Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Five Methods of Domination - Master suppression techniques

Instead of looking at who has posted and how it can be seen as an attack on you, read the text, relate to reality and see how it could be said of you, and make the conscious effort of stopping this kind of practice.


The Five Methods of Domination:
Withholding information
Dual punishment
Creating shame and guilt

The following text has been adapted for gender neutrality from the booklet "The Five Methods of Domination" by Berit Aas, (English translation by Lotta Larsson, Daphne Sandberg). Adaptation is © S. Jensen and H.C. Jensen, Södertälje 2005.


**Making people feel invisible**

There is a discussion going on in a long thread. People post their opinion and reactions to others' postings. Then someone joins the discussion. He/she posts what he/she wants to say and waits for the responses. Nothing happens.

People continue discussing the matter as if he/she never posted anything. Later someone might refer to the posting, but keeps talking about the person as if he/she was not part of the discussion. The poster feels awkward and starts contemplating what he/she posted. Did he/she say something inappropriate? Or stupid?

Soon he/she wishes he/she had not posted anything at all.

This takes place when people are ignored or passed by.

It is a reminder to people that their opinions are unimportant and do not count as much as other people's opinions.

**Ridiculing / belittling**

Someone posts something.

He/she happens to use words or say something that can be turned into a joke -- like "rotating testies". People start joking about the testies and LOL a lot.

He/she tries again, but is once more stopped by jokes and laughter. He/she becomes upset and complains, and people defend themselves by belittling the offended person.

"That time of the month, is it?"
"It was just a joke. Don't you have a sense of humour?"
"Loosen up, don't take yourself so seriously!"

Some ways of belittling people and making them feel stupid is to say "I don't have time with this", "I cannot be bothered with this", "This is irrelevant, uninteresting, childish, stupid…" or "I don't have patience with you".

Ridiculing/belittling takes place when people's efforts and accomplishments are mocked and laughed at. It also occurs when people are compared to animals, like chicken, dogs or pigs.

Other examples are when people are said to be too sensitive or when their feelings and actions are characterised as typical for their gender/group/political affiliation/sexual orientation.

**Withholding information**

The discussions touch the same issue in several groups at the same time. Some of the groups might be closed. Some of the discussions are held in private, via e-mails, messaging, or chats. Most internet debate forums are international sites, so people participating are from many different time zones. Some people have to go to work, take care of family, are too tired or sick to stay in the discussion. Next time the issue is discussed, people who were privileged to get the information the first time, will say things like "you weren't there, so you have no right to say anything".

Another form of using the lack of information to dominate others is to disqualify a person simply because he/she does not have certain experience. "You are too young to understand", "if men had periods", "I have an academic education, you don't" or "easy for you to say, you are not a parent".

Withholding information takes place when people do not receive the same opportunity to take part of information.

One can also argue that withholding information takes place when people's work and accomplishments are ignored and not validated.

**Dual punishment**

In a group, people agree that personal matters should be dealt with in private, and not in public. Later something happens and a person has something personal to say to another person. He/she then writes a private note, as agreed, and next thing that happens is that the other person goes public with it, accusing the first person of harassing him/her with the "offensive" note.

Another situation is that a person complains about why everyone makes assumptions, and never asks. Next time something happens, another person asks for an explanation. He/she gets the answer "If you don't understand, it's no idea to try to explain, you wouldn't understand anyway."

Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

One example is when people are blamed for not taking care of something the society sees as their responsibility, and they are accused of the consequences of that, but at the same time they are accused of not taking part of the rest of the society as well.

**Creating shame and guilt**

Somebody suggests a different method of dealing with things. Someone misunderstands and reacts on the misunderstanding, accusing the person of trying to change the subject, taking attention from "important issues" -- or talking about how the person him/herself is not doing what is suggested. The person, who suggested the new method starts defending him/herself, trying to explain, but is interrupted with someone telling him/her that it doesn't matter, it isn't interesting, one couldn't be bothered with it or one doesn't have time with this kind of crap. The person feels foolish. It was probably a stupid suggestion.

Guilt and shame are induced through double punishment and belittling. People are told that their ideas and suggestions are not good enough. The reason the other people oppose people's ideas might be that:
- People think and do things differently
- People do not have access to information controlled by other people.


These are the Five Methods of Domination. Our hope is that this knowledge will be enough to eliminate them. The methods of domination have fewer ramifications when you understand and recognize them.

Härskartekniker, motstrategier och främjartekniker (Master suppression techniques, counter strategies and master confirmation techniques)

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