Don’t worry, America.

Gaslighting. Once an obscure movie title, gaslighting is now part of the American vernacular. Google defines gaslighting as:

On October 2, 2018, a pool reporter asked Donald Trump what message he would give to young men in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court nomination hearings. Trump’s reply:

“I say that it’s a very scary time for young men in America, when you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of. This is a very difficult time.”

On social media outlets, I have “friends” who are posting their concerns for their sons. Donald Trump Jr. proclaimed that he is more concerned about his sons’ facing false sexual misconduct accusations than for his daughters’ safety against male aggression. There is even a #HIMTOO movement where men are banding together to share their stories of being falsely accused. Unfortunately, anyone can be a victim of false allegations. I know personally of a man who faced outlandish charges of touching a child, which led to a battle to clear his name. Americans have just cause to be concerned about false accusations.

It is obvious that many people are fearing that the rule of law — innocent until proven guilty — is in jeopardy because women are coming forward in unprecedented numbers to declare that men have harassed, touched, hurt, and violated them. Many famous people have faced consequences for these charges, they have names like Weinstein, Lauer, and Cosby. Americans have just cause to worry that powerful people will abuse their positions and disregard the legal system.

As a teacher, a child can accuse me of anything and others might believe me guilty without hearing a shred of evidence. I have very little power, but I am an authority figure to my students. Parents worry that their children’s teachers, coaches, and religious leaders might wield their positions and mistreat or abuse youngsters. The Roman Catholic Church is facing a report that hundreds of priests abused children for decades with no recourse. Americans have just cause to worry that powerful people will abuse their positions.

The office of president of the United States is the most powerful job in the entire world. And yet, President Trump was elected after clear evidence of his misogyny. In a 2005 interview with Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood,” Donald Trump spoke of his power over women:

“You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

When you are a star, or you are rich, or you are a politician…you can do anything. Americans have many examples of certain people, who have attained status, doing whatever they like, whenever they want.

Asked what his message was to women in the wake of the Kavanaugh hearings, President Trump stated with a smile and a slight wink:

“Women are doing great.”

Those four words, along with the president’s arrogant demeanor, should be the example Google uses for gaslighting when the word is researched. Donald Trump is the Gaslighter in Chief. The president, is the forty-fourth male president, with no hope of a female president in the near future. But women, Trump tells us, are doing great. Women, who still fear for their safety in an uber, on a dark street, at a party, or in their own homes, are in a wonderful position. America, Trump (and his son) tells us is a safe place for women. According to the president of the United States, American women have nothing to fear.

Jackson Katz, a social researcher, has asked thousands of men and women about fear. A simple question, he poses to both men and women: “What steps to do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourself from being sexually assaulted?”

Jackson Katz

The chart above speaks volumes. But women, according to the leader of the free world, are doing great. American women have nothing to fear.

Gaslighting is a tactic of manipulation to make someone question their reality and their own sanity. “Women, you are doing great,” is another version of “Let the men handle this, pretty ladies.” President Trump is gaslighting the nation. He is also igniting a men’s movement that is contingent on their preexisting power. In the same vein as Scott Greer’s book, No Campus for White Men, he is pitting the sexes against one another in order to distract the American people from the bigger issue: powerful people corrupt the American system. The economy is doing great. Look, you are winning, especially women, they are doing great!

I teach and write about teaching.

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