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Gaslighting – Surely, This Has Happened To You Too

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“Calm down. You’re so sensitive. Where’s your sense of humor? You’re crazy!”

If you’re a woman, in all probability, you’ve heard it before.

Psychologists refer to this as ‘gaslighting’ – silencing techniques used to shut you down after you have addressed someone else’s behavior. In that moment, the speaker is making a judgment about how you should feel.

Gaslighting is when one person systemically confuses the other person into thinking their reactions are crazy, to the point where they actually question their sanity. The term is not very mainstream as it originated from the 1940’s film Gas Light, where a husband manipulates his wife into thinking she is crazy.

While gaslighting is not a universal truth for all women, there are plenty of women who unknowingly encounter it at home, in personal relationships and especially at work.

READ MORE: Over 80 Hours A Week At Work?

Sbusi Dlamini, HR Business Partner for ShowMax in Johannesburg, says gaslighting commonly manifests in the workplace when there is a power imbalance, such as a manager and his/her assistant. It starts with simple acts such as withholding key information like dates or details of a project, lying about instructions given or not providing the necessary support when in a position to do so.

For instance, if a woman raises valid concerns at work, she is considered to be whining or moody. If she is insulted and her feelings are hurt, it’s her fault for not having a sense of humor. In both these scenarios, the woman is to blame and both parties are conditioned into believing that women’s opinions don’t hold as much weight as men’s, and what women have to say and what they feel aren’t as legitimate.

“It is malicious because it plays on your worst fears and desire to be understood,” says Dlamini.

Dlamini points out that gaslighting is not exclusive to submissive, introverted women, but confident, assertive women with power are also vulnerable to it.

“Women are traditionally labeled as too sensitive or over-emotional, so they are more susceptible to gaslighting in various roles and industries.”

An example of this is the infamous ‘Google Memo’ written by a now former Google engineer, James Damore. He wrote that women are not suited for certain jobs because of their genetic make up, and the gender gaps at work are not due to discrimination, but inherent biological differences between men and women.

Such gender stereotypes are harmful to women because spending your days working with a colleague who believes you were born incapable of being good at your job can eventually lead you ask yourself: “What am I doing here?”

READ MORE: We, Men For Women

Dlamini also believes that in addition to gender, race plays a role in the reality of women in corporate Africa.

“People of color, women in particular, are historically taught to be submissive and this undeniably follows them into the workplace. As a result of this, they find themselves submitting to those in power in order to progress, thus allowing abusive behavior,” she says.

Dlamini says the first step in dealing with gaslighters is to detach yourself so you can distinguish between the world of the gaslighter and the real world.

“It’s important to remember that gaslighting only works when you believe what the other person says,” she adds.

In her experience, she advises victims to keep a written record in case they should doubt their memory. Bringing in a third party can also help keep track of what transpires, as well as reporting the case to human resources.

Women deserve the equal, unbiased opportunity to prosper in the workplace without abusive mind games that perpetuate discrimination.

“Once you are aware of it, the hard part is over and you can work to mentally overcome it,” she says.

7 signs you are a victim of gaslighting:

  • You are constantly second-guessing yourself and doubting your capabilities
  • You often feel confused and “crazy” at work
  • You often ask yourself if you’re being too sensitive
  • You are always apologetic or feel you’ve done something wrong
  • You feel your thoughts and ideas are shut down
  • You are indecisive because you don’t trust your own judgment
  • You doubt your own sanity

– Written by Cadine Pillay

Billionaires

Quote Of The Day

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We have grown past the stage of fairy-tale. As women, we have one common front and that is to succeed. We have to take the bull by the horn and make the change happen by ourselves.

– Folorunso Alakija, Billionaire Businesswoman

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Entrepreneurs

From The Arab World To Africa

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Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi; image supplied

In this exclusive interview with FORBES AFRICA, successful Dubai-based Emirati businesswoman, author and artist, Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi, shares some interesting insights on fashion, the future, and feminism in a shared world.

Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi wears many hats, as an artist, architect, author, entrepreneur and philanthropist based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). She currently serves as the CEO of Paris London New York Events & Publishing (PLNY), that includes a magazine and a fashion house.

She runs Velvet Magazine, a luxury lifestyle publication in the Gulf founded in 2010 that showcases the diversity of the region home to several nationalities from around the world.

In this recent FORBES AFRICA interview, Hend, as she would want us to call her, speaks about the future of publishing, investing in intelligent content, and learning to be a part of the disruption around you.

As an entrepreneur too and the designer behind House of Hend, a luxury ready-to-wear line that showcases exquisite abayas, evening gowns and contemporary wear, her designs have been showcased in fashion shows across the world.

The Middle East is known for retail, but not typically, as a fashion hub in the same league as Paris, New York or Milan. Yet, she has changed the narrative of fashion in the region. “I have approached the world of fashion with what the customer wants,” says Hend. In this interview, she also extols African fashion talent and dwells on her own sartorial plans for the African continent.

In September, in Downtown Dubai, she is scheduled to open The Flower Café. Also an artist using creative expression meaningfully, she says it’s important to be “a role model of realism”.

She is also the author of The Black Book of Arabia, described as a collection of true stories from the Arab community offering a real glimpse into the lives of men and women across the Gulf Cooperation Council region.

In this interview, she also expounds on her home, Sharjah, one of the seven emirates in the UAE and the region’s educational hub. “A number of successful entrepreneurs have started in this culturally-rich emirate that’s home to 30 museums,” she concludes. 

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Entertainment

Kim Kardashian West Is Worth $900 Million After Agreeing To Sell A Stake In Her Cosmetics Firm To Coty

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In what will be the second major Kardashian cashout in a year, Kim Kardashian West is selling a 20% stake in her cosmetics company KKW Beauty to beauty giant Coty COTY for $200 million. The deal—announced today—values KKW Beauty at $1 billion, making Kardashian West worth about $900 million, according to Forbes’estimates.

The acquisition, which is set to close in early 2021, will leave Kardashian West the majority owner of KKW Beauty, with an estimated 72% stake in the company, which is known for its color cosmetics like contouring creams and highlighters. Forbes estimates that her mother, Kris Jenner, owns 8% of the business. (Neither Kardashian West nor Kris Jenner have responded to a request for comment about their stakes.) According to Coty, she’ll remain responsible for creative efforts while Coty will focus on expanding product development outside the realm of color cosmetics.

Earlier this year, Kardashian West’s half-sister, Kylie Jenner, also inked a big deal with Coty, when she sold it 51% of her Kylie Cosmetics at a valuation of $1.2 billion. The deal left Jenner with a net worth of just under $900 million. Both Kylie Cosmetics and KKW Beauty are among a number of brands, including Anastasia Beverly Hills, Huda Beauty and Glossier, that have received sky-high valuations thanks to their social-media-friendly marketing. 

“Kim is a true modern-day global icon,” said Coty chairman and CEO Peter Harf in a statement. “This influence, combined with Coty’s leadership and deep expertise in prestige beauty will allow us to achieve the full potential of her brands.”

The deal comes just days after Seed Beauty, which develops, manufactures and ships both KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, won a temporary injunction against KKW Beauty, hoping to prevent it from sharing trade secrets with Coty, which also owns brands like CoverGirl, Sally Hansen and Rimmel. On June 19, Seed filed a lawsuit against KKW Beauty seeking protection of its trade secrets ahead of an expected deal between Coty and KKW Beauty. The temporary order, granted on June 26, lasts until August 21 and forbids KKW Beauty from disclosing details related to the Seed-KKW relationship, including “the terms of those agreements, information about license use, marketing obligations, product launch and distribution, revenue sharing, intellectual property ownership, specifications, ingredients, formulas, plans and other information about Seed products.”

Coty has struggled in recent years, with Wall Street insisting it routinely overpays for acquisitions and has failed to keep up with contemporary beauty trends. The coronavirus pandemic has also hit the 116-year-old company hard. Since the beginning of the year, Coty’s stock price has fallen nearly 60%. The company, which had $8.6 billion in revenues in the year through June 2019, now sports a $3.3 billion market capitalization. By striking deals with companies like KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, Coty is hoping to refresh its image and appeal to younger consumers.

Kardashian West founded KKW Beauty in 2017, after successfully collaborating with Kylie Cosmetics on a set of lip kits. Like her half-sister, Kardashian West first launched online only, but later moved into Ulta stores in October 2019, helping her generate estimated revenues of $100 million last year. KKW Beauty is one of several business ventures for Kardashian West: She continues to appear on her family’s reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, sells her own line of shapewear called Skims and promotes her mobile game, Kim Kardashian Hollywood. Her husband, Kanye West, recently announced a deal to sell a line of his Yeezy apparel in Gap stores.

“This is fun for me. Now I’m coming up with Kimojis and the app and all these other ideas,” Kardashian West told Forbesof her various business ventures in 2016. “I don’t see myself stopping.”

Madeline Berg, Forbes Staff, Hollywood & Entertainment

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