26 Oct Reversing the Reversed Reality
Coming into the final election stretch—let’s pause to celebrate having survived the debates, halleluiah! I don’t know about you, but I learned SO much. For instance, the last one taught me something about myself: I am such a nasty woman.
Some of the pundits say this election has really been about the public’s hunger for change, that one candidate is old hat because of experience gained during a lifetime in various forms of social activism and public service, and the other candidate—because he’s the opposite—represents change. It got me thinking—not so much about all the flaws in that premise (for instance, I could argue there’s hardly a greater change imaginable than having a woman for the first time in 240 years hold the post to which they both aspire). No, because in another way, an utterly reversed way, this election is all about change: fear of change.
For people unallergic to facts, the scientific research proves that American white men without college degrees who largely hold blue-collar jobs are those most vocal about wanting change—yet those are the same folks most threatened by and terrified of the change swirling around them: globalization, the IT revolution and new technology requiring skills and education they lack, demographic shifts in ethnicity that show this country will no longer be a majority European-American nation soon, and years of social justice activism that have begun to yield such results as the passage of the marriage equality law, greater access to jobs and public places for the disabled, and of course, the advancement and empowerment of women. All of which they perceive (correctly) as imperiling the system of white, straight, male supremacy. That this system has also screwed them up in a class sense seems to bother them less on the blame front, partly because Americans have bought into the myth that ours is a “classless” society, and also because the white straight males running that system have effectively convinced their working-class bros that it’s “nasty women” and “those people” (with differently shaded skins) who are really to blame.
These blue-collar guys who claim they want a “change agent” aren’t hungry for change at all. These guys are hungry for the 12th century—though they’d settle for the 1950s. But that’s just one of many upside down reversals taking place—so it’s no wonder that vertigo has us all reeling with nausea at this point.
There’s the “rigged system” rhetoric. Oh sure, a rigged system victimizing white men—that’s so common, isn’t it? But try unreversing that and you find:
There are rigged systems—ones we’ve been chipping away at steadily for centuries. The rigged system that didn’t allow all Native Americans to vote until 1957; the rigged system that denied suffrage to African Americans until 1868 and then enfranchised only black men; the rigged system that forbade the entire female half of the nation to vote until 1920; that still disenfranchises people convicted of a crime, even after they’ve served their sentence. The rigged system that persists to this day in gerrymandering and in renewed, intensified attempts at voter suppression. The rigged system that defines the only people capable of wielding ultimate power as folks with a lack of melanin pigmentation who are insecure about the size of their penises.
You can employ reverse-the-reversals activism all over this election, in strategies, language, policies, and numerous individual statements.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, in nice-guy contortions, writhing to extricate himself from statements and actions by his presidential candidate, said, “Women are to be championed and revered, not to be objectified.” VERTIGO! Just can’t quite get it right, can you, Paul? Women are long past having to choose between men who attack us physically or verbally and patronizing “defenders” who put us on pedestals so they don’t have to look us in the eye. On the contrary, Paul, women are to be treated with equality and respect. That simple.
Other reversers include those who claim,” Well, I certainly deplore what Trump says, but that’s not what he really means,” or “Well, what he did certainly is dreadful, but that’s not the person he really is.” VERTIGO!
And, sadly, not all the enablers are men. I don’t blame Melania Trump for standing by her husband and choosing to disbelieve the still-growing number of women who have bravely come forward to prove that he’s a man of his sexist words, anymore than I blame Hillary Rodham Clinton for having done the same, decades ago. I was once married (gleefully divorced now for over 20 years) and I defended my then husband’s misdeeds for reasons and in ways that now seem incomprehensible to me. I never went so far as Melania in her indulgence, but that subservience is reflective of the patriarchal Slovenian culture in which she was raised, which for so long was part of an isolated Eastern European bloc of countries mired in the 1950s.
But I do notice the reversed logic deployed in her recent interviews. On her husband having bragged on tape about sexually assaulting women, she laughed, “Boy talk! You know, like teenage boys.” When her interviewer replied that her husband had been age 59 at the time, she smiled, “I know. I often say I have two boys at home, my young son and my husband.” Her son is 10 years old. Now, either she thinks that someone with the mental and emotional age of a teenage boy should hold the key to nuclear armageddon, or she’s sending us one hell of a feminist signal. VERTIGO!
Needing to reverse the reversals isn’t new: survivors of rape, prostitution, pornography, child sexual abuse, and sexual harassment and assault are familiar with it. Fortunately, Jennifer Freyd, a brilliant psychologist, editor of the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, and professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, has given us a valuable tool from her research. It’s an acronym for a devastatingly effective power strategy that’s relevant right now. It’s called DARVO, which stands for Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender. For instance:
“None of this ever took place.” —Deny.
“You are a disgusting human being.” —Attack.
“They’re lying and making up the allegations to hurt me.” —Reverse Victim and Offender.
Such statements as “she made me do it,” “she was asking for it,” “little girls can be sexually provocative,” “then why was she wearing (or drinking) that?” and lots more, all fit into DARVO. Isn’t DARVO helpful? To find out more, go to Dynamic.UOregon.edu, or simply type in DARVO to the search field of your browser and it will pop right up. I bet that you, like me, will discover that you’ve been DARVOed far more than once in your life, winding up blaming yourself for what was actually perpetrated upon you. Gratitude goes to Dr. Jennifer Freyd for giving us this sword and shield with which to protect reality.
One last note—and I’ll keep repeating it through Nov 8: Voters who experience problems or threats on election day, can call 866-OUR-VOTE. It’s a non-partisan hotline staffed by trained volunteers who can answer questions and notify election officials of violations and intimidations.
Not long to go now . . . there’s light at the end of the looooooong election tunnel. Now we have to lock it down and ensure that the light isn’t the oncoming train of the Tangerine Tyrant, but instead is the dawning of a real new day!