Snuffing the Gaslight

Why are women always believed to be crazy even when expressing emotion or conviction?

By Daryn O'Neal, Staff Writer

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of The Wrangler Online, its student staff, its adviser, George Ranch High School or Lamar CISD.

She helplessly stares in her dark room, knowing that she is slipping away from sanity. She wonders if she is seeing things, is she crazy, or is a psychological trick is being played on her. She knows that she isn’t crazy, she knows that she is sane, but who is she to judge? I mean after all, she is only a woman.

Since 2016 the term, “gas-light,” has gained popularity, however this term and concept has not only existed for decades, but it has also been associated with the sexism and oppression that women face as a result of the political unrest that has flourished over the later half of the 2010’s decade. Therefore gas lighting has a powerful context that must be explored beyond its colloquial popularity.

In an interview about her famous article, ” Donald Trump is gas lighting America,” American journalist, Lauren Duca said,  “He is making us doubt whether anything is true and it kinda robs us of a foundation of the truth, which is the only way he can be held accountable.”

Gas-lighting often refers to a form of emotional or psychological abuse that aims to deny, dismiss, or distort the victim’s experience or sanity by tricking them into believing that their experiences are over-exaggerated or simply a figment of their imagination.

The origins of the term, gaslight, come from the 1944 Noir/Thriller, “Gaslight.”   Charles Boyer’s, character, Gregory Antin, ruthlessly plans to cover up the fact that he murdered his wife’s Aunt, Alice Alquist, for her expensive jewels that she left to Antin’s wife, Paula Antin. Paula has suspicions that her husband is cheating on her and she knows she didn’t misplace the jewels. Because of this, Gregory embarks on a systematic plan to convince Paula that she is a kleptomaniac and far too mentally ill to leave the house despite Paula’s insistence on the truth.

The only form of symbolism that Paula has in order to confirm her beliefs, is that every time her husband cheats on her, and any time her husband conspires against Paula behind her back, their home’s gas-lights start to flicker.

Because of the movie’s symbolization of the gas-light, the popular term arose. However, in recent years, “gas-lighting,” has become even more noticeable.

Although gas-lighting can happen to anyone, in recent years, society has started to call attention to how gas-lighting disproportionately impacts women due to its at times misogynistic undertones. So while gas-lighting was typically told by the point of view of manipulative men, the downfalls of manipulation through gas-lighting have been strongly influenced by women.

The colloquial origins of the term gas-lighting comes from the word hysteria, and for many years hysteria has been linked to woman-hood because of its Greek translation to the word, ” uterus.”

On top of that, gender norms have enforced the idea that men are made to be strong, powerful, and emotionless, even if those descriptors have a negative impact on men as a whole.

“As a member of Generation X we as young boys were taught to be tough, and show no fear. Being an athlete added even more pressure to always “control” my emotions and show no feelings because showing feelings is a feminine trait. As I have grown older I have learned that self-care means showing emotions and I am happy to see that masculinity and what that means today is being examined.” Texas A&M Director Kelley O’Neal said.

Because of this, women are socialized as emotional beings who are often times labeled for their anger, sadness, or annoyance at any minor inconvenience.

All in all, due to these basic gender norms, gas-lighting has been primarily used against women in order to deny their sense of reality because their status as a woman is synonymous with hysterical outbreaks. However, many women are starting to catch on to this sexist ideal, so they are reclaiming the power from their oppressors.

” It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to feel sorry about,” actress and comedian, Amy Poehler said in a recent interview.

The new turn of the feminist movement, and all of its successors have aimed to tell the stories of a diverse group of young women who once felt as though they are not worthy of being believed or heard.

Through this, many other women who may have once been hesitant, feel comfortable to share their stories.

” When one person says,’ Yeah, me, too,’ it gives permission for others to open up.” Tarana Burke said.

In addition to the new wave of feminism, intersectional feminism, which aims to protect and empower all types of women who also reside within different minority groups, have  prompted not just women, but people who reside in between the gender binary, those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, and women of color who often felt like their voices weren’t being heard , to raise heir voice.

” Despite my non-binary identification, I of course still deal with the same experience as any other feminine-presenting person. Being the type of person to consistently hold leadership positions, you have to always be mentally prepared for people to villainize you when you’re being authoritative, because for some reason women aren’t supposed to be allowed to lead.” Former Wrangler staff writer, and GRHS alumni, Zenobia Wiley, said.

The World finally seems to be catching up to the horrific abuse of women, and their voices. Although there is still work to be done, we must continue to center women and all feminine presenting people, so we can finally snuff the gas-light.