Another fantastic post from Nora Samaran, On Gaslighting
When I know inside myself that my perceptions are really fucking accurate, contrary to a lifetime of having them undermined, I feel less like I’m trying to hold on to reality through slipping sand. When I feel less like I’m hanging on to my sanity by a thread, I can approach these situations with more ease, solidity, empathy and understanding.
I waded into the comments over there, and I've been restraining myself from commenting further. So Many Opinions!!
I think they're looking for something analogous to "implicit bias," which lets people admit maybe their behavior is a little bit racist but it's absolutely not their fault. That's great, and it does give some people an entry point into realizing that not everything is fair and they didn't get to where they are purely by the sweat on their brow.
BUT. If we're not willing to admit our behavior is racist, we are still prioritizing our own comfort over the harm we're doing with our behavior.
With gaslighting, where the whole point is unwillingness to name reality, I think sugar-coating it is even less useful. More accurately, my gut screams that it's less useful, that it's capitulation.
We can describe behavior. "You're implying that I'm lying or crazy [about your policy changing]." We can talk about defensiveness, emotional labor, listening skills, caring. In the end, it's gaslighting. It needs to be named as gaslighting, not be wrapped in cotton-wool batting to protect the person causing harm.
I can see where people might be less willing to listen because admitting to gaslighting is painful. But not being willing to admit things because they might be painful is the whole problem in the first place.
Yes, I have a strong reaction to gaslighting. I've had the godawful 100% intentional very very skilled kind, and I've had the everyday yeah we changed our policy but no we don't want to admit it kind. People seem to take slippery reality for granted these days. I want solid ground under my feet.