We live in a world today where people have adopted, mastered and doubled down on the scary strategy of The Spin. The spin is about turning someone’s upset into an upset of your choosing. Typically, your upset will be related to the other person’s, but you spin the story so it looks as if you or your associate is the one who’s been hurt, victimized or treated poorly.
Another term for this is gaslighting. Psychology Today defines gaslighting as “a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality.” It is a ploy used most commonly by dictators, narcissists and abusers. Spinning or gaslighting can occur in your home, on the job, in your friendships, at your place of worship or on a world level.
These past few weeks have involved some spins that are particularly damaging to our country. The most damaging instance of gaslighting over this time period, came from the President of the United States. This past week Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school. After first saying Dr. Ford was “very credible”, the President later mocked her testimony to an audience of thousands who laughed and cheered in response.
The spin came after the mocking.
Speaking to reporters, the Presdident turned the tables on the alleged victim and changed her into the perpetrator. His spin went like this, “This is a very scary time for young men,” he warned, because, he insinuated, girls could falsely accuse them at any time. “Somebody could come and say 30 years ago, 25 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago, he did a horrible thing to me. He did this, he did that, he did that and, honestly, it’s a very dangerous period in our country.” Boom. There it is. The accused is transformed into the victim, while the victim turns into the perpetrator and the country buys into the new story. This is the spin. This is gaslighting.
Many of the President’s followers took hold of this spin and ran with it. Mothers came out on Twitter, Facebook and in the news, fearing for the lives of their sons who could be falsely accused by “some” girl at any moment. Some told stories of someone they had heard of whose son or friend or friend of a friend had been falsely accused. Fear spread like wild fire. It was a brilliant move even if it was a lie. This total fabrication to manipulate his audience effectively changed the conversation away from Judge Kavanaugh to our sons. The President shifted the blame and the spotlight away from the accused told the nation they owed Judge Kavanaugh an apology and vilified another woman out to ruin the lives of our poor young boys.
That fearmongering, though, was not effective with the women and men who slowed down to look at the truth. The TRUTH. The data. The research. The FACTS.
The reality is that males are not the ones who need to be afraid. Females are far more at risk of being sexually assaulted than are males of being falsely accused. There is a 2% false report rate in regard to sexual crimes, the same rate of false reporting as in any other crime. In fact, even men who have committed rape don’t have a lot to be fearful of, given that two out of three sexual assaults go unreported. Take that in for a minute, two out of three sexual assaults go unreported. This is an outrageous statistic given that one out of every six females has been a victim of attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. That’s a lot of rapists going unpunished and free in the world because females don’t report rapes.
Females are too damn afraid to report sexual assaults or rape because they know their peers, friends, strangers, congressional representatives and even their country’s President will likely attack, blame, mock or vilify them for their report. This is, in fact, exactly what played out when Dr. Ford came forward—and by the President of the United States, no less. And for those sexual assaults that are reported, out of every 1,000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free. Let me emphasize that again so that we can all take in the gravity of this statistic the next time someone tries to redirect attention away from sexual assault to fear for our boys—out of every 1,000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free (https://www.rainn.org/statistics/criminal-justice-system).
So the next time you hear a women tell you she’s afraid her son will be falsely accused by “some girl”—recognize the spin. When a male boss says he’s afraid to hire a woman for the job because she may falsely accuse him of sexual harassment—recognize the spin. And the next time the President of the United States shouts out at a rally, remarks to a reporter or tweets on Twitter that our nation should be afraid for our young men—recognize the spin.
This spin is bullshit. This spin is gaslighting. This spin is a manipulative attempt to undermine victims all over the world, silence their voices and keep power in the hands of men.
Should our nation be afraid for the men? NO! This idea is so ridiculous that it is hard to fathom how so many women have unthinkingly bought into it. The reality is that it is not men who need to be afraid of being accused; it is women who need to be afraid of reporting. This is fact. No matter how you choose to spin it otherwise
Challenge: To the females in the world, continue to RISE. Speak your truth, have your backs and stand in your power. To the kindhearted, understanding men in the world, RISE with us. Call bullshit to the spin, have our backs and stand up to the men who are giving you all a bad name. Most of all, treat the females in your home, at your offices and in your world with the same respect you would want the world to give you.