After a weekend taking to the streets with so many incredible sister warriors who refuse to any longer tolerate a culture that asks us to sit down and be quiet, that tells us we have to endure disrespect of our bodies, that says we should be grateful for the strides women have made even if we're still not making the same money as a man for the same job (women of colour have an even larger wage gap), I'm more ready than ever to push back.
Let's start, shall we, with this notion of "alternative facts".
How many of us were treated to "alternative facts" in our marriage? Such as, "you're being ridiculous. We're just friends." Or "I was at the office. I can't believe you're giving me a hard time for putting a roof over our heads." Or "you're acting crazy. There's nothing going on." Check out our Stupid Shit Cheaters Say thread for plenty of "alternative facts".
But though we can sometimes laugh, let's not overlook how dangerous and destabilizing this behaviour this. Gaslighting is emotional abuse.
It creates an alternate reality in which one person is told that they can't trust their eyes, their ears or, especially, their intuition. It is crazy-making and I can remember wondering if I was, literally, losing my mind. Because what was coming out of my husband's mouth just didn't match up with what I was seeing play out in front of me.
The gaslighter knows we want to believe that we're wrong. We want reassurance that things aren't what they appear to me. We want to be told that, despite evidence or intuition to the contrary, everything is just fine and the person we trust most in the world is, in fact, worthy of that trust.
Some of us do sit down and be quiet. We endure the disrespect we get in our own homes and the larger world. We swallow our resentment and try to be grateful for the strides women have made.
But then we reach a tipping point and we just can't tolerate it any longer. Not in our homes. Not in our culture. Not in the world.
I'm having a visceral response to the public gaslighting we're seeing because it has triggered that same sense of helplessness and frustration, that fear that I'm the only sane one. Or am I the crazy one?
There are times, of course, when we're wrong. When the lunch with a co-worker really is innocent. When coming home late really is because of an accident that tied up traffic.
But there are times, oh don't we all know it too well, when we're right but being told we're wrong. When we're told that those texts don't mean anything when they clearly do. When we're chastised for being nosy even as we're turning up proof that he's lying. When we're told we're the crazy ones.
Challenge that with every ounce of strength you have. Challenge anyone who responds to your suspicion with empty platitudes or who turns it against you. Challenge anyone whose response to your genuine fear of betrayal is anything other than, what do you need from me to trust me? Let's work together to build trust of each other.
And watch carefully what's playing out in front of your eyes on the public stage because it gives you a gaslighter's playbook. Watch provable facts become twisted. Watch as people who know better change the subject or turn the question back on the questioner. Watch as self-righteous indignation – "how can you even suggest such a thing" – is employed to imply that WE are the crazy ones for questioning any of this. Watch as "fake news" is used as a shield against any information that the gaslighter doesn't like.
Watch as "alternative facts", which are, of course, lies, are presented as simply a difference of opinion. Facts aren't opinion. They are facts.
And then refuse to tolerate it in your marriage.