1. Making Invisible

Making women invisible

This wordless method of dominance is used when people (for "people" read men) do not listen to what you have to say, when they start looking trough their papers, talking to one another, or excuse themselves and visit the lavatory. We women often raise issues which are different from those raised by men because we live under different conditions. Men fail to recognise women's description of the situation and choose not to listen or get involved. There are innumerable examples of women who have had to listen to the question "Are you sitting here all on your own, girls?

Being made invisible is a devastating method of dominance. A person who is not seen or listened to feels diminished and unimportant and may well choose not to continue their involvement in working for change.

Act as follows:

  • Make it clear that you are aware of the method being used and that you refuse to accept it.
  • Demand attention and demand that all others listen! One good way of doing this is to pause till all the shuffling of papers and murmuring has stopped.
  • If they do not understand you, use the same technique on a man the next time round. Be very clear about what you are doing in order to make your point with the others.
  • Train your voice. A distinct and clear voice is not easily ignored.

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2. Ridiculing

Making Women ridiculous/Belittling women

This particular technique is well known because of its refinement in being funny at the expense of women. The whole point of the exercise is to denigrate women and the efforts of women. This particular method of dominance contains a wide range of demeaning statements about amusing little blondes and hysterical old wives. Further examples are unnecessary.

Act as follows:

  • Make it very clear that you refuse to accept such treatment.
  • Answer in the same way. Never laugh along with the macho jokes. Especially not when the jokes is at the expense of another woman. Be responsible for one another.
  • Stare whit a look of sheer amazement in your eyes at the perpetuator of the demeaning joke. Do everything to create an embarrassing silence. Turn to another woman and ask pointedly "What on earth is he trying to say?"

3. Withholding information

Withholding information

By withholding information, people can be very effectively kept in the dark. This happens to women quit often. I the sauna room or changing rooms the boys make deals, consciously or unconsciously. What happens at the following meeting - when the women are present - is that decisions are quickly ratified. The women aren't given a chance to discuss what the boys have already decided on in a smaller group. The boys never can understand why the women must always nag and lengthen the meetings, why the women just can not manage to be that little bit more "decision-potent".

Act as follows:

  • Demand extensive background information to the decision-making.
  • Demand that important issues that require more preparatory study be postponed till the next meeting.
  • Ensure that you get the information you need by other means, such as your own contact net.
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4. "Damned if you do and damned if you don't!"

Double punishment!

No matter how hard you try, things often go wrong! This, in a nutshell, is the method of dominance known as double punishment. Women often suffer from a bad conscience about everything. They should almost always be somewhere else. At work, with the kids or with their husbands. The stress of this is insufferable. Worst of all is the feeling of not being good enough. Women are accused, often indirectly, by those surrounding them, of failing to be worthwhile mums especially when they get involved in their jobs or in politics. At the same time they have to put up with criticism for a lack of involvement when they choose to put their home lives or families first. When they choose both they face dissatisfaction on all sides.

Women want nothing better than to be able to combine family life with working life and they have every right to say "No" both in the home and at work! Men, unlike women, seldom face this sort of double punishment. They find it more that often a matter of course that they can say "Yes" and "No" in the home! This situation is both unacceptable and unfair. Women must have the same rights as men to a decent working life and family life.

Act as follows:

  • Choose your husband with extreme care.
  • Choose your boss with extreme care.
  • Demand of your boss that he/she accepts a No - or a Yes - without the usual punishment in the form of no promotion.
  • Draw up "an agreement" with your husband or partner giving you the right to work politically.

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5. Heaping Blame and Putting to Shame

5. Burdening with guilt and shame

This particular method of dominance is the most confusing of them all. Women who are the victims of humiliating treatment or abuse of some kind develop a sense of guilt for what has happened.

It is often said that "she" only has herself to blame for herself or her behaviour. "She" more or less asked for it!

This sort of judgement often leads to women believing that the critics are right. It's probably all my own fault. I have only myself to blame. This sort of thinking leads many women to blame themselves for what has happened regardless of whether it can be justified or not. In this case it is important to analyse the situation and form a realistic opinion of what has in fact happened. Above all realise that there is no reason to feel guilty.

Act as follows:

  • Contact a close friend and analyze the situation together.
  • Get your friends to defend you.
  • In other cases make sure you defend other women who are victimized.
  • Get rid of your guilt feelings by trying to form a clear picture of the underlying pattern.
  • Get back at the person who put the blame on you. Show them what actually happened.

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