Gaslighting

Trinidad Sexism

I rented an apartment at a great price from an elderly man. In front of his real estate agent he informed me there were no issues with utilities and he liked people that kept to themselves and he left people alone. Once I moved in, he began stopping me for random conversations that would eventually lead to comments about my body and statements involving sex or porn. I would repeatedly tell him I was uncomfortable with those conversations and it was inappropriate. He also started cutting off the water for random construction projects before I left for work or church and said he had the right to maintain the property whenever he wanted and it NEEDED to be done. Once inside my apartment, he would continue describing my “enticing” body and come back to topics of sex and porn. He repeatedly asked me if he had a chance with me/ if I would give him a chance/ and if I would be interested in him / what I thought about him/his appearance etc and I turned him down each time. No matter how many times I expressed not having any interest in anything with him, he would tell me I can’t blame him because he is a man and it’s because of the way I look and he sees my body and I have to expect that because he is just being a man. I continued telling him I was uncomfortable and eventually started asking one of my friends to come over any time the landlord had some random project to do in my apartment. The landlord then began approaching me when I was alone and scolding and lecturing me for bringing someone over as if he needed to be watched. I told him it was a matter of my safety and comfort as men I did not know were randomly going through my living space for these construction projects. He insisted that I should be alone when he comes over and that his right as landlord includes coming in whenever he wants to see what is going on in his place. He told me everyone he ever met loves him and thinks he’s the greatest landlord and man ever and I’m the only person he’s ever met that doesn’t love him. He has stopped me from going to work, church, and meetings. I’ve had to stay home for random “fixes” he claimed to have to urgently address which he used to sexually harrass me and claimed he never told me to stay home, I just chose to keep him company. He has also yelled at me for calling him out on it. He insisted to me that my friend coming over to witness what was going on was really just using me for sex and insisted that we were having sex and he KNEW (there was nothing of the sort). However, he would also soften his tone and speak very politely when my friend came over or if he saw that I had my phone on speaker. Due to the COVID situation, my job was affected and I asked the landlord if he would accept the government grant. He said yes but delayed in giving me my last receipt for half a month, which in turn delayed my application. By the end of the first month of missed rent, he gave me an eviction notice. After he sent passive aggressive notes by my door, I sent a lawyer’s letter informing him that he agreed to wait on the COVID grant, and I had offered to stop the grant and borrow cash to pay him and he refused, but that I would oblige and move out. Today he replied via email denying everything and claiming I brought men into the property, distinguished by their skin color. I am still moving out before the time limit given on the eviction notice. A lawyer told me that his denials and claims have nothing to do with eviction and he has no grounds. He is lying about everything and I think it’s because of the rejection to his sexual interest. There is a new tenant that looks like a fearful young woman and I wonder if she is his next target. I am literally afraid of turning on any lights or making a sound to give any indication that I am home to avoid anything more from him until I move out. I have been assaulted before and I am just trying to avoid being on the receiving end of another man’s anger.

Emma

I have a story that I know a lot of women have also been through. A guy I considered to be a close friend of mine admitted he had feelings for me, I politely told him I did not feel the same and bluntly, that it would never happen. The following weeks after I was bombarded with texts trying to force me to change my mind. When I said no he saw it as an insult, insisting that I should be flattered. When I told him to leave me alone after countless 4am paragraphs and turning up to one of my functions, he made me out to be a monster. He was horrible and manipulative and I felt scared to see him on the street. Ladies if your gut tells you a guy is like this block him and do not look back or feel bad!! As women, we are made to feel responsible for His feelings, but the only feelings that matter are yours.

R

The last few weeks have been weird. This ex and I decided to stay as bffs after the breakup, and for the most part it’s been good. He and I are the only people in our respective friend groups who share the same sense of dark humour, and we still have plenty in common despite no longer being officially together. It’s been this way for 1+ years. Lately, we’ve been starting up again, in both a physical and romantic way. We’re both frustrated, and have embarrassingly strong feelings for one another, so fair enough. We’ve even shagged a few times. Now, part of the reason we broke up was my abysmal sex drive. I have been seriously abused in the past, which as you can imagine has had a great impact on me. I understood his reasoning; he’s human after all. But tonight, it was different. We were both drunk (I still am as I type this), and we came to an agreement that I would sleep with him for money. $10, to be precise. $15 or more for anything else. We finished up a while ago, and he tried to sweet talk me out of $15. I said no, and he protested. By the end of it, I felt worthless. I know this is fucked up, I know this is weird, but it’s just somehow the way it turned out. Just now, he came back into my room, worried about how I actually saw that encounter. He wondered if I saw it as real, or just roleplay. His particular level of disconnect is fascinating, given the endless twists & turns my mind has been going through recently. He’s not dense, he’s not insensitive, but the sheer difference in perspective is very interesting. I was 100% serious. And some part of me thought he knew that, and was conspiring against me anyway. I wish people could reply to these posts; Am I crazy? Am I overreacting to a situation I caused myself? Or am I right to feel so worthless? I’ve given up looking for answers.

MK

My landlord is a raging narcissist and misogynist and cherry picks his tenants as people whom he perceives as weak or timid so that he can pull all sorts of illegal stuff and intimidate his tenants into submission. I fit into his favorite category–young woman. The first year living here was frustrating but bearable. He would invade our privacy a bit and stop by at weird times, but I put up with it to maintain the peace. It wasn’t until this year and he started refusing to make repairs and trying to drop all sorts of illegal charges on us that I lost my patience and put my foot down and stand up for my tenant rights. That’s when the sexist harassment started: he called me “vile little bitch” and all sorts of other names, saying I was “hysterical” and only backing down when my dad, a man and the cosigner on my lease, threatened him with legal action. However, he then began sending me emails in secret, threatening to “make me pay” or make my life miserable for getting my dad involved. He sends these sorts of letters to me now any time I raise an issue, from fixing a light to asking him to provide simple documentation. He has decided that I’m some sort of ringleader whenever other tenants complain about issues with their own home and sends me emails when that happens, claiming I’ve poisoned people against him. He clearly can’t stand intelligent women or women who stand up for themselves. he acts completely differently with my male neighbors and even with my female neighbor who always insists her boyfriend be there when the landlord is around. It is clear he wants to come off as a “big strong man” in order to intimidate me. I’m finally moving out, but the people he’s been bringing in to see the apartment have one thing in common: all are young women in their 20s. I want to tell them all to run away as far as possible and I would if I weren’t afraid of this guy. I’ve been sexually harassed and called names before, but this is the first time in my life where I’ve wished I was a man so that this landlord would respect my autonomy and leave me alone. It makes my blood boil.

Erika Azevedo

This happened to me on March 2nd, in the afternoon, as I was exiting a mall after taking my six-year-old dautgher to the movies. This happend in Sao Paulo, Brasil. “If you were a guy I would punch you in the face” said Bruno, a passenger in a car that had just scratched mine. What “caused” the threat was the fact that I, a woman, was demanding that his buddy took responsibility for the damage he did on my car by being a smart-ass and cutting me off from a turn left only lane. As I got out of the car to look at the damage the driver (who was not the verbal agressor) said sorry, but when I said he would have to pay for the fender bender (small, but yet costy, been there done that) he changed his mind and started saying I couldn´t prove he had done that to my car. I was firm in saying (as I took pictures of the damage and of his license plate) that he was going to take responsibility. At that point, his buddy, got out of the car saying as he gesticulated “stop the show, stop the show, he said he is sorry already” and went on, both guys (throwing quite a show I must say….) not letting me say anything…as I looked at them (coincidently positioned between my car – window open, my daughter curiously observing the scene – and both men). I was eventually able to say “show? what show? I am only demanding what is right”. To what Bruno replied “You are out of control, he already said he was sorry”. “I am not out of control. Your buddy said sorry, but now is refusing to take responsibility, I am simply demanding what is right, when you decided to get out of the car and join your friend. What for?” When he finally said the pearl “if you were a man I would punch you in the face”. Calmly I looked at him with serious eyes “your buddy makes a mistake for which he doesn’t want to take responsibility and you are telling me you’d punch me?!”, he replied “you bet I would”…”well, I can punch too” said I while I continued looking at him. He left the scene cursing “fucking bitch” (to those who speak Portuguese he said “folgada do caralho”). As far as car damage goes the situation was sorted. But I reflected a lot about it and the meaning of what the guy said: First thing he said, the “show”. Why? Because there was a woman facing a man up and telling him “you made a mistake you’d better take responsibility for it”? Why “out of control”? I did not raise my voice, lose focus of the matter (ruined side mirror) or anything. They were the ones speaking over me, gesticulating and not letting me speak. Could it be that I was out of their control by not being intimidated by them as they obviously were trying to make me feel? One might say “ah, but they’d do the same were you a guy”…no, they wouldn’t. They would not say I was out of control or that I was putting up a show. They might start a fist fight or likely become buddies with the driver. Then another person might say “but did you want to be punched”…he might try but the punch is not the issue. The issue is the attempt to intimidate me because I was a female driver. The behaviour of the guy who actually caused the damage was a typical city driver’s atittude who doesn’t want to take responsibility for his actions. But his buddy, Bruno, his narrative towards me was permeated by sexism. A woman daring to debate with two men had better be “crazy”, “out of control”. “The fucking bitch” did not take the position they were attempting to put me on. Bruno did not punch me out of respect (because I am a woman) nor fear (because I said I could punch), but because his intention was never the physical agression per se, but the intimidation based on how he expects women to behave when around men. PS: I shared this story with several friends intending to educate them. Male friends. I wonder how many thought, when first reading the sentence “If you were I guy I would punch you in the face”, “what did she do?”. I wonder how many of them called a woman crazy when she was standing up for herself. They took it well, I hope they truly reflect upon their actions in the future. PS 2: I am a 2nd degree black belt karateca and I could probably have defended myself from an attack from that guy, however, what karate gave me was mental empowerment to withstand the symbolic agression of that act.

Val, Belgium

This happened to me last Saturday, at a family function. It really messed me up, so I tried writing about it to help me process. I decided to post it here, because this is something we deal with daily, and people who read it told me it made them feel less alone. “Yesterday I was told that wolf-whistling and catcalling are nothing more than compliments. That it is normal for men to appreciate a beautiful woman walking by. Yesterday I was told that I should feel flattered by the attention, and that women who aren’t are stuck up and lack insight. Yesterday I was told that if women don’t want male attention, they should dress conservatively and cover up. That women who don’t should expect men to respond to that, because it’s in their nature. Yesterday I was told that men who don’t do this are all gay. That Real Men are triggered by women’s looks, and incapable of self-restraint when confronted by them. Yesterday I was told that it was normal that this happened to me, starting at the age of 12, because men can’t help themselves and women should take that into consideration. Yesterday I was told that street harassment was harmless, because those men are not rapists. That I should be fine with being ranked on a scale of fuckability by strangers and acquaintances, because they are likely just Nice Guys complimenting me. Yesterday I was told that feminists hate all men, just for being men. That expecting men to live up to a higher standard (meaning: treating women as people in their own right, instead of objectifying them at every turn) is ridiculous and misandrist. Yesterday I was told that it’s normal for men to treat women as something to look at, there for their pleasure, and that I should be fine with being reduced to my looks, because they don’t mean any harm. Yesterday I was told that a man’s right to objectify me with wolf-whistles and catcalls is more important than my right to walk down a street un-harassed. That it trumps my right to feel safe and comfortable while living my life. Yesterday I was told that the men who’ve harassed me over the years were provoked, and that they couldn’t help themselves. Yesterday I was told that only psychopaths rape women, and that those men on the streets aren’t that, they were just following their nature. Yesterday I was told that avoiding a man’s discomfort and bruising of his ego is more important than my right to be treated as a person in my own right at all times. Yesterday I was told that my feelings and experiences don’t matter, because I take everything too personal. That my anger and disgust at being reduced to a sexual object are exaggerated. Yesterday I lost my temper, after unsuccessfully trying to argue my point, and told a man to fuck off before storming off. I was told off for being disrespectful to a hardworking man. That I should overlook the sexism and misogyny and defer to him, because he works hard and provides for his family. Yesterday I heard a man say to his wife that her feelings, opinions and arguments don’t matter, because they are not his and therefore unimportant. Yesterday I heard old-white-male-tears complain that today’s youth had no respect. I heard reassuring shushes confirm that the pain of his bruised ego was worse than my pain and outrage from being seen as a plaything for men, there for the taking. Yesterday I heard the above out of the mouth of a man that I trusted. A man I admired. A man I respected. Yesterday I heard him say things that made it clear that, as a woman, I am first and foremost there for the pleasure and enjoyment of men. Yesterday I heard him, whom I’d always thought enlightened, reduce my gender to objects and his to animals who cannot control their basic instinct. Yesterday I fought for my gender and his. For our right to be seen as equals, and theirs to be seen as more than base animals. Yesterday I tried to argue, to educate and enlighten. I tried to compress the female experience into clear and nuanced arguments in a way that might sink in. Yesterday I fought #NotAllMen and #WomenDoThisToo. Yesterday I tried to use data and evidence to put a stop to the derailment tactics. Yesterday I stood for all my sisters who are objectified, for all my brothers who are told they are no more than a meat suit with a sex drive. Yesterday I lost respect for a man whom I thought was better than this. Yesterday I stood alone.” Originally posted on https://goingfullval.wordpress.com