How Gaslighting Is Killing Women

The #MeToo movement and Supreme Court confirmation process of alleged sexual abuser Brett Kavanaugh have ignited crucial dialogue around the importance of believing women. But the adage “believe women” isn’t just about sexual assault: It’s about women’s condition, experiences, and the broad subversion of our voices within the patriarchy.

From the migraine epidemic that disproportionately affects women, to the correlation between anti-abortion laws and rising U.S. maternal death rates; from mounting advocacy for men accused of sexual violence, to the persistence of the gender wage gap, women’s everyday experiences—and demands that we “prove” these experiences—have shown us the gendered nature of credibility.

In The Gaslit Diaries, my newly released book with Thought Catalog, I explore the trivialization and dismissal of women and our experiences and the wide range of issues that disproportionately affect us. In a series of 12 essays, The Gaslit Diaries identifies the cynicism young feminists often face when we express our opinions for what it really is: gaslighting. And this gaslighting does more than poison our dialogues — it often places women in life-or-death danger.

Women — and disproportionately women of color, low-income women, and LGBTQ people — often face grave threats to their health and safety through targeted gaslighting in the healthcare system. In this excerpted essay from the book, I explore some of the consequences of our refusal to believe women when they say they’re in pain.

“PROVE IT”: Migraines, Birth Control, And the Abortion Rape Exception

In February 2018, Vogue told a story of Serena Williams that few had heard before—a story few had heard, but far too many women of color have lived.

Williams recalled a string of near life-threatening complications after giving birth to her first child, daughter Alexis Olympia, in 2017. Specifically, after having a Cesarean section, Williams struggled with embolisms, blood clots and a rupture in her C-section wound that had made it difficult to breathe. She would wind up having multiple surgeries to save her life, before eventually returning home and being put on six-weeks bedrest. But part of the reason that what had started with Williams feeling short of breath after giving birth quickly spiraled into such a dangerous situation had been the lack of proper care Williams received after she had first reported her pain and discomfort to her nurse.

As per the Vogue feature, it went down like this:

“[Williams] walked out of the hospital room so her mother wouldn’t worry and told the nearest nurse, between gasps, that she needed a CT scan with contrast and IV heparin (a blood thinner) right away. The nurse thought her pain medicine might be making her confused. But Serena insisted, and soon enough a doctor was performing an ultrasound of her legs. ‘I was like, a Doppler? I told you, I need a CT scan and a heparin drip,’ she remembers telling the team. The ultrasound revealed nothing, so they sent her for the CT, and sure enough, several small blood clots had settled in her lungs. Minutes later she was on the drip. ‘I was like, listen to Dr. Williams!’”

Despite how Williams had had a history with life-threatening embolisms and specifically underwent surgery for this in 2011, when she initially reported her experiences post-birth, she was met with disbelief—disbelief that may have put her life in danger, and delayed her receiving crucial care.

Even as a wealthy, high-profile black woman, due to persistent racial bias in health care, the act of giving birth had almost killed her.

Black women are 243 percent more likely than white women to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes in the United States, a country that already has the highest maternal mortality rate in the industrialized world, with an average of 26.4 deaths per 100,000 live births. That number increases to 44 per 100,000 for black women and shrinks to 13 for white women, and 14 for women of other races, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to researchers, 50,000 women in America face life-threatening pregnancy-related complications annually, and black women are three to four times more likely than white women to die from these complications.

Of course, there are many factors that contribute to the United States’ outlandishly high maternal mortality rate, and one of those is the mounting trend of oppressive, medically unnecessary abortion restrictions that have swept across the country in recent years. Between 2011 and 2016, about 27 percent of all roughly 1,200 abortion restrictions enacted since Roe v. Wade (1973) was passed. In states where there are more restrictions on abortion, such as South Carolina, in particular, women are substantially more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes.

In 2015, South Carolina’s maternal mortality rate increased by 300 percent, after lawmakers in the state and then-Gov. Nikki Haley signed off on several of the most extreme abortion laws in the country, including “restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion, limits on which healthcare professionals can perform abortions, mandatory counseling on fetal pain and development, and requirements on the time frame within which abortion can be performed,” according to a 2017 report by the Center for Reproductive Rights. The next year, Haley signed a law banning abortion at 20-weeks, despite how fewer than 10 percent of all abortions take place after the first trimester, and in these rare situations, the pregnancy is often unviable or unsafe. In other words, anti-abortion restrictions constitute a massive public health issue.

Additionally, abortion restrictions and their indisputable relationship with maternal death are, in many ways, an economic issue, especially in light of a federal law (the Hyde amendment) that prohibits federal funding from paying for elective abortion, and laws in 32 states that restrict insurance coverage of abortion. And the economic implications of this issue are far from race-neutral.

One particularly draconian example of this exists in the Trump administration’s policy of imprisoning pregnant undocumented minors who seek elective abortions, or even abortion for pregnancy that is the result of rape. Between 60 and 80 percent of Central American migrant women and girls who cross the U.S. border experience sexual assault, and in 2018, border patrol officers reported the prevalence of minors as young as 12-years-old being put on birth control pills before traveling across the border in anticipation of rape.

The militarization of the border, actively supported by the Trump administration, is a key factor in why sexual assault is so prevalent for migrant women and girls at the border and en route to it. In either case, despite repeatedly losing lawsuits regarding its treatment of migrant women and girls seeking abortion, Trump’s Office of Refugee Resettlement has persisted in its behavior. In courts, the Justice Department has repeatedly claimed non-citizens do not share the same rights as citizens, nor are they entitled to human rights, to justify its cruelty.

In the summer of 2018, in the weeks following President Trump’s executive order to end his family separation policy and replace it with one of indefinite incarceration for migrant families, several migrant women filed a lawsuit alleging grave abuse, and claims that being denied medical care and shackled at the stomach while pregnant had induced miscarriages and endangered their lives. These atrocities were notably committed at the behest of a “pro-life” administration.

The aforementioned policies specifically affect immigrant women and girls, but other women of color face explicitly racist laws around abortion and reproductive health, too. Women’s state prison populations in America grew 834 percent over nearly 40 years since 1978, which is more than double the pace of growth among male prison populations, and women of color comprise a majority of incarcerated women. Incarcerated pregnant women are vulnerable to face the same radically inhumane conditions of detained pregnant migrant women and girls.

But even among non-incarcerated women of color, horror stories of poverty and racial bias in health care abound on a life-threatening level.

Women as a whole are 35 percent more likely than men to live in poverty, according to a report by the National Women’s Law Center from 2015. But compared to 9.6 percent of white women, 23.1 and 22.7 percent of black and Latinx women, respectively, live in poverty. In 2013, researchers found black women were substantially more likely than white women to be uninsured.

In other words, the disparity in resources along racial lines is, without a doubt, a key threat to the living standards of women of color, particularly in the realm of pregnancy and childbirth. Even today—or perhaps, especially today—it’s worth remembering that a decisive majority of the women of pre-Roe v. Wade America who had unsafe, sometimes fatal abortions were immigrants and women of color, and speaking more broadly, low-income women who couldn’t afford the costs to travel to have safe abortions in the states where it was legal. In the 1960s, between 200,000 and 1.2 million unsafe abortions took place in the U.S. every year, according to Guttmacher Institute, and thousands of women died as a result of this. And as of 2018, in light of modern, severe threats to Roe with a conservative-majority Supreme Court, judicial system stacked with anti-choice judges, and state legislatures brimming with radically repressive abortion bills, this history feels all the more relevant.

In either case, as Serena Williams’ experiences indicate, the disparity in pregnancy and birth conditions between white women and women of color exists even for wealthy and influential women of color. And that’s because the underlying racial biases in health care aren’t always contingent on one’s economic situation.

SYSTEMIC OPPRESSION IS unfailingly intersectional, but it’s critical to understand the gender biases that exist in our health care system before we can fully understand the experiences of women of color. The dismissal and trivialization of women’s pain where health care is concerned are an unspoken truth women live with every day. Stereotyping women as inherently weaker and more sensitive than men mean that our complaints of pain and discomfort, and our fears about our health and wellbeing, are treated with a too-often fatal grain of salt by doctors.

It wasn’t until the latter part of the 20th century that women were even allowed to go to doctor’s appointments without the presence of a male guardian, and the presumption that women still cannot credibly speak for ourselves, or be trusted to accurately represent our own condition and experiences, persists to this day.

These presumptions exist foremost in how we’re often asked to prove our pain in ways that we simply can’t, or are gaslit by our doctors into believing that what we’re experiencing is normal. The burden of proof placed on women seeking care is inextricably bound to the popular narrative that women and girls make up their experiences “for attention” in a patriarchal society. It’s a narrative that, among other things, has helped yield devastatingly high rates of non-reporting in cases of sexual violence against women, who fear coming forward and being accused of telling lies “for attention.” Additionally, despite perceptions of women as weak, women are substantially more likely to endure severe threats to our physical and mental health, and endure these conditions without complaint because of the internalized perception that our experience is not severe enough to come forward and seek care.

The reasons women suffer physical ailments, from the often quite literally nauseating side effects of hormonal birth control, to the gendered epidemic of migraines, in silence, are similar to the reasons that anywhere from 62 to 84 percent of all sexual assaults are unreported. Women are painfully aware of the culture of misogyny we live in—a culture that routinely humiliates and endangers us by neglecting to take our pain seriously, or believe us when we say that we’re in pain.

One stark example of this is the disproportionate prevalence of migraines among women. This is, in part, biological. But this epidemic is also so vast and widely untreated because of systemic gaslighting of women and girls by doctors, as well as a culture that trivializes and erases our pain. I don’t have a single female friend who doesn’t carry Advil or Tylenol in her purse, not just because of menstrual cramps, but also in no small part due to recurring headaches: headaches that we’re expected to weather without complaint, and regard as normal. It’s not uncommon for older women to advise young women to describe severe abdominal cramps to their doctors as the feeling of being stabbed, just to be taken seriously.

But women who do have the audacity to question their living conditions and demand health and comfort often face skepticism and dismissal. Thirty-six million Americans, including 18 percent of all adult women, regularly experience migraines—and this stat only includes women who actually report experiencing migraines. Despite these numbers, as of 2018, there’s still no real, long-term cure for migraines, and this reality can’t be divorced from the stereotype that women are weak, overly sensitive, and exaggerate our experiences.

The trivialization of women’s pain often results in general disadvantage: in our schooling, our careers, our ability to publicly participate in society. The constraints on women’s ability to care for ourselves and lead healthy lives means missing class or work—and the loss of income that comes with jobs that don’t offer paid time off—due to severe migraines, menstrual cramping, or nausea from birth control, all of which are experiences that men are less likely to or don’t suffer from at all. For former Republican presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann, who famously suffered from recurring migraines, it meant disadvantage against her male rivals who didn’t have to take time off to recover and rest from migraines.

Another stark reality that is inextricably bound to expectations for women to prove our pain is the gendered double standard in the living standards that men and women are allowed to ask for in the patriarchy.

Amid ongoing attacks on women’s right to access birth control without facing discrimination from pharmacists, insurers, and employers, the past few years have been peppered with developments and advancements in male hormonal birth control. While I can’t quite delve into the mechanics of the EP055 compound and how it functions to demobilize sperm, what I can and will delve into is the long, often ironically sexist history of birth control. As a disclaimer, I fully support women’s right to choose hormonal birth control pills—God only knows how many women have been empowered to live meaningful, autonomous lives through the ability to dodge unwanted pregnancy and be healthy. But what I will say is that we should never forget female birth control’s inception, and how it compares with dramatically more humane modern experiments to create a male birth control.

The first female birth control was tested on human women: Puerto Rican women and women with disabilities, specifically. In contrast, for the past few years, male birth control experiments have almost exclusively been conducted on male monkeys, with the exception of a 2016 World Health Organization study that eventually went to trial on male subjects after extensive testing. However, Stage II of the experiment was almost immediately canceled due to “safety reasons” after an independent review panel determined the hormonal injection for men had too many side effects—namely, the side effects prevalent in most female birth control methods, such as nausea, depression, mood instability, effects on libido, acne, and others. At the time, NPR reported that the majority of the trial’s 320 male subjects dropped out, claiming to be unable to withstand the side effects that millions of women around the world experience every day.

The allocation of burden and responsibility in preventing pregnancy has always been sexist in and of itself due to the expectation that women alone should be the ones to shoulder the physical discomfort of birth control side effects to prevent pregnancy. It’s emblematic of who in society is allowed to ask for more—and who isn’t.

As of 2018, researchers in the United States have already developed symptom-less male birth control; varying versions of this product are already on the market—and cheap, at just $10 a pop—in India. And yet, because of the long tradition of women exclusively being responsible for preventing pregnancy, male birth control may never go to market in the U.S., simply because experts predict investors in the pharmaceutical industry will always simply assume there is no interest in male birth control. In 2018, an all-female team of researchers at the University of Minnesota said obtaining funding for their research of male birth control was often a struggle, “because the drug industry already has effective options for women, [so] it’s underestimated interest in a pill for men.”

Simply put, women who suffer from side effects from their birth control should not have to carry this burden—especially when long-term, reliable and symptom-free options exist for men to prevent pregnancy. We shouldn’t have to accept nausea, mood swings and general discomfort and physical and mental instability as an everyday norm. We shouldn’t have to choose between preventing pregnancy in order to meet professional and academic goals, and our comfort. And we shouldn’t be placed in a position where our wellness is reduced to collateral damage, just so we can have safe, healthy sex and participate in society.

There’s a different burden of proof for men and women’s pain. As the aforementioned birth control experiments demonstrate, men and women can quite literally face the same conditions—but only men’s experiences will be acknowledged and taken seriously. And the consequences of this double standard, throughout history and today, have been devastating.

FOR WOMEN OF COLOR, there are a couple of crucial caveats to all of this.

In the United States and all western societies, there is a long history of selectively caring about rape and violence against women if and only if it applies to white women, and perpetuates stereotypes about black and brown men as violent, bestial and dangerous. In Donald Trump’s 2015 speech announcing his presidential candidacy, he called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and murderers and repeatedly used alleged sexual violence committed by immigrant men as a talking point. Within two years, he would impose a policy of keeping detained, pregnant migrant rape victims incarcerated for seeking abortion care as president.

There’s a message here beyond surface-level, run-of-the-mill racism and nativism. The stereotype of fragile, delicate white femininity and the notion that this must be protected at all costs perhaps impacts who is perceived as needing and deserving of better care, and whose health scares are treated with more urgency. In contrast, dehumanizing tropes comparing black women to apes, and portrayals of them as inherently more “masculine” than their white women counterparts, could also play a role in black women’s disparate experiences with pregnancy-related health risks and maternal death. The jarring disparities in maternal deaths and life-threatening pregnancy complications affecting women of color make clear the extent to which racial bias has infected our healthcare system, and in the U.S., women of color are suffering the consequences of this en masse.

Women of color face another grave threat to their safety and rights when it comes to pregnancy: the risk of being punished for the outcome of their pregnancy. Especially in light of the story of a woman who miscarried being denied medication abortion by a Walgreens pharmacist on the grounds of “religious freedom” in the summer of 2018, we know miscarriage and abortion are conflated all too often, especially because anti-abortion politicians and groups are often staunchly anti-science, too. The story of Purvi Patel, an Indiana woman who was jailed for almost a full year due to the outcome of her pregnancy, offers a harrowing glimpse of what women could face as a consequence for miscarrying or attempting to terminate a pregnancy.

In 2013, Patel checked herself into a hospital seeking help for uninterrupted bleeding, saying she had given birth to a stillborn fetus. When doctors noticed the size of her umbilical cord, they became suspicious the fetus had actually been born alive, and eventually found its discarded remains in a dumpster where Patel confessed to having discarded them.

She would wind up being arrested and charged with two contradictory charges: fetal homicide, and neglect of a child. The charges were puzzling because neglecting a child means that you neglected a live child, while feticide means that the baby was born dead. A jury managed to find her guilty of both.

The basis of the child neglect charge had been a widely discredited “lung float test” which prosecutors used to determine that her fetus had been able to breathe and was 25 to 30 weeks along—a far cry from the 23 to 24 weeks that Patel’s lawyers had proven by demonstrating the fetus’ lungs were not sufficiently developed to breathe. The results of the lung float test suggested the baby had been alive, and “killed” by Patel’s neglect. Meanwhile, the basis of the feticide charge had been text messages obtained by police in which Patel seemed to discuss buying abortifacient to attempt to terminate the pregnancy, but no trace of the drug had even been found in her blood work.

The following year, three judges on an appeals court exonerated Patel, but the incident nevertheless reflects the serious threat posed by abortion opponents’ inability to draw substantive, science-based and consistent lines around what constitutes life. The state feticide law that the prosecution had used to put Patel behind bars was not meant to punish women who have self-managed abortions, but rather, people—namely domestic abusers—who commit violent acts against pregnant women. In the same vein, the state’s use of the pseudoscience lung float test to “prove” the fetus had actually been a live baby shows how false science is often dangerously used to humanize fetuses, dehumanize pregnant women by exposing them to the possibility of criminal charges for the outcomes of their pregnancies, and jeopardize women’s health and wellness.

We may never really, fully know what happened to Patel’s pregnancy; her text messages and actual examinations of her physical condition tell different stories. But that’s neither here nor there. What we do know is that Patel lived with conservative, pro-abstinence parents and her hesitation to divulge a complete account of her experiences likely came from a place of deep fear about her safety.

For years, stereotypes of Asian women as likely to abort or commit feticide or infanticide on the basis of the fetus’ gender have yielded racist, innocuous state laws across the country (for example, laws that ban abortion on the basis of the fetus’ gender or race). And in addition to pervasive, systemic discrimination that renders women of color more likely than white women to be charged with crimes or incarcerated in general, the stereotype of the “baby-killing” Asian woman poses a unique danger for those who become pregnant, and either experience complications or seek to terminate the pregnancy.

Before Patel, there was another Asian-American Indiana woman who faced more than a year in jail for miscarrying after a failed suicide attempt while she had been pregnant. In 2011, after being impregnated by a man who was not her husband, Bei Bei Shuai, a Chinese immigrant, attempted to take her own life by consuming rat poison. She survived, but her 33-week-old fetus did not, and required a Caesarian section to be removed. She faced similar feticide charges, as well as a murder charge, and was jailed for 435 days before the Indiana Supreme Court cleared the charges against her.

Varying versions of the stories of Patel and Shuai exist in states across the country with more repressive cultures around abortion. They reflect a reality of women, and disproportionately women of color, being doubly punished for their pain and trauma, and, in so many words, told that unviable, miscarried fetuses are more valuable than they are, and have more rights and legal protection than they do as living women. The fight for bodily autonomy for women did not end with Roe v. Wade, and it’s the very notion this is the case that’s allowed incidents like the incarceration of Patel and Shuai to arise. Roe v. Wade was not the end of criminalized abortion, and if we allow ourselves to be gaslit into believing this, to be lulled into a false sense of security, stories like this will continue to unfold under our nose.

The bodies and wellbeing of women of color remain not only disproportionately neglected but also disproportionately policed within our health care and legal systems. And the direct results of this include vastly disproportionate maternal and pregnancy-related death rates for women of color, and a dangerous, draconian application of laws that were created with the intention of protecting pregnant women.

WOMEN—and especially low-income women, women of color, and immigrant women—are marginalized within the American health care system through its routine dismissal of their pain. And the biases, misogyny, and racism that are costing women across the country their lives exist everywhere—especially in politics. Certainly, these attitudes are more prevalent among the white Republican men who have devoted their political careers fighting for nearly every restriction on abortion access you could name. But watered down anti-women biases also exist even within those liberal and progressive spaces.

In 2018, just months before midterm elections, I had the pleasure of speaking with the founders of the American Women’s Party for a feature I was writing. One particularly enlightening moment of our conversation tackled progressive men and how the exclusion of women even from progressive spaces and discussions hurts women, too. According to the American Women’s Party, without women in the room, our rights and experiences remain an afterthought at best. “It’s always, ‘Well, let’s worry about health care and we’ll include reproductive rights after’ … This idea that they [male lawmakers] were ever going to consider us or put our issues on the same playing field hasn’t worked, even for the more compassionate male legislators,” Maya Contreras, one founder of the organization, said. “We have seen unequivocally that if you don’t have those women in the room, or making those policy decisions, they’ll just be left out.”

One well-known example of this exists in the internal war among Democrats that saw proactive measures to protect and expand abortion access ultimately removed from the writing of the Affordable Care Act. But this wasn’t just one isolated episode or an anomaly of some sort. Think about progressive icon Sen. Bernie Sanders’ embrace of tuition-free public college, and question why universal child care and similar measures that address traditionally feminine experiences remain excluded from mainstream progressive dialogues and widely regarded as fringe.

In recent years, under the Trump administration and a Republican-majority Congress, we have seen an escalation in preexisting conditions being used to disproportionately attack women and relegate womanhood itself to a preexisting condition, with disastrous consequences for rape survivors in particular. Pregnancy, being a mother, having had an abortion, and, yes, surviving sexual assault and domestic violence, could all be used as grounds for insurance providers to raise premiums or turn women away altogether.

Defending protections for people with preexisting conditions has long been a talking point of Democrats, but one that seldom goes so far as to recognize Republican policies as direct attacks on womanhood. As Slate’s Christina Cauterucci put it in 2018, the culmination of the GOP’s attacks on affordable health care and reproductive rights reflect “a medical framework that [treats] women’s bodies as inherently sick, aberrations from the norm”—a medical framework of abject, misogyny-fueled cruelty.

And the punishment of rape survivors in politics and medicine is as egregious as it is pervasive. Senate Republicans’ rejection of renewing the Violence Against Women Act in 2013, and the devastating consequences that dismantling the VAWA would have had for women of color, Native American women, LGBTQ people and other marginalized identities disproportionately affected by sexual violence, couldn’t be understated. Luckily, of course, VAWA lived. But rape survivors continue to encounter systemic gaslighting and abuse in health care through restrictions on abortion that exist across the country.

Many of the most extreme bills and laws to restrict or explicitly ban abortion offer exceptions for women whose pregnancies threaten their lives, are unviable, or are the result of rape. This last item is known as the rape exception.

Of course, due to their extreme nature, many of these bills fail to be enacted. But that said, women who live in the (as of 2018) 17 states with 20-week abortion bans and the 32 states that prohibit insurance coverage of abortions except in cases of rape, and whose pregnancies are among the 25,000 per year in the U.S. that are the result of rape, are severely affected by the rape exception and its cruelty nonetheless.

Let’s be clear: The rape exception is not about helping women, whose right to reproductive freedom should not be contingent on how they became pregnant, nor whether they are able to successfully prove to law enforcement, doctors, or anyone else that they were sexually abused. The rape exception is self-serving propaganda for anti-choice, anti-women politicians, and the complete and utter gaslighting of women and survivors. It’s about manipulating the optics of abortion policy to make abortion bans appear more humane and digestible to mainstream audiences, all while sending the toxic and false message that rape can easily be proven, that anyone who is impregnated by rape could easily come forward, say they were raped, and receive appropriate care, simple as that.

Of course, the reality is that women and survivors who come forward about being sexually assaulted comprise a distinctly small minority. Among the many reasons survivors choose not to come forward, which include choosing to heal and move on privately on their own terms (an option the rape exception would deprive them of) is fear of intimidation, disbelief, and being shamed or blamed. When we require women to sacrifice their privacy and comfort and potentially force them to relive a traumatic experience just to access health care like abortion, we deny them autonomy in their recovery process, and certainly strip them of bodily autonomy, too, by making theirs conditional.

If anything, the rape exception arguably makes things worse for women by repressing our rights and threatening our safety, all while allowing anti-choice politicians to humanize their agenda within the mainstream, and affirm a false narrative about what survivors of sexual assault face in coming forward.

According to the most recent polling, an estimated 16 percent of Americans believe abortion should be illegal without any exception, even for rape. During GOP Congressman Todd Akin’s race for U.S. Senate in 2012, Akin dismissed the possibility of pregnancy by rape by citing religious pseudoscience about how “legitimate rape” cannot result in pregnancy, and therefore, abortion should not be legal in any circumstances. Views like his and the other 16 percent of Americans who unilaterally believe abortion should be illegal are appalling. But don’t allow any GOP lawmaker, as they desperately peddle out bill after bill to restrict or ban abortions except in cases of rape, to gaslight you into believing that they or their laws are somehow any less appalling.

The rape exception is not a good thing. It does not make bans on abortion safer or less cruel, inhumane, and likely to result in women being subjected to unsafe abortions; it’s not a compromise. That’s because there is no compromise on abortion; nothing keeps women—and sexual assault survivors—safe except a full, unconditional range of safe, legal health care options.

The phenomenon of women being forced to prove their pain for health care in ways that men are not is inseparable from the rape exception and its devastating consequences. Reproductive rights and violence against women are interconnected, inseparable issues. Erasing or dismissing women’s pain and health struggles, banning abortion and birth control access, and committing sexual assault are all extreme acts of violence on women’s bodies that disregard our consent and safety.

The Gaslit Diaries further explores the dangerous politics and gaslighting that underlie women’s everyday experiences in the patriarchy. The book is available now. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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