Sometimes y’all ask me…
Wait. Lemme qualify that. Not so much y’all. Mostly it’s the other furry rodents down here in Barataria who consider me a literary genius on the same level as Chaucer or Mark Twain or at least Amanda McKittrick Ros.
Anyway, they ask me how I come about some of the stuff I post on here.
And since that’s one of the Burning Questions Of The Day, I figured I ought to take a stab at it and give you guys some insight on how a guy like me, who’s the most perused and celebrated nutria in all of the media business (and if you disagree, then you go ahead and name somebody), gets inspiration.
And the answer is simple. I get stuff from all over the place. We don’t do rhyme or reason around here.
Like for example, today. MacAoidh sends me this link to, of all places, the Huffington Post. It’s an article by some dork named Yashar Ali about how women shouldn’t let the men in their lives tell ’em they’re crazy.
You’re so sensitive. You’re so emotional. You’re defensive. You’re overreacting. Calm down. Relax. Stop freaking out! You’re crazy! I was just joking, don’t you have a sense of humor? You’re so dramatic. Just get over it already!
If you’re a woman, it probably does.
Do you ever hear any of these comments from your spouse, partner, boss, friends, colleagues, or relatives after you have expressed frustration, sadness, or anger about something they have done or said?
When someone says these things to you, it’s not an example of inconsiderate behavior. When your spouse shows up half an hour late to dinner without calling — that’s inconsiderate behavior. A remark intended to shut you down like, “Calm down, you’re overreacting,” after you just addressed someone else’s bad behavior, is emotional manipulation, pure and simple.
MacAoidh thought it was hilarious that this cat – whose name is Yashar Ali, and who, as it happens was Gavin Newsom’s campaign manager when Newsom won the Lieutenant Governor’s race in California a year or so ago (how freakin’ ruined is THAT place?) – is now giving chicks advice on how to deal with straight dudes. The guy’s bio ought to give you a pretty good rundown of where he’s at…
In 2007, at the age of 26, Yashar joined the Hillary Clinton for President campaign as a national co-chair. He was the youngest co-chair in the campaign.
In 2006, Yashar served as finance chair to then California State Controller Steve Westly’s campaign for Governor. He also served as National LGBT chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) under Senator Chuck Schumer.
He has served on the boards of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), the leading national organization dedicated to preventing bullying in schools; the Liberty Hill Foundation; and Southern California Public Radio.
Sure, sure. He’s that guy you can tell everything to.
Anyway, so MacAoidh sends me this link. He’s rolling on the floor about it, like whaddya think this clown is after with a piece like this – other than he gets to go on Oprah when she gets wind of his bilge.
OK, I won’t use bilge. The other day they had that Alamo movie with John Wayne in it on AMC and the phrase used in that flick was “bunkum and bosh.” I like “bunkum and bosh,” so I’ll call ol’ Yashar’s post “bunkum and bosh.”
The bunkum and bosh goes on, and gives us a great place to segue into something else.
And this is the sort of emotional manipulation that feeds an epidemic in our country, an epidemic that defines women as crazy, irrational, overly sensitive, unhinged. This epidemic helps fuel the idea that women need only the slightest provocation to unleash their (crazy) emotions. It’s patently false and unfair.
I think it’s time to separate inconsiderate behavior from emotional manipulation, and we need to use a word not found in our normal vocabulary.
I want to introduce a helpful term to identify these reactions: gaslighting.
Gaslighting is a term often used by mental health professionals (I am not one) to describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy.
Uhhh, dude. We don’t have an epidemic of guys tellin’ chicks they’re crazy. That’s called the natural order of things. Guys have always said chicks are crazy. And you know what? Chicks say chicks are crazy.
If you’re a whiny gay guy like ol’ Yashar is you think everybody’s mean. That’s why you spend your time trying to make a federal case of stopping people from bullying gay kids in school. Which is a mean thing to do, by the way, except kids get bullied in school for all kinds of reasons and the best way to put a stop to it is to kick the shit out of the bully. That, of course, requires a little bit of, as they used to say in the old days, sand. But lefty weenies like ol’ Yashar aren’t interested in folks, gay or otherwise, having the stones to fight for themselves; they want Hillary Chuck The Schmuck or Gavin Newsom to step in and make the mean people stop with the added benefit that everybody’s gotta vote for Hillary or Chuck The Schmuck or Gavin Newsom, otherwise the mean people win.
Now here’s where this “gaslighting” business comes from. Yashar gets to put on his Roger Ebert hat for a second…
The term comes from the 1944 MGM film, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman. Bergman’s husband in the film, played by Charles Boyer, wants to get his hands on her jewelry. He realizes he can accomplish this by having her certified as insane and hauled off to a mental institution. To pull of this task, he intentionally sets the gaslights in their home to flicker off and on, and every time Bergman’s character reacts to it, he tells her she’s just seeing things. In this setting, a gaslighter is someone who presents false information to alter the victim’s perception of him or herself.
Today, when the term is referenced, it’s usually because the perpetrator says things like, “You’re so stupid,” or “No one will ever want you,” to the victim. This is an intentional, pre-meditated form of gaslighting, much like the actions of Charles Boyer’s character in Gaslight, where he strategically plots to confuse Ingrid Bergman’s character into believing herself unhinged.
A taste of this flick should give you an idea why Yashar thought it was worth posting about…
Yashar says (straight) guys act like the creepy husband all the time and they make chicks crazy…
But gaslighting can be as simple as someone smiling and saying something like, “You’re so sensitive,” to somebody else. Such a comment may seem innocuous enough, but in that moment, the speaker is making a judgment about how someone else should feel.
While dealing with gaslighting isn’t a universal truth for women, we all certainly know plenty of women who encounter it at work, home, or in personal relationships.
And the act of gaslighting does not simply affect women who are not quite sure of themselves. Even vocal, confident, assertive women are vulnerable to gaslighting.
Because women bare the brunt of our neurosis. It is much easier for us to place our emotional burdens on the shoulders of our wives, our female friends, our girlfriends, our female employees, our female colleagues, than for us to impose them on the shoulders of men.
It’s a whole lot easier to emotionally manipulate someone who has been conditioned by our society to accept it. We continue to burden women because they don’t refuse our burdens as easily. It’s the ultimate cowardice.
Whether gaslighting is conscious or not, it produces the same result: It renders some women emotionally mute.
I dunno how MacAoidh managed to make it all the way through this bunkum. I gave out when he started quoting Gloria Steinem toward the end.
But as rotten as all this crap was – and I think MacAoidh just did this to me as revenge for my ripping him on those music collection posts he bored us all with – it did lead me somewhere. And now here’s where I do the big segue.
Because when I did the YouTube search that turned up that scene where Creepy Chuck Boyer fakes out his squeeze and makes her think she’s gone klepto, I also turned up something else. Which is that there’s a band out there called The Gaslight Anthem out of New Jersey.
And I like ’em. I think you guys might like ’em, too. Just try not to get too caught up in those nasty-ass tats the lead singer’s got on his neck. Looks like the collected works of the Venerable Bede up his left side. Anyway, a sample…
This is the one I like best…
Or maybe I like this one better. I can’t decide.
And by the way – and here’s another one of my segues I like to do that really impress the hell out of the other nutria down here in Barataria – that last video is from a music festival in Tennessee called Bonnaroo. Which is a big deal in Manchester, Tennessee every year.
Where the hell is Manchester, Tennessee? Hell if I know. Google Maps says it’s halfway between Chattanooga and Nashville, right close by to Tullahoma – and everybody knows where Tullahoma is, right?
But more important than the fact they do this thing in East Jesus every year is where they got the name Bonnaroo from.
Bet you didn’t know that it came from a Dr. John album.
“Well, we were based in New Orleans at the time we came up with the name, which was around 2001,” recalls Jonathan Mayer, co-founder of Bonnaroo production company Superfly. “We wanted to find a name that had a connection to where we were and what was inspiring to us. I remember sitting in my apartment looking up old records online and I came across this Dr. John album called Desitively Bonnaroo. The word ‘Bonnaroo’ looked cool. It turned out that it’s Creole slang for ‘good stuff.’ That just seemed to represent what we’re about. I Googled it and it didn’t seem like it was too widely used, which meant that it was a term that we could really brand as our own. It’s been a perfect fit.”
So that’s kinda cool.
Here’s the actual Dr. John song, played at the actual Bonnaroo festival last year in East Jesus (rather than somewhere in New Orleans)…
Dr. John is good stuff.
Of course, Dr. John would probably say chicks are crazy. And if you mentioned gaslights to him he wouldn’t think of some kinda creepy manipulatin’. He’d probably tell you about the French Quarter or somethin’.
And if you got lucky he might give you a rendition of somethin’ like this if the conversation got his wheels turnin’…