Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Gaslighting Primer

What is gaslighting?

Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of psychological abuse in which a victim is manipulated into doubting their own memory, perception, and sanity.
The term owes its origin to the 1938 play Gas Light and has been used in clinical and research literature.

Though gaslighting is a tool often employed by abusers -- the most classic gaslighting scenario (and the first one our minds jump to) is an evil, mustache-twirling man gaslighting his naive female lover.  The truth of gaslighting is more nuanced: it can occur anywhere from anyone.  Gaslighting is a form of passive-aggressive behavior.  In order to identify it, it is useful to look at the goals of the gaslighter.  

The goal of gaslighting is to force a person who opposes the gaslighter’s will into doing what the gaslighter wants because it seems like the only way to regain order, peace, happiness, or sanity.  

Gaslighting Example A

A classic example of gaslighting is the bully of the schoolyard, office, or family party who makes a deliberately upsetting statement and then backpedals with “I was only joking.”  If the victim does not go along with the joke, the bully accuses them of having no sense of humor.  However, if the victim manages to turn the joke on the bully, for instance, replying with, “Were you born an insufferable prick or do you have to work at it?”  The bully will react by either sulking or outright violence.

Gaslighting Example B

Another form of gaslighting is to question the victim’s past, for example “Your mother must have hurt you bad for you to hate women so much.”  The gaslighter loves to reframe incidents he or she does not know the first thing about, assuming a mantle of expertise in order to appear more authoritative, and in doing so will show any number of his or her own biases.  Though the best strategy is to avoid responding, one can always return by tactfully questioning the gaslighter’s past, for instance, “Your mother must have dropped you on your head before she threw you in the dumpster with the other wannabe abortions, it would explain SO MUCH about your personality.” The ultimate gaslighting behavior is the "but the world we had before you went vegan was NORMAL and now you are RUINING it!" form of gaslighting, which is the type parents often inflict upon their children. This form also happens among groups of friends. For instance, when a person decides she is no longer going to eat, wear, or use animals, her friends and family will react by: 1. Accusing the vegan of ruining get-togethers when it is they who have made gatherings a battleground due to the presence of a few veggie hot dogs 2. Making veganism the butt of every joke, because it is just so darn unusual 3. Making trés original statements like "you can't save all the animals in the world from suffering, so why even try?" Once again, avoiding a response is highly recommended, but if you have to interact because oh I dunno, maybe you enjoy having family and friends, you must learn not to talk to them. At least sometimes. What I mean is that at some point, you have shown the people you love videos like Forks Over Knives, Earthlings, Vegucated, Blackfish, and How Not To Die; you have given them materials, cookbooks, website links, and everything it takes to make a positive change, and yet they don't. Perhaps they are still in that ugly place where they are gaslighting you in a feeble attempt to make you believe their exploitation of animals is "normal". Don't fight them. Put on a serene, beatific smile. Do nice things, be polite, be courteous. Now sit back and watch as they go bonkers trying to make you as angry as they are, trying to get that reaction that never happens. Let them give you the silent treatment. When they begin talking to you again, act like it never happened. Ask, "Are you feeling okay? I haven't heard from you in awhile." In this way, you will turn the gaslighter's portrait of you as "abnormal" or "unbalanced" into their Kryptonite... into that which they fear the most: A MIRROR. Perhaps you, with your pleasant demeanor and sweet disposition, are not the insane one after all. Could all of that cognitive dissonance be their own??? Is it possible the VEGAN IS RIGHT???

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

30 Questions Parents Should Never Ask A Childfree Misanthrope

Cognitive dissonance about overpopulation shows itself in odd, backwards ways.  When the parent of one or more biological children stumbles upon a person who is childfree by choice, a deep and resonant fear of the increasingly-obvious phenomenon known as the Sixth Extinction rears its ugly head.  This cameo appearance throws the breeding human into schizoid overdrive, vivifying phantoms of scarcity that will someday include her own descendants, whom in turn will curse those who brought them onto a dying planet that needed another human “miracle” like the motorcyclist needed an open manhole cover.

When her internal mental chaos trumps tact, the procreating party will often pose questions of a most gauche and uncouth nature.  Though none of the following statements/questions deserve the dignity of an answer, here are a few I have come up with off the top of my misanthropic head.  For the sake of manners, I do not suggest uttering them in response, even if the original question was twice as rude.

1. “You’re not having children?  What a bad decision.”

First, how dare you?  Second, I could say the exact same thing about your decision to have children, but unlike me, it’s too late for you to change your mind.

2.  “Now that I have children, my life has true meaning.”

That is pathetic and puts way more pressure on your kid than is fair.

3. “You’re a crazy cat lady in training.”

Crazy Cat Lady is called my goal in LIFE.  CCLs FUREVER!!!!

4.  “You think you’re tired?  You don’t know what tired is.”

I am reminded of the man who kept hitting himself in the face with a hammer and then complained his nose was broken and his hospital bill was high.

5. “You’re being selfish.”

By f**king without the foresight of birth control, you created a mirror of yourself out of your own flesh on a planet where thousands of species go extinct every day as a direct result of human overpopulation.  In a world of 7.5 billion, people like you invented selfishness -- my hat is off to you.

6. “You’ll change your mind when you meet the right man.”

Thanks for assuming I’m straight and that all heterosexual women can aspire to is male companionship.  The 1950s called; they want their trope back.

7. “What are you waiting for?”

I’m waiting for humans to become a species I like and want to perpetuate.

8. “Your mom had you!”

Wow.  Much logic.

9. “You’re missing out on one of the best things in life.”

It’s also one of the absolute de facto worst.  

10. “Tick tock.”

Isn’t that the insidious sound of your youth slipping away?  While I’m spending mine building businesses, writing books, and fighting for social justice, you’re whittling away the hours with piles of diapers, sticky furniture, and neon-colored cartoon shows that make Donald Trump’s rambling monologues seem intelligent in comparison.

11. “It’s a mom thing.”

Doing the right thing for oneself and one’s planet is a childfree thing.

12. “That’s a shame.  You might regret it.”

Once again, you might (probably) regret bringing a new human onto this Earth, as well you should.  Regretting the unchangeable fact you created a human life seems way worse than the alternative.

13. “What’s wrong with you?”

I got 99 problems, but wanting to have kids ain’t one.

14. “That size of house for just the two of you?  It’s a waste of space.”

I’m just making room for all the pets you guys abandon when you dump them at the shelter upon breeding a new, unneeded human.  The pig is going to need her own private suite; she can’t possibly be expected share the cat’s boudoir.

15. “You would be such a great mom.”

I am a great mom.  You don’t get the Crazy Cat Lady title without serious credentials.  Actually, my cat is happier, smarter, and less spoiled than your kid, which I guess is testament to good parenting on my part.

16. “Just find a donor and have kids.  I’ll babysit.”

How about no?  BTW I wouldn’t trust you to babysit my sea monkeys, seeing the way your toddler behaves in public.  Whatever are you feeding him?

17. “It’s different when they’re your own.”

I’m not so vain to think my own flesh mirror is somehow better than other people’s because it contains my DNA.  

18. “Don’t wait too long.”

Why, because Miami, London, and New York will be under water so that’s three less places for them to move?  Why, because droughts, including the ongoing one in the US, will be worse and further along?  Why, because the Great Garbage Patch in the ocean will be the size of Russia instead of the size of Texas?  

19. “You’d better hurry up and give your husband a child before he goes and finds someone who will.”

Your life is so very, very sad if you would even think of saying that aloud.

20. “You don’t have children, so you won’t understand.”

I don’t WANT to understand the motivations of someone who hits themselves in the face with a hammer ON PURPOSE.

21. “You don’t know what real love is.”

And I don’t want you to show me.

22. “Wait until your biological clock kicks in.”

My biological clock just kicked.  It is also childfree.

23. Aren’t you worried there won’t be anyone to take care of you when you are older?

So you are saying you had kids so they could be your unpaid nursemaids when you are drooling, senile, and in diapers.  Who’s the selfish one?

24. “Do you hate people?”

“Hate” does not begin to cover the seething enmity I feel towards my fellow Homo stupidens.  Any species dumb enough to bring down its own omnicidal extinction does not deserve the flattery of my own uterus-created donation to its ranks.

25. “What will you do with your life?”

What will you do after spending your best years chasing after rugrats, cleaning up messes, or working at a job you hate to put a roof over their heads instead of risking it all to follow your dreams?  I am already doing my life; yours is the one that is on hold.

26. “Is it because you don’t want to pass your genes onto someone else?”

My genes are totally superior to yours, actually.  I have all sorts of genetic pluses, like a big brain, robust health, fantastic endurance, symmetry, and a natural resistance to addiction.  The thing I don’t want to pass on to someone else is the worsening future of this planet.  That’s why if I really wanted children, I would adopt them.

27. “Won’t your partner leave you when they find out?”


28. “Are you even a woman?”

Heaven help your children if they’re transgender, you prick.

29. “How can you ever hope to be a family?”

True families come in all shapes and sizes and degrees of furriness, and they’re not always related by blood or species.

30. “Having children is what we were put on this Earth to do.”

Said the yeast in the Petri dish after a spoonful of sugar was introduced.  Science hint: This does not end well for the yeast.