overreacting” and when Mark’s wife suggests the “reason for feeling reactive may be fear-based or seated in some perceptions that I might want to reconsider” is that the latter is allowing/inviting the person to view the situation from another perspective. It is constructive and caring, and allowing the individual to think and feel for themselves. The former is a form of defining, which is a type of verbal abuse. “You are”, “you think”, “you feel” statements are all telling a person who they are and what their intentions are as if you are them – this is abuse. It is shutting the person down and telling them how they should or should not be acting.

    #6. The men in this article who are true gaslighters ARE two-dimensional beings! The type of people who carry out this type of abuse are often, if not always, classified as narcissists. *note, this is not to say all men are narcissists or all narcissists are men* Narcissistic behaviour is characterised, in part, by their sheer lack of empathy and compassion for others. “Narcissists do not consider the pain they inflict on others; nor do they give any credence to others’ perceptions,” Enough of You, Let’s Talk About Me, Dr. Les Carter

    Did you research the subject before writing this bit, or was this a quick reaction to what you saw as an attack on men? It reads as the latter.

    I can guarantee that you (Mark) have never experienced this type of gaslighting. It is referred to as “crazy-making behaviour”, and this is for good reason – it is literally crazy-making. It’s not as cut and dry as choosing to be a victim or not. I, for one, never saw it coming, and had no idea it was happening until someone else saw the behaviour and expressed concern. I suggest you do some more reading on this type of abuse before writing about it.

    • Dear Brazil Nut,
      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.
      I’m not going to respond to all you have said here, but I do need to say this.
      You’re comment: “I can guarantee that you (Mark) have never experienced this type of gaslighting.”

      You simply can not say that. You simply do not know for sure. And this is where gender really comes in in these dialogues. The assumption that ONLY women experience certain things is not supportable. Perhaps they experience it to a higher percentage, but as men become more progressive and gender neutral in their behavior, they too will fall prey to many of the challenges that women face. It’s not about body parts, its about power. And power is shifting in some places and in come cultures.

  41. You know, even though the original article calls out men for their behavior, I can’t help but feel that it serves less to do that and more to inform women about how it’s possible they are emotionally mute, when they (surprise) aren’t able to express that. I sent this article to a few women friends and we discussed it. For some of us, myself included, it was a tuning fork going off, illuminating before unnamed or unrecognized issues in relationships, some dating back to childhood. Others couldn’t relate. I think the women who aren’t susceptible to this particular type of emotional blackmail know who they are instantly. They are not going to relate to what was written. It is not their experience with the world or in relationships.

    I think the women who have been or are, I guess we’re not supposed to use the word “victims” of gaslighting because that’s somehow weak and we shouldn’t want to self-identify with a word the rest of the world sees as weak and helpless, so let’s say women who have been subjected (does that ease anyone’s conscience at all?) are going to read the original article and take something away far greater than getting to claim victim status or assign blame. They’ll become more aware. And awareness helps you tell the difference between someone trying to hit a mute button because they don’t like dealing with your uncomfortable reaction and someone legitimately beseeching you to settle down for your own good.

    Arguing whether the original article was right or wrong and whether or not this rebuttal is valid or invalid is stupid. The original article speaks a truth that will resonate with some people and won’t resonate with others because it’s not a behavior they recognize. And that’s why it’s been circulated so widely. We don’t want a “get out of jail free” card to act out, but it’s nice to validate that there are patterns that lead to losing your voice and diminishing your natural emotional responses. There’s no need for anyone to be right or wrong here.

      • The most eloquent comment so far. I know you don’t need my validation but I’m giving it anyway. Well said.
    • I think I know you ; ) and I think you are brilliant!

    • Well said, Andee! Both articles struck a cord for me for different reasons and gave me a lot to think about. That’s uncommon for internet topics, so I appreciate the insightful and well-thought approach from both authors.

    • Some of us women gaslighting started in childhood, my dad is a sociopath. Gaslighting is a learned behavior and is not acceptable. Mental illness is 5 percent genetics and 95 percent behavior issues. Behavior modification is the best thing a person can do for themselves. Best way to deal with bad behavior is to call it for it is and not accept any excuses.

    • that was exactly how i felt! not a victim, but acknowledgement from outside of my little inside world, that what i’m feeling is right and i should keep saying it, and stop suppressing.

    • Before reading the original article, I would often think something was wrong with me. But now I can see that I have been “gaslighted”, and it has happened often. The article created an awareness in me, and now, whether the person is doing it consciously or not (and he was very clear in the article that it is not always intentional), I am able to own my feelings without thinking it means I am crazy. I feel that your article gives permission for anyone guilty of gaslighting, to disregard the original article and continue to either do it intentionally, or remain in the dark about what they are doing. As far as your argument that men and women are both guilty of gaslighting, and that the article should have addressed that, I say get over it. It is impossible for every article to cover every aspect of a subject, and this article was written from a specific perspective. Sure, there are women who do it too. I have been gaslighted by women. But this article was about men gaslighting women, and the fact that it doesn’t doesn’t cover the other side doesn’t make it any less effective or true.

    • What I was going to post has already been said better than I would have by Andee, Jessica, and a couple of others. I find it interesting that so many humans seem to confuse “incomplete” with “incorrect”, and then so often take it upon themselves to “prove” why another person’s ideas and observations are “incorrect”. Where does this extremely common habit of confusion originate, and why is it so common, I wonder? Maybe I’ll do a survey… :) (What does that smiley face mean? I can tell you, but you’d have to actually ask me; I’ll give you a hint though, Yashar is closer to the mark)

    • Andee – I just found this article and my reply would have been very similar to yours. I get comments, on occasion, from others just as co-workers, family or friends that I am over-reacting, etc, I think nothing of it and I probably am over reacting. However, when my ex-husband made those comments he had an agenda. And that was to make me feel weak and powerless. I was emotionally manipulated by him.

      Context and the person delivery the comments make a world of difference on how they can make you feel and react. The article that was the subject of this rebuttal really hit home for me because I finally had a name for the crazy-making that was occurring in my life and to realize i really wasn’t crazy! Where – what a relief!!!!

  42. Well said!

  43. While I appreciated reading your thoughtful response, I’d question your use of CDC statistics. You include the percentage of male and female victims of intimate partner violence as evidence that women can be just as abusive as men. The statistic doesn’t speak to that at all. It states that men can be nearly as often the victim. The perpetrators sex is unlisted. I’d argue a good number of abused men are abused within the confines of same-sex relationships.

    • Mr Supertypo says:

      so in other words Kathryn, just to clarify you are suggesting that women dont abuse men?

      • Women certainly do abuse men. Emotional abuse is all too common. Men are “gaslighted” too. “I can’t believe you lost your job AGAIN”, “You’re acting just like your father!”, “You need to control your temper”, “You’ve gained a lot of weight”, “Why are you so lazy?” and the list goes on.

        I somehow doubt that women rape men as often as men rape women. Not because women are the kinder sex, but because it’s rather difficult to rape an unwilling male unless you are also male and equipped to “force” yourself on him. I believe Kathryn was just pointing out that these stats are overly broad and do not paint a complete picture of THIS situation because the stats don’t exclude unrelated data.

        • Mr Supertypo says:

          there are several way how a woman may abuse sexually a man. Way more efficent than hiding in a bush or a street corner. Allow me a memory, when I was living in Italy, my gf uncle and his wife were always fighting. They really hated each other. Although no psisical abuse were involved you could really feel the bad vibes coming from the two of them. My gf told me that what happen was her aunt, while having sex with him, at the right moment she forced her upon him, so he will come inside her impregnating her, forcing him to marry her (they are from a much older generation). This is a example of female on male rape. But the abuse can take lots of different shapes, all depends from the context. But traditionally, female on male abuse is almost invisible, and usually cover up by the victims/abuser/family and friends. So in theory the abuse can also be violent not only subtle.

          • I realize this is a very old comment thread, but I think Kathryn was saying it is not *only* women who can abuse men. Women certainly can, and certainly do – abuse men, but they can and do also abuse each other, and men can and do abuse other men, in every form that abuse can take.
            90% of the gaslighting and silencing I grew up with came from my mother. Most of the bullying and gaslighting my brother received came from his (mostly male) classmates. Since then, I’ve been to therapy. My brother has not, so now I get gaslighted (gaslit?) by him *and* my mother. Yaaaaaay. :i

    • Gender for rapists were listed. And it goes to show that it’s pretty safe to assume a large portion of the victims of each were abused by the other gender for physical violence too since the majority of people are straight.

      Lifetime around 16% of rapists were female, last 12 months it’s 40%

  44. This article presents faulty logic. Yes, men can be victims too. Absolutely. But, most violence in our culture statistically, against men and women, is perpetuated by men. The author makes this point: ” But it is crucial to our ongoing dialogues to understand that the victims of abuse are men and women alike. It’s a fact that women have the potential to be just as emotionally and physically abusive as men. For some insight, look at the CDC’s statistics on physical abuse in relationships by gender. The report states: “More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.”(1)” The way the author is presenting this information is misleading. The author equates the fact that men can also be victims, with women “women have the potential to be just as emotionally and physically abusive as men”….the author is interpreting the statistics about violence against men in a way as if this violence is mainly perpetuated by women. This is statistically incorrect. It would be nice if the author had done his homework before writing an article on such an important subject.

    • How is my use of this fairly straightforward data misleading? The CDC statistics state that one in four men have been victims of “rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.”
      You say, “the author is interpreting the statistics about violence against men in a way as if this violence is mainly perpetuated by women.”
      The fact is, the majority of the intimate relationships noted in these statistics are between men and women. It is perfectly reasonable to assert that women tend to be physically abusive towards men they know while men are abusive to people they know and to strangers alike. This is less about doing homework and more about interpreting some fairly simple clear data.
      Women are clearly the victims of a wide range of abuse at the hands of men. But you do a disservice to the greater community by denying the suffering a male victims of female physical abuse. I don’t know if your motive is blindly partisan or willfully ignorant, but all the members of our communities need protection, care, and healing, regardless of their gender.

  45. I disagree about the powerless victims. I grew up with a Father who told me “no one would ever want me”, those were his exact words. Sometimes followed with details. Even at the age I am now, I still don’t see how a child could do anything to change that situation. A child is a powerless victim. Not only do you need your parents but you can’t fight them, take power from them and any time I did try to speak up for myself I was quickly shot down.

    I do agree that men can be in the same situation. However, it does seem that women are the targets far more often.

  46. Mountains says:

    #1
    Not all men.

  47. Heather says:

    I’d like to read an article about ways to handle gaslighting from the victim’s standpoint that include thoughtful self examination and conflict resolution. Are there recommended methods of dealing with this problem, beyond recognizing when it is happening to you? I’d like to read of accounts in which people have turned the tables in a way that improved the relationship and helped everyone grow and heal. I’d like to read examples of all different varieties with varying degrees of success and failure.

  48. You present the reasons as arguments but they do not disprove anything other than the fact that you didn’t understand the original piece. Judging by the title and the line “…compelling but ultimately incomplete narrative” I believe your intention was only to expand on the issue. The feedback would have been better if you wrote the rest of this piece as an addition to Ali’s article (which, again, I believe was your intention) instead of an argument against it. As an addition, it is good (aside from the disgusting victim blaming).

    Ali’s piece is still very relevant since the act of making someone feel like they are crazy/overreacting/too emotional is a very gendered issue. I don’t think you would deny that (“I want to say clearly that yes, there are far too many female victims of silencing and abuse in the world”). Of course men are gaslighted too, but the topic was about a specific type of gaslighting that women often face. I didn’t appreciate the way you seemed to downplay it; we don’t need to hurt one cause to bring awareness to another.

    On the victim blaming: I really wish you would revise or omit that part. Most victims of mental abuse don’t know they are being abused. If you hear something enough, you will begin to believe/internalize it. In reason #1, you seem to understand social constructs that inhibit us and then in #2 you blame women for buying into them. Also, being told you are crazy/overreacting/can’t take a joke is not a situation we put ourselves in. It is merely something someone will say to discredit your feelings and Ali’s article was bringing awareness to it so more women wouldn’t buy into that kind of abuse.

    Kudos on the last bit. I feel like that immediate reaction is the reason women think men don’t listen.

  49. Sandi Brockway says:

    There is too much victim blaming in this article. There is too much of an assumption that women should have ESP. Narcissistic abuse is real, and the narcissist is very very savvy and experienced sometimes, even fooling some of the most seasoned veterans. I recently got HAD big time by a very sharp young man who was mentoring and rooming in my home. Now I am in PTSD state realizing I had a sociopath in my house.

  50. Your article brings up some good counterpoints, I appreciate that. Yashar’s article is intended to bring awareness to the issue of grooming for abuse. Women are often the victims of being told (under the umbrella of “crazy”) what they want, feel, are doing etc. and met with this dismissive attitude when pointing out undesirable behavior or exerting a boundary. They are told to lighen up, or grow a thicker skin in response to being disrespected and standing up for themselves. No, they are not all victims, but this abuse is covert and can cause cognitive dissonance and Yashar does a good job putting it into simple terms so that the majority of the population of women who do need help can access and start to understand what is happening to them.

    Your statistics on abuse of men and women don’t specify the sex of the abuser. It looks like a smoke screen to drive your point home that men are abused too. You would have more credibility if you provided the percentage of female perpetrators of rape you cited for both female and male victims.

  51. Frances says:

    The writer of this article is obviously blissfully ignorant about what Gaslighting really is. That he would suggest a bit of appreciative enquiry and some basic active listening etc is similar to saying, why don’t you use your negotiation skills next time someone wants to rape you. He doesn’t seem to understand just how unbelievably mind-fucking, crazy-making and abusive Gaslighting is. It takes a rare and skilled and experienced person to stand up to a Gaslighter. Most people are just innocent putty… totally unable to withstand the masterful onslaught of emotional abuse and manipulation. Please Mark, don’t write about things you have obviously never experienced.

Trackbacks

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  3. […] (typeof(addthis_share) == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}My new article which serves as a gender neutral critique of Yashar Ali’s wildly popular article titled, […]

  4. […] This is a comment by Quadruple A on the post “6 Reasons ‘Why Women Aren’t Crazy’ is Only One Side of the Story“. […]

  5. […] What can be immensely helpful instead, is to view these issues through the lens of what is called Appreciative Inquiry. Simply stated, we look for what is working and grow that, versus only pointing out the negative and attempting to eliminate it. Real progress has been made in terms of how men and women address emotions in their relationships. If we fail to acknowledge that, our actions do little to engage and grow successful trending change. Furthermore, appreciative inquiry teaches us to look for common ground and to be curious about ways we can support each other as we go forward in conversations like this one. de aici […]

  6. […] new article which serves as a gender neutral critique of Yashar Ali’s wildly popular article titled, […]

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