Gaslighting at work

Minding the Workplace

Gaslighting is a form of deliberate manipulation intended to disorient, confuse, and frighten those on the receiving end. Many discussions about gaslighting occur in reference to personal relationships, often in the context of domestic or partner abuse. However, gaslighting can occur in other settings as well, including workplaces. In fact, I predict that we’ll be hearing a lot more about gaslighting at work during the years to come, and I’d like to survey that waterfront.

Despite growing awareness of the term and its underlying behaviors, the idea of gaslighting is so rooted in pop psychology that there are no “official” definitions from more authoritative psychological sources. Indeed, the best definition that I’ve found comes from Wikipedia, a distinctly non-academic source:

…a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or members of a group, hoping to make targets question their own memory, perception…

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I wrote about one of the worst periods I’ve ever had in part 1. Today I write about the time birth control almost killed me – not really, but it could have!

Context: Birth control was recommended as a treatment for dysmenorrhea

Okay, the story. I went to Marie Stopes in Sandton to get a depo shot (Google it. Don’t use it, it’s poison) from people who’s answer to, “What are the side effects?” was “It depends, everyone reacts differently.” In retrospect I should’ve walked out after that. I got the shot anyway and it was the beginning of my second-worst nightmare.

I took only one dose and I had a bottomless period for 3 months, which is how long it takes for the poison to exit your system.

I had a swollen face for three months.

I had a bottomless period for three months.

I had almost no sex for three months.

I was depressed, moody, craving escape in the form of a mental breakdown (a different story about emotional abuse) and it was hell for three months.

On the fourth month it was not a bottomless period anymore, YAY right? Wrong! It was 15 days long with two rest days in between.

I saw three doctors who told me to “wait it out” and that it will “regulate itself” or maybe I should “Give it another try” – FRAUDS!

Doctor number 4 made the bleeding stop. Then I had to take the pill. I didn’t want to. The depo experience traumatised me and I did not want to take another birth control, but it was the only way to fix my cycle immediately.

What am I doing now? I’m on the pill. My skin is popping. My period is regular, shmegular and light as fuck. 

I feel like my body is mine again.


This is about sadness.

I spent two days sleeping and crying over a pain that will never go away. I can’t feel whole, I can’t feel like one complete version of me. I feel like there’s nothing, like I’m nothing but I’m here. I don’t get it. I only feel like myself when I’m crying.

It’s not fair.

Menstruating SUCKS! (Part 1)

Hi, welcome to 2017. This year I will say again that I’m going to write more for my blog because I say that every winter, it’s another winter and I’m here… writing. 

When my period first started – I was going on 13 I think – I was very poor and had to use tissue paper sometimes. It embarrasses me to say it to other people but that’s what happened. So from the beginning, before the cramps and the drama, my period came as another reminder that I was a near destitute member of society and I’ve hated it ever since.

There are plenty stories to tell but I will share the most recent one: the worst of bleedweek.

It was day two of the bleed and my period had given me no signs that some shit was going down. I felt brave enough to go to work kante ha ke itse! It was a set up…

An hour after changing my diaper pad – you know the ones – I stood up and felt my vagina turn into the Victoria Falls. But a young ho wore a diaper so she wasn’t stressed. Then a young ho returned to her seat to discover that her period had painted the chair red.

Not even a diaper can stop a uterus on a mission!


Of course I had to go home so that I could fold myself into a whiny, emotional mess but this bitch called uterus was not done yet. I was almost home when I felt a tickle on my inner thighs. The crippling pains were replaced by a violent flood of menstrual blood which was spilling into my shoes.


Pure penis and Dirty Hos

Before I begin, I have a question for you. Do you identify as a

  1. Loving, nurturing, sweet [wife-able] person, or
  2. A cold-hearted fucking machine?

I ask this seemingly unnecessary question because women are always forced to be one or the other. To be a [wife-able] woman, or to be sexually satisfied. I wish I had the vocab and insight to explain how this is oppressive, but I don’t. I’ll only tell you my experience of it.

A lot of times people say to me, “You’re such a guy.” in reference to my approach to love and sex relationships. I don’t like this, it’s not a compliment. The “guyness” they’ve identified in me is closer to being manipulative than carefree, so I’m usually offended by that observation.

  1. I do not like to be approached, I usually make the first move.

I do this because when a man approaches me first, I worry that he’s putting on an act to feel on my yams. [We] have been socialised into believing that men have to trick women to sleeping with them. That is something I eliminate by making the first move. I’d rather catch him off guard (men don’t usually expect women to make the first move) and ensure that we are honest with each other about what we want.

I receive one of two reactions:

  • “Okay, cool. Do you wanna get some ice cream?”

This is someone who would’ve had the conversation with me anyway, not be a sneaky fake boyfriend creeping around me for the yams.

  • “OMG, you’re ho. I’ll take the sex but ew girl, you gross.”

Pretty self-explanatory. But I wonder, does his penis not deserve better than an ew, ho-girl?

Why would you do sex with a dirty person when your pure, God-given penile gift to women deserves so much better?

Why would any self respecting man want to have sex with someone who… wants to have sex too?



And so I became a ho (Part 1)

One day I realised that for way too many of the wrong years I wasn’t having sex but I’d been raped most of the time. It sucks. I was so shocked, I was feeling like maybe I should just die.

I couldn’t believe that I consider myself a person after people had just violated my body and raped me like I’m not a whole person to say no and be left alone. I wanted to die. I still feel that way sometimes, like I should just die because every day, everywhere I exist – not everywhere I go but wherever I dare to take up some space and exist – people rape me.

I grew up being made to feel like if I express my explicit desire to fuck, I’m gross. I’m wrong, I’m not doing what ladies do. Makes me wonder if that means ladies must be raped and never have sex?

I had q’wuestions.

I started to wonder what the fuck kind of fucked up shit is this? After all that time I’d spent being violated. I thought that the way “sex” happens is that someone kinda forces me to do it, that’s what they mean when they say that we shouldn’t come out right and want to fuck. I stopped hanging out with rapists a long time ago; I stopped chilling out and talking to men like they’re not some kind of “psycho” who’s just plotting to rape me eventually.

That previous sentence isn’t even a lie. Every time a nigga steps to me I think he’s just trying to buy time before he can rape me. Then people want to talk shit and be insensitive about rape like we’re talking about someone breaking your windscreen – a whole human life being treated like some fuck thing from a bin?

I am angry, I’m angry and bitter as fuck! And whenever a dude is trying to talk to me about MY body and what to do with MY self?! As if it is not my very existence the reason that I’m being raped – not that I was drunk out of my mind and wearing tight clothes.

Several months ago I woke up early on a Saturday morning to attend the inter-house sports day at my little sister’s school. As a woman person in her life, i.e. her older sister, it is my biological role to be supportive of her efforts in whatever she does. At 6am, we packed our edibles, camp chairs and all that school cheer spirit!

As we approached the school, I noticed something strange… several men were in attendance. Perhaps they were driving the kids with their female relatives to the school – we all know that women can’t drive.

It’s a miracle my own mother got us there alive, 7 km of pure adrenaline

Will we die?

Will this woman conquer a skill her gender has been failing at for centuries?

Anyway, we did survive the ride. So as we enter the school premise, there are more men. Sitting in their camp chairs. Looking like they might actually be here to watch their children play sport.

These men were behaving like… dare I say it… like women.

What on earth was going on?

My first question was obvious: If these men are sitting on their bums all morning watching their kids play sport, who is out in the bush hunting for today’s lunch?

Did they leave the women at home, slaughtering and skinning beasts on their own?

What kind of parallel world was I in?

Second question was: How careless must a woman be to let her children go out with this man person who’s only competencies are bringing home the bacon and fertilizing ova. Does he even know how to give hugs? What about dressing wounds, will he know what the child means when she’s crying?

I just think people need to stick to their roles! The world is coming to an end because of men thinking they can be present in their children’s lives!