Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Feminifesto Seminar Club: Session 10

Raakhee Suryaprakash

The tenth session of the Feminifesto Seminar Club on August 4, 2019 had us reflecting on gaslighting and challenges to our boundaries from the patriarchal society we occupy and how circles of support in the form of good friends and enlightened family members – especially female circle of friends -- can help counter it.

Gaslight - manipulate by psychological means into doubting their own sanity.
Putting our anecdotes and experiences with gaslighting shared in this session in context were a story and an article. We read the modern-day fable for us feminists by The News Minute’s Soumya Rajendran called Mad Elephant – and apt story for a Red Elephant Foundation exercise. Then we read the Medium article by Sophie King, “How the Concept of Forgiveness is Used to Gaslight Women.”

Gaslighting, we realized comes from expected and unexpected quarters all under the influence of internalized patriarchy.  Feminifesto session regulars, Raakhee Suryaprakash, Kirthi Jayakumar, Vaishnavi Pallapothu, Malavika Mani and Sri Indrasenan as well as our guest for the day graduate student Shruthi Rajkumar shared experiences of being gaslit.

Following the sharing which took a toll on us, we watched and giggled over the CBS videoFemale Friendship Formula.” Friendships and support systems are what can help people in general and women in particular counter attempts to gaslight. In the CBS video from 2010, Psychologist and Women's Health Magazine contributor Dr. Michelle Callahan shared with CBS host Maggie Rodriguez and her best friend Tami Frymark the means to “maintaining life-long bonds between women” and the two friends found echoes in their friendship. 

We all need this formula, as over the decades women have fewer confidants than ever before. For example, in 1985, according to Dr. Callahan a woman on average had three confidants, in 2010 it was less than two close friends to confide in and with many reporting having no close confidants to help them navigate the buffets of life. Dr Callahan highlighted the importance of meeting in real life instead of just via social media “Face time not Facebook!” Female friendships fall by the wayside, as women juggle family and work but considering how much friendships help with health and mental health they need to be prioritized and encouraged by any formula that works.

Finally, as a means to counter reliving the trauma of gaslighting from our near and dear ones as well as society as large intoxicated by patriarchy and toxic masculinity we did an exercise inspired by the book, Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell. Each of us wrote down three amazing things about the rest of our group and these notes of goodness serve as a token of our circle of support within these sessions.

Three Amazing Things About You from a circle of supportive female friends to combat gaslighting and challenges to your boundaries from society using the concept of forgiveness to gaslight women.