The most difficult part of a problem: the solution

After my second experiment wrapped up, I realized I’m doing pretty well with discussing the who, what, why and how of gaslighting in young women. I’ve dabbled in long articles and personal narratives, thus giving a logical and creative frame to my topic. The only difficulty? I can’t seem to figure out the “now what.”

Of course, male superiority in our culture needs to change — both the mindset among men and its systematic power in society. However, gaslighting itself doesn’t have such an easy fix. To say that no one is allowed to refute anyone’s beliefs, feelings or experiences would lead to something potentially dangerous, and here’s why.

Let’s say someone has deeply racist, homophobic, xenophobic or sexist beliefs, which naturally shapes the way they view certain experiences with groups of people. Thus, their feelings about these experiences are also influenced by their prejudice.

I think we can agree those beliefs are morally wrong, and should have no place in someone’s mind because they can lead to discrimination, injustice, violence and a multitude of other issues that should have no place in our society. Yet, if we support complete and consistent validation of one’s emotions and thoughts — even if their experiences are influenced by prejudice — dangerous outcomes could very much take form.

Gaslighting itself refers to the psychological manipulation of making someone question their own sanity for their experiences and feelings. The situation I mentioned before doesn’t seem like psychological manipulation, but the term “gaslighting” can be easily misconstrue and exploited by people who hold beliefs that are very controversial — especially if we encourage a society that allows everyone’s feelings and experiences to be “validated.”

This is a very hard question to answer! And I have no idea how to do it. I think overall, this is the most difficult, high-risk question of my topic. It’s uncomfortable to read, and it made me uneasy writing it. But it’s a crucial part of the conversation.

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