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If you witnessed it, like many others, you were surprised. You may have even laughed, but the truth is, it was horrible, tasteless and a perfect example of Gaslighting. I’m of course referring to host Seth MacFarlane’s inappropriate Oscar stint, “We saw your boobs”.
What many don’t realize is that anyone that did laugh did so uncomfortably; especially if they were a woman and even more so if they were any of the women mentioned.
Gaslighting is the practice of systematically convincing an individual that their understanding of reality is mistaken or false.
So when a few women stood up and started shouting that what Seth MacFarlane did at the Oscars was wrong, they were thrown back with the classic Gaslighting manipulation: “You’re overreacting, relax, don’t you have a sense of humor?”
When someone says these things to you, it’s intended to shut you down from addressing their bad behavior which is emotional manipulation, pure and simple.
This is exactly what happens in our country to women everyday in the workplace, in the home and even in the limelight. This emotional manipulation feeds an epidemic in our country, one that defines women as irrational or overly sensitive.
Those who engage in Gaslighting create a reaction — whether it’s anger, frustration, sadness — in the person they are dealing with. Then, when that person reacts, the Gaslighter makes them feel uncomfortable and insecure by behaving as if their feelings aren’t rational or normal.
Even powerful women in Hollywood, ones that bear the brunt of this type of manipulation remain silent. Why?
photo by Chris Pizzuti (AP)
One well known actress did not take it lightly. I applaud Jamie Lee Curtis’s recent slam of Seth MacFarlane and his misogynistic approach. But why haven’t more women spoken up about it?
Because we are conditioned not too. Sadly, it’s easier to emotionally manipulate women because people have been conditioned by our society to accept it. Men continue to burden women whether the Gaslighting is conscious or not, to produce the same result; to keep us silent.
Gas lighting is a game. One you might not see coming if you don’t know what to look for. If you already have self-esteem issues, it is easier for someone to gaslight you. The best thing to do is keep your self-esteem high and be more vocal when you feel like someone is trying to take away your power through verbal manipulation.
Gloria Steinem quotes, “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.”
Seth MacFarlane needs to unlearn his behavior towards women. Moreover, he needs to apologize. Really apologize, not just to the women he Gaslighted at the Oscars; but to women everywhere. I’ll be waiting for mine, Seth.
The term Gasslight comes from the 1940’s suspense thriller set in nineteenth-century London. In the movie, Paula (Ingrid Bergman) marries the villainous Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer), not realizing that he is the one who murdered her aunt and is now searching for her missing jewels.
To cover up his treachery, he tries to persuade Paula that she is going mad, so he can search the attic for the jewels without her interference. He plants missing objects on her person in order to make her believe that she has no recollection of reality. He tries to isolate her, not allowing her to have visitors or to leave the house. However, she uncovers the truth when she notices the dimming of the gaslight.
Links to other articles on Gaslighting that I used as a reference for this blog: