Stop Gaslighting Women

To the women who say they are not treated differently, paid less or do not support women’s rights…
 
It’s not my job to convince you that women’s rights is a “thing.” If you don’t see it or experience it I beg you to open your eyes to the truth — to what going in around you.

If you say you don’t experience being treated differently because you’re a woman. I say congratulations! You’re blinders are amazing. And your privilege is showing…
 
I know how hard it is to see what you don’t want to see. I’ve been there, but when the discrimination smacks you in the face repeatedly, you have no choice but to see it for what it is — a tragedy — and take a stand to make the world a better place. Not just for ourselves, but for our children and their children and their children…
 
I’d like to ask why you’re in denial. Why is it so hard to see what so many others are talking about? Why is it so important to deny others experience?

· If you haven’t had someone touch you inappropriately without your permission. Good for you.

· If you’ve never had someone at work make sexual advances towards you or make inappropriate comments. Good for you.

· If you’ve never been retaliated against for speaking up when you were treated unfairly. Good for you.

· If you’ve ever worked your tail off and didn’t to get passed over. Good for you.

· If you’ve never been told that you’re overreacting and you’re too emotional when you do speak up about being sexually harassed, treated unfairly, passed over, paid less, not acknowledged and not promoted. Good for you.

· If you’ve never been pushed up against a wall and kissed without your permission. Good for you.

· If you’ve never had your ideas dismissed — simply because you are a woman — and had a man make the same pitch and everyone think it’s brilliant. Good for you.

· If you’ve never tried to purchase a car and they only want to speak to your husband. Good for you.

· If you’ve never tried to test drive a car and they refused to let you drive it because the salesman didn’t think you needed a car that big because you don’t have any children. Good for you.

· If you’ve never tried to get estimates for new windows in your house and they will only come if your husband will be home (and you’re not married). Good for you.

I say “good for you” with the utmost sincerity. I am truly happy that these horrible things have not happened to you. But the odds are not in your favor that NONE of these things or some other kind of discrimination has ever happened to you. You may not have been aware, but they were happening.

Just because you aren’t aware that they are happening to you — doesn’t mean they are not actively happening to others. Stop denying that these things don’t happen every day to other women.

Why are you trying to pretend it doesn’t happen? Who or what are you protecting? Who benefits from your denial?

I can guarantee it’s not your daughter. When she isn’t allowed to turn in her homework late but the little boy next to her can. That hurts. Are you willing to stand up for her? Are you willing to fight for her? Are you willing to call people out for the unfair homework treatment? Because it’s only just the beginning.

When she’s become a victim of sexual harassment because the guys in the office don’t respect her — what will you tell her? Will you say it’s not a big deal? “Boys will be boys.” Or it’s just “locker room talk.” Even though she’s not in the locker room.

Will you tell her that she needs to work twice as hard for ¾ of the recognition and pay? Will you tell her that she should keep her head down and ignore (code for accept) their behavior? Will you tell her to not let it get to her? When it becomes increasingly more and more uncomfortable and blatant will you encourage her to stand up to stop it or will you tell her to turn the other cheek and not make a scene?
 
Are you protecting your daughter by turning a blind eye to the harsh and uncomfortable reality that she will too soon be facing? Will she look back and ask why you didn’t prepare her or protect her?

Do you think you’re protecting your son by shielding him? Do you think your son will grow up to become a man who believes that he is better than a woman? Do you think your son will learn to treat women with respect if you don’t respect women?

Do you think your son will benefit from being more respected than your daughter? Who wins in that scenario? Honestly neither — especially because you don’t believe it’s a fact. It’s not neat tied up in a nice little bow. It’s messy. It’s really uncomfortable.

There’s more to respecting women than holding a door for them…so much more. You have the chance to teach your children that boys and girls are equal. Boys are not smarter than girls. Boys are not stronger than girls. Girls can do anything boys can do. This education starts young and it depends on you instilling and drilling it into them. But kids learn mostly by what they see and hear from their parents. What conversations are you having at home that your children are listening to? What interactions are they watching?

You have an opportunity to change the future for men and women by teaching your children gender equality. But you can’t do that if you don’t realize it’s a problem. If you don’t see what’s broken, you can’t be part of the solution.

Are you protecting the men in your life? Are you making it easy for them to not honestly look at the way they treat women by telling them that you’re not treated differently? Are you allowing them to keep their head in the sand by not having conversations about why women should be treated equally? Are you allowing them to tell your sons that boys don’t cry, don’t be a sissy or ridicule them for “running like a girl”? Are you allowing your daughters to be told they should be quiet, pretty, thin and nice?

I beg you to stop feeding the men in your life the fake platform that they are not part of the problem. I beg you to stop telling them that the women who are calling out inappropriate and unfair behavior are crazy liars and you have no idea what we are talking about. Stop feeding their ego by pretending that it’s ok to be second, less than, marginalized and disrespected.

Not all men disrespect women. There are many men in my life who are fantastic examples of people who believe in equality and do their best to treat women with respect. This is not about male bashing at all. It’s simply about holding up a mirror for the men in your life to see themselves and evaluate if they are part of the solution or part of the continuing problem we have in our society. We can’t create change if no one is looking in the mirror and being honest with our roles.

Do you think you’re protecting yourself? Are you so uncomfortable with the possibility that everything I’ve said is actually happening that it’s easier for you to pretend it isn’t and hope it will just go away? Are you in a relationship where this behavior is normal? Are you’re not able to speak your mind? Are you being told that all women are treated equally? If so, why do you believe that story? Did you grow up with a mother who turned a blind eye to it as well and you’re now the unprepared little girl?

Right now you’re snug in your bed, covers pulled over your head, curtains drawn, doors locked tight. But there’s a whole world going on right outside your door. We invite you to join us. I’ll be honest with you, sometimes it’s hard, ugly and uncomfortable, but sometimes it’s amazing, connected, beautiful and inspiring.

As much as I want to barge into your house and rip the damn covers off you, I can’t. This awakening only happens when YOU are willing to look at the harsh truth. It only happens when YOU are willing to admit that things can be better and should be better. It only happens when YOU are feeling strong enough to admit that you have a role in the broken system by allowing and accepting it for so long.

So please, stop shaming the women who are standing up and demanding to be treated fairly and equally. Please stop gaslighting women into questioning our reality because you are unwilling to see yours. Take a minute to consider why so many people are seeing something you can’t see. Stop being afraid to understand what’s really happening. There’s a whole big world out there. We invite you to join us.