February 17, 2022
When does positivity become toxic? When is it appropriate (or not) to give advice? Can depression really be healed without systemic changes? What are some ways that society at large gaslights people? Why do women sometimes not come forward after sexual assault? What is "freeze or faun"? Do men suffer as much under patriarchy as women?
Sasha Raskin is the Founder of A Beautiful Mess (ABM), a mental health organization that runs corporate talks and events to combat loneliness, depression, and mental health stigma, while fostering connection, intimacy, and equality. She founded ABM to be the resource she wished she had when she was struggling the most. You can learn more about her story here. For her mental health work, she has delivered talks for platforms ranging from Venture University to The World Economic Forum's Global Shapers Community; she has been named a Young Social Impact Hero by Thrive Global in partnership with Authority Magazine; and she'll be delivering a TEDx talk shortly titled, "The Other Pandemic: We Must End Mental Health Stigma Now".
Sasha's contact info:
Sasha also asked us to include this in the show notes:
A BEAUTIFUL MESS believes that mental health is a human right and accordingly, no one is turned away from public events for lack of funds. We also offer free resources whenever possible. A lot goes into this work so please consider supporting our mission financially. It is greatly appreciated!
- Venmo: @Sasha-Raskin
- Paypal: email@example.com
- Cash App: $abeautifulmessorg
- Zelle: firstname.lastname@example.org
Additionally, we'd LOVE to collaborate with you and your company. You can reach us / schedule a free consultation call here:
- Calendly: https://calendly.com/sraskin/15min
- E-mail: email@example.com
- Phone: 732.630.5520
- Website: abeautifulmess.org
- Follow Sasha's Writing on Medium: https://blog.usejournal.com/@sashaalexraskin
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/abeautifulmess_org
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sasha-alexandra-raskin-20334813/
JOSH: Hello, and welcome to Clearer Thinking with Spencer Greenberg, the podcast about ideas that matter. I'm Josh Castle, the producer of the podcast, and I'm so glad you've joined us today. In this episode, Spencer speaks with Sasha Raskin about mental wellness and feminism. And they also talked quite a bit about sexual assaults, and the gaslighting that often accompanies sexual assault. Now, we know that those topics may be potentially sensitive or triggering for some people. So if you think that you might be bothered by this conversation, then you may want to skip this episode. And if you choose to listen anyway, we hope that you'll take good care of yourself mentally and emotionally. And please reach out to someone you trust if you need support. And now, here's the conversation between Spencer and Sasha.
SPENCER: Sasha, welcome.
SASHA: Hey, Spencer, happy to be here.
SPENCER: So you have some really interesting and strong critiques, both of the way society is structured and the way that we tend to interact with each other, including our friends and family members. So I'm really shouldn't be digging into those questions with you today. But why don't we start with your work when you tell us a little bit about the work you do?
SASHA: Yeah, absolutely. And you're definitely right. Sure do. So yeah, I run a mental health organization, it's called A Beautiful Mess. The name is for a very particular reason that I believe the most beautiful things about us are being our full, ugly, messy selves, and not just kind of pretending everything is fine all the time, which our social norms often tell us to do. And other organization we run talks and events for corporations, and private groups to combat loneliness, depression, and mental health stigma. And also just increase the sense of camaraderie, kinship, togetherness, emotional IQ, emotional resilience, things like that.
SPENCER: So what caused you to start this organization?
SASHA: Yeah, so I started it, because for most of my life, I was a very high-functioning very high-achieving suicidal depressive. So I started college when I was 16 years old, I went to a top tier university, I graduated with honors, I was an agent in Hollywood, and even briefly ran a tech company. But I was always really, really struggling myself personally. And ironically, most people will probably never know it because I was very, again, high-functioning to the outside world are totally fine. And then, a few years ago, things culminated to where I had a pretty much total breakdown and had to check myself into a psychiatric hospital. And when I did, that's when I really thought that my life was over. There's so much stigma associated with that. And I thought no one will ever want to love me, date me, marry me, or even be my friend. Now I'm officially crazy. I've totally ruined it and any chance of having a decent life. And so I thought that I did want to go live, I had to keep it a secret. And the idea of keeping a secret like that was absolutely awful. And so I decided to go the opposite direction. And I decided to tell everyone and rip the band-aid off really quickly, because I was so scared. So my first night in the hospital, I wrote a note to like 100 people, I guess, Facebook Messenger, and it was like the weirdest group of people might have somewhere friends I've known for like, decades, and others were people I barely knew. And I just kind of said, "Hey, I'm sorry, if you don't want to be receiving this, so feel free to ignore, but like, I've checked myself in. And here's what's going on." And then I just started sharing my story very publicly going forward parties first dates, the response was really phenomenal. A lot of people had very similar stories. And they were beautiful. And it was really incredible to share with them. But they would almost always come with this caveat that please don't tell anyone I've ever told anyone outside of my emergency contacts, or my immediate family, or oftentimes, even immediate family didn't know. And it just really broke my heart, the fact that we live in a world where people don't feel comfortable, or safe sharing this with even the people closest to them. And so I thought I really need to change this. I want to create spaces where it's okay to talk about stuff like this, and not just okay, but welcome. Because this is part of life. And so yeah, that's why it was really critical. And I want to just start this. And we just normalize having discussions from everything from our beautiful joys to sometimes the pain and devastation that can be part of being human.
SPENCER: So I imagine that a lot of people found it really beneficial to hear your story and see that life continued on after you dealt with this great struggle, and it probably normalized a lot of their struggles, too. But I am wondering, did some people have a negative reaction like you feared and if so, how bad was that?
SASHA: Surprisingly, mainly, I didn't get much of negative feedback at all. And I think that's part of what we'll talk about a little later, which is, maybe there was negative feedback, but people were not telling in my face. Mostly people were shockingly cool with it. Either it just wasn't a big deal and they're kind of like whatever or other people were like thank you. And I am so grateful and appreciative and there's a very small risk and small group and chance that are going to be Google, are you going to use that against you. But the thing about that is that they wield a lot more power and ability to use that against you when you keep it a secret, right? And so part of being open is, this is my story. I claim it, it's mine. And nobody gets to by keeping it a secret. Nobody gets to kind of have this power over me like, Oh, I'm going to tell people that you were hospitalized because I think a lot of our pain and suffering it isn't because of things like being hospitalized or going through a traumatic event. It's really how people respond to it, and our fear of being alienated and cast out. And so really owning this and reclaiming my narrative, it was much more empowering than it was anything else.
SPENCER: Now, when people are dealing with something really difficult. I know one thing that tends to really rankled them is like they go to a friend, and I tell them about their scenario. And then the person says, you just have to think positive or tomorrow is the best first day of your life or you know, stuff like this just goes into the phrase toxic positivity. I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.
SASHA: I mean, exactly. This is going to be my total point of so why does this happen? Why is it so difficult to have a discussion? One of my top line answers would be toxic positivity culture, and it's exactly everything you just enumerated is why people don't talk more about their challenges, because when they do, they're often met with such dismissive or cliche or glib or platitudinous responses or, this era of dismissiveness that is so painful that they sort of start to learn over time. And this is really what happened with me when I was trying to get help with my depression, through my immediate surroundings, it was people who were just so quick to brush it aside, cast it aside, not deal with it, that eventually I learned, nobody wants to hear this shit. And I better keep it to myself. And that's really the problem. It's not that I had depression, because if a depression and I was in a supportive understanding environment, it could have been a totally different story is that I was chronically and consistently met with a society that does not want to deal with anything not positive. And that's what we're referring to as this toxic positivity culture. And if I had to point to one of the biggest contributors to how bad my mental health issues, it would be that, surprisingly.
SPENCER: So when you were dealing with those really difficult situations, and you tried to reach out to friends, or talk to people about it, what kind of responses did you get? And sort of what did that do to you?
SASHA: Yeah, it's different now. Because I've either carved out different types of spaces. But historically, it was awful, it was really horrible. It was really a lot of what you just said it was write a gratitude journal. And I should say, also, there's a rule in my in my courses, where we don't give advice and actually find this podcast started with you saying, I have a lot of contrarian ideas or strong opinions and critiques. And one of them is how quickly we go to advice in our culture. And I find it really awful, to be honest. And in my courses actually even asked people how many of you when you share, do you want advice, and almost no hands go up. And I find that especially ironic, because it's one of the go-to's when somebody tells you, they're having a hard time is immediately to jump to advice. And I think part of why I find it so agitating there's this kind of patronizing, because they're making a lot of assumptions. Like, I really, truly tried everything, even at the height of my depression, I was exercising, I was gratitude journaling. I was meditating, you name it, I was doing it. And I was still really depressed. And so a common one was write a gratitude journal, but you're so lucky, think positive. Think of all the good things you have. And you really it just it wears on your soul. And it's almost like it first of all the strength it takes to confine something like that in the first place is a lot. And then when it's met with this wall of just do this, just do that, or stop feeling that way. A part of you, it's like, every time that happens, it sort of is called it just by 1000 cuts. It's like it happens once it happens twice. It happens three times, okay? But it happens over and over and over and over again. And pretty soon what happens is your sense of safety in the world is compromised, your sense of caring of the world gets compromised. And you sort of start to believe like, does anyone care? Does anyone want to know that I'm hurting does it doesn't matter. And when you start to realize or feel that it doesn't, that's when I almost want to call it like depression 2.0 and that's often when we're talking about depression, I think that we're not talking about depression 1.0, which is the depression itself, we're talking about depression 2.0, which is that people have been trying to get help, and help, they've been getting so bad that their depression starts to really spiral.
SPENCER: So I'm not sure whether you experienced this or not. But talking to people with had severe depression, I think another challenge I often face is that, if they let their feelings show too much friends will they be tolerate that to a certain degree, but then they might feel like the friends start to feel overwhelmed or like, start getting annoyed that they're downer. And then so then they start feeling like, oh, it's not okay to show how you're feeling? Or like, you're gonna lose your friendship because you're feeling depressed. And so you never need to pretend to be positive or something like that.
SASHA: Yeah, absolutely. And by the way, I think that's a really valid one. I mean, part of my, you know, this sort of critique I have of society in our dynamic is that part of the reason you're seeing that dynamic, and there are, by the way, ways to mitigate against it, you can ask like, Hey, do you have space for this, because we're all struggling. And not everyone in every moment is going to have the ability to receive something like depression or depressive moment from somebody. So there's ways to navigate that as well. But the part of the, again, to return to the critique is that these issues are very difficult, and they're very complex. And it should not be incumbent upon any one individual or any two, three, like few individuals to deal with. We hear it to a point where it's really become empty but it's not empty at all to say that it takes a village, it truly, truly does. And that's part of the problem is that dealing with somebody with depression, I've organized little parties where we go, and we help them clean and just do basic stuff, because they're having a hard time getting out of bed. And for any one person or any few people, especially because everyone is people are really struggling themselves. It does become too much. And so the question is training the best way to say this, the question is, really, we need systemic responses to this, because it's not something that any one person can or is equipped to deal with. It really requires an entire, an entire system, and an entire community. And I think that's why there is so much pain. And well, I mean, it's crazy to me that we live in one of the richest societies in all of human existence. And we have suicide rates that are just growing almost exponentially, especially for young people. It's absolutely crazy. And I think that's no mistake, because the loneliness and alienation people feel, and how much we've moved away from having communities, and communities in the real sense of the word. That's a whole another topic that we, I'm thinking we're probably having to, but what we call communities here in the US is a very shallow understanding of that. Sad part of it is it can't be on one person or two people or even a few people, it really requires a village. And that's part of the whole problem.
SPENCER: Yeah, I feel like it's such a difficult needle thread where if someone is depressed or having a mental health crisis, it can be really difficult to help that person. And they can put a lot of stress in the people trying to help them, they also need a lot of help often. So it's sort of like this balance of not getting so overwhelmed that you actually become worse to helping them or feel like you want to cut that person off, but given to them what you can give without burning yourself out.
SASHA: Exactly. And that's your talk about like hitting the nail on the head. This is exactly the problem and exactly why our entire approach is wrong. If you are struggling to get food on the table work 60 hours a week, which let's be realistic, nobody really works 40. It's always more than 40. Not to mention at least traditionally, there was a commute for some people, there's less but for many people like service workers, there's even more, if you're trying to do all that and you have a depressed friend, how on earth are you supposed to be able to care for ironically, it's often those communities that are best able to care because it's there's just a whole different value system in general. But again, this points to why we can't view this as an individual problem and why I'm so angry with the mental health community and many professionals because the focus is self-care, self-this, self-that. And they're really missing the forest for the trees. There's a really great meme that was circulating about the other some article, I know maybe CNN or something like that. And he was saying if you want to do your part and stopping global warming, you'll eat less red meat and do more recycling and the sky says The fact that you're pointing out individual contributions when and I asked him to get the numbers on like 10%, it's like, companies are the ones responsible for something like 80% of the global warming is journalistic malpractice. And to me, it's the same equivalent with mental health. It's like, you have individuals that are struggling, looking for help through to other individuals that are struggling, when really all those people like are being failed by a system that just doesn't work and doesn't provide the basics that is needed for human flourishing. But then you keep putting the responsibility back on the individual. And it's a really gaslighting and toxic sort of dance that's happening, and being reinforced constantly.
SPENCER: He talks about that word gaslighting for a moment, I think it's a really important concept. I'm not sure everyone's familiar with it.
SASHA: Yeah, absolutely. It's delicate, and not always easy to explain. So I'll do my best but you might also have a better definition than I do. I don't always get it across the as well as I would like to. But gaslighting is it's sort of a lot of sometimes subtle, and sometimes not so subtle attempts to sort of make somebody question their sanity or reality. And so here is a prime example that I like to use of gaslighting. So let's say that you and I are hanging out somewhere, and all of a sudden, for no good reason, I just start yelling at you, really violently, totally going back to you. And you understandably, unreasonably are like, "What that was, whoa, like, he just yelled at me. That was awful. That was so inappropriate." And I, instead of saying, "You're right, I yelled at you for no good reason. I'm so sorry." I say, "Hey, why are you overreacting like, what's wrong? It's not a big deal. Like, I don't know why you're so sensitive." So rather than kind of, like, take responsibility, acknowledge that this thing happened, I sort of deny your reality that it's not a big deal. And I make you seem like something's wrong with you. Like, oh, you're just being sensitive. You're just overreacting. Does that help, clarify makes sense?
SPENCER: Yeah, absolutely. And I would just point out that some people, when they're in close relationships, they gaslight the people that they're with visit, where I've seen this come up a lot, where basically, you get a situation where one person is like acting very unreasonably, and like, often doing things are harmful to their partner, and then they're constantly telling their partner that the partner is being unreasonable for reacting to their behavior.
SASHA: Well, yeah. And so exactly gaslighting is happening on a personal, interpersonal, and collective level of every day. I mean, part of the problem is that we are gaslit as a society constantly. And so the dynamic you're describing is perfect to describe what women experience on a nonstop basis what people of color experience on a nonstop basis. I mean, I think that men would be most men would be shocked to find out the level to which I am sexually harassed or assaulted on a daily basis, I get tackled almost every day. And it makes me really angry. And one of the most common responses you get is, "Oh, you're so angry." And it's very frustrating, because it's kind of like, the focus is on my anger, and not the fact that I'm angry, because I have men touching my body on a regular basis who I have not, I don't even know. And so we were kind of living in a cesspool of gaslighting, which is part of what contributes to this overall kind of crazy-making nest, if you will. And that's kind of part of the point with mental illness and all this stuff is that the way we view mental illness is kind of, like, oh, something's wrong with that person. Whereas that person, if you are subjected to these kinds of things on a daily or regular basis, it will drive you crazy. And rather than say, we have an unhealthy society or a toxic or abusive society, and you're having a normal response to that. And we need to do better to fix this. We say that you have a problem, and you need to be fixed and write a gratitude journal. So this very maddening mix and that makes your depression even worse, because you're kind of like, "Oh, it's just me." It's really like a bizarre 1984. You know, up is down, down is up type of reality to live in. And it's like the frog in the boiling pot. I speak to people who are survivors of domestic violence, all the stuff and the irony is that the violence itself like the physical, there are a lot of people who have survived violence both physical and emotional, and they always say, almost always, they say the emotional is worse. And the reason why it's because the physical violence is obvious, if I tell you, Spencer or if I tell whenever somebody I consider to be very, very insensitive like Tony Robbins is physically assaulted, they're going to be like, oh, that's awful, that's a no, but the psychological and emotional abuse that we're all kind of like subjected to on a daily basis. First of all, it's not obvious, a lot of us don't even know it's happening. And then if you try to tell people what's happening, then they will make you question yourself even more. And the pain that causes, it's measurable. And it's the slow boil, and it happens over time, and you don't even realize that it's happening. And that's where the real danger is. And that's the point of having these discussions. It's not to be like, oh, woe is me, it's kind of like, this is happening. And you're not crazy. And I'm here to validate you, because lord knows the spaces, you're going to find that validate you. And these are going to be very few and far between in normative culture.
SPENCER: So you pointed out that there's this way that society tends to gaslight and you gave a couple of examples like you get one example of how you have to deal with sexual harassment, and because on a regular basis, and then people like you're so angry, what you know, but it's like, well, when you be angry if this has happened to time, can you give some other examples of the way society gaslights us because I think it's super important.
SASHA: Yeah, I'm one example when it may just seem kind of like a silly little one. But one thing that, for some reason, to not escaped me is when is Obama's reaction to Harvey Weinstein. So I used to work in Hollywood. And when that was happening, he issued a response that was something along the lines, it was just shock and disbelief, and I'm sorry. And it was kind of a perfect example of gaslighting because here you have the president of this free world. And Harvey Weinstein, somebody who's very, very famous and very, very well-known to be abusers to the point where people were used the butt of jokes like these were jokes at the Oscars, somebody actually made a joke on stage at the Oscars years before he received any of the actual backlash. But these were well-known jokes in the industry. They were and Obama's daughter, I'm not sure if you're aware, She interned for the Weinstein. And this is a person who again, daughter of the President of the free world, she could have literally been Steven Spielberg, right hand if you wanted, but you're going to pretend that you and Hillary Clinton, all these people knew, like Jeffrey Epstein, didn't you? This was not a shock. And so I don't like to use this word offended me. But, for lack of a better word, I'm going to use it anyway. I find it very offensive. Because it's one thing if you said, You know what, we made a huge mistake. We all knew this. We collectively failed you as a society. We didn't do our part. We allow this to happen. And we're so sorry. And we must do better. He didn't do that, though. He said, "Oh, how shot I have no idea." And it's like, dude, you really expect me to believe that you didn't know, of course, you know, your Secretary of State knew. I mean, it's a total joke. And so, and I mean, politicians, it's almost like the art of gaslighting is constantly like voter rights. You know, nobody's saying we don't want people of color, we want it to make it more difficult for them to vote. They're pretending it's about voter rights, when really, it's just such an obvious way to do that. Because nobody can say out loud, we don't want people of color to be able to vote as easily. And another way that really, and this is a critique, talking about scathing critique of media that just drives me nuts, it's like the media and I love including like conservatives at the end with a riot. It's kind of like, oh, no, things have gotten so out of hand. How did this happen? And we can't believe it. And even the media are creepy, like criticizing Trump even before that. It's like, wow, we can't believe how bad things have gotten. And it's like, they created him. And they don't ever take responsibility or acknowledge that. They're still in the process of training him even as they're doing. I mean, the President of the NBC series, I'm pretty sure it's NBC. He said, Trump is bad for America, but good for ratings. So these are people who it's not that they didn't know what they were doing. It's not that he thought, oh, like, it's not that big of a deal, whatever. It's people who they knew this man is dangerous, he is a danger, but he gets us good ratings. So we are going to give him more airtime than all the other candidates combined all together, even though his arguments or at least based in reality and facts, and they're the most ad hominem and the most abusive and the most horrible, and then later It's like they're constantly playing this like, oh golly gee, how did this happen? happen because of you, you created him. And then you pretend like you have no idea.
SPENCER: So Courtney Love was interviewed, and someone asked her what advice she has for young women trying to make it in Hollywood? And she said, um, I'll get libeled if I say it, but then she said, If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party in his Four Seasons hotel room don't go. And then in addition to that, Quentin Paltrow in 1998, was actually she was asked by David Letterman. Are you in the studio of your own freewill? And she said, Do you count Harvey Weinstein has a courser and then they kind of joked about him. And she said, I do all my movies for Harvey Weinstein. I'm lucky to do them from there, but he will coerce you to do a finger too. So these were like literally being discussed on television, in front of huge numbers of people these kinds of quotes about him a really, really long time ago. Oh, yeah.
SASHA: And I just looked it up. Seth MacFarlane was one of the ones who made the joke onstage at the Oscars. You can literally watch footage of it years before, as well, in Rose McGowan. I give her so much credit because she was one of the first and she paid a very heavy price. She was, I believe, before Courtney before anyone she was dropped by her agents, she was really, really gone after and I give her so much credit for that because being the first is just horrible and horrific. And the way that people especially those with power will come after you. You're really putting yourself in the line of danger. And so I mean, I've heard mixed things. I don't know if she's a good person or bad or even what that necessarily even means. But wow, like, just the fact that she was doing that. I cannot say that I have that I'm one of the strongest, most courageous people I know. And I speak on these issues a lot. And I don't think I have even remotely the level of strength it takes to do that.
SASHA: Even in the medical industry, you have doctors who this is what I think is so funny about people who think they have this fake delineation between rationality and emotions and you have people who you know that they think they're amongst the most rational and they are doctors scientists, and they're gaslighting their own patients. I mean, if you're a person of color, you're more likely to die in the hospital system. If you are a woman, you're more likely to die of a heart attack if you go to the emergency room. Now we know that men overall have more heart attacks in general, but the difference is that when they do go to the ER presenting with symptoms of heart attack, they're taken more seriously. Whereas women are often told to go home when they're having a heart attack and told that it's psychological. So that's a gaslighting, the dangerous effect is very immediate in there. And I experienced this in my own personal life. I had cancer when I was 20 years old. That took me over a year to get diagnosed. And over the course of that year, I saw that this is not a case of a bad apple. This was a start I saw doctor after doctor after doctor. And keep in mind I also was a textbook case. What I mean by that is I had every symptom cancer is diagnosed in stages as well as ARB, and that refers to asymptomatic or symptomatic. And I was symptomatic and had every symptom. And I have repeatedly turned away and told to see a psychiatrist told that my problems were psychological. And meanwhile, I was puking, having 105-degree fever, telling the doctors this, telling them that I can wake up sick, they would give me sleeping pills to go back to sleep. So gaslighting, it's just constantly happening on so many levels all the time, we're kind of swimming in a toxic soup of it. And that's what contributes to this sort of Stockholm syndrome where we don't even see it. Because to us, it's just normal.
SPENCER: So that speaks to this interesting topic, which is that when really bad people get into positions of great power, a lot of people tend to just to get a piece of their power or not want to rock the boat or not want to enrage this powerful person end up sort of putting up with their bad behavior. And I think we see this again and again, and it takes really tremendous courage to stand up against these people. But it's one of the only ways that they can be stopped because they can often cause harm for decades. And we saw this with Weinstein, we also saw Jeffrey Epstein, as well. And there have been quite a number of cases. In addition to that.
SASHA: Oh, yeah, I mean, you have two out of nine people on the Supreme Court who have been openly accused of various forms of sexual assault or harassment, and have been accused by people to be widely lauded as credible. And they sit on the Supreme Court, and then we had a president who was one of them. So it's very, very, very rare talk about gaslighting. It's beyond frustrating when people's response or people's reason for discrediting abuse survivors is Well, why didn't you say anything? Why didn't you press charges? It's like, well, let's see. The President, the leader of the free world, not only has credible accusations, but it's caught on tape talking openly about sexual assault, and we have two out of nine of the and I think five, five are men. So two out of five, so almost 50% of the men on the Supreme Court have been reputedly accused, and they sit in the highest offices in the land, and these women have received death threats and assault, threats and and then you have the audacity to question why victims don't come forward. It's hard to in this day and age, there is ignorance. And then there is willful ignorance. And in this day, and age and 2022, post me to all that. It's I have to say, I'm somebody who really tries to be empathetic. But it is really hard to understand how people can say such things that to me are so obviously hurtful. And so obviously discredited when you understand these realities, because it's kind of like da why would victims afford it makes no sense. You know, they have everything to lose, but almost nothing to gain.
SPENCER: Yeah, and you and I talked recently, because I did a essay about this topic of trying to correct YCS common misconceptions about people who have been sexually harassed or assaulted, or raped. And one of the ones I tried to address is, well, if it really happened, why didn't the woman come forward? Or why did she wait 20 years come forward? And to you, it's like, incredibly obvious why. But I think actually, to a lot of men, it's not obvious. So I think it might be helpful actually go into some of the reasons like why actually, a lot of women will not come forward. And I'll just say, speaking from personal experience, I know a lot of women who I'm close friends with who have been sexually assaulted or raped, and two, and I think only one of them has ever publicly come forward or went to the police. I think every other case they did not. And personally, I think it's because the incentives are really not there to come forward. And mostly, as you're kind of pointing out, it's not in their own interest to do so. Which I think is terrible. I think we need to change those incentives. But could you kind of explain a bit more for maybe men who just don't really get why people don't come forward?
SASHA: Yeah, I'm so glad to go into that. I'll start off with the first reason which is, there are a lot of scary reasons why they don't but maybe the first is you in the scarier because one of the main reasons I think women don't come forward as they don't even realize they were assaulted, to be honest, because again, gaslighting and the social norms are so toxic and abusive that this was just considered normal conditioning for women. To be honest, I did not realize that a lot of what had happened to me was sexual assault, was reap until a few years ago when me to happen and I was a you know, 30 something year-old woman. I can remember being a teenage girl and I start college when I was 16. And I was very mature in some ways, but very immature in other ways. And I feel very grateful that I was sexually immature. And that's not something that I started willfully of my own volition doing until much later I was like, in my 20s, but I remember a teenager, again, not being remotely trying to be sexually active whatsoever and waking up to have guys trying to, like, take my pants off or move my clothes or be inserting themselves or other things in me. And I remember talking to my friends and being like, yeah, he's kind of gross or like, yeah, but he's just like that. And so it was just so normal. Like, it was really considered normal, or a lot of it being like, yeah, but why did you pass out? Why were you drinking? Like, you shouldn't have been there or like, yeah, but I've seen you flirt with him. I've seen you lead him on and, or, like initiate like me in my naivete, like making out with a boy. And that being taken as some sort of assumption that something was owed to him or that it was an unacceptable for me to change my mind. Those were such normal parts of our upbringing. And by the way, they still remain I have experiences to this day, were one of my my funniest and this is a pretty mild one. During COVID, there was a there's a pizza joint where people would sometimes congregate outside and I was there and this guy kept touching me. And I said, "Stop touching me stop" He would touch the small of my back. That's a very common move. And I said, "Stop touching me." And I repeated it. And I think the third time one of my other friends who's there's a big guy, he overheard and he said, "Dude, what are you doing? She's told you to stop, stop touching her." And the man who was touching me and he said, "I'm so sorry, man, I won't do it again." And he apologized to the man even apologized to me. So weird it's my body session when he apologized to the man. And this is again, why I'm so thrilled to be having this conversation with you. Because I think the other part that men don't get my realized. So I'm going on a little bit of a tangent from your question. But part of the problem of why men don't really get it is because they hear women talking about it. And they rarely hear men talk like talking about it or taking it seriously. And so these conversations where it's frustrating that my voice hearing it from me directly doesn't matter, both in the moment, and both after the fact. But the truth is like that that is a man who I could have said it 1000 times, but if I didn't have a guy, stand up for me and say it for me, it wouldn't matter. Because I do remember the original question that I do want to answer. A lot of women are conditioned to not think that they were sexually assaulted to begin with, or that it was their fault for the sexual harassment, or sexual assault. Our society is also one of these countries and uses it's very victim shaming and blaming, no other crime if I told my friends I was robbed, nobody's gonna say, "Well, why were you in that? You know, why were you wearing a nice outfit in a poor neighborhood?" You know, nobody's like, nobody yells at like a guy for if he's robbed, why was he wearing a nice suit, and rape and sexual assault, it's one of these areas where the victims usually get very attacked, so and are very air scrutinized to a grotesque degree. So, for instance, I'm going to take like an absurd, almost extreme example. Let's say it's two people. And let's say a fourth comes up and starts to do something that is against their will. So it was essentially a rape, you know, maybe inserts himself whatever it is. Now, that victim, she might not want to have to tell the world hey, like, it's her personal life. She might run a multimillion dollar organization, she might be a teacher, she might be a janitor, who knows, but she might not want to have to say, Hey, I was in it's, frankly, it's none of our business. And she's allowed to have whatever forms of consensual sex she wants. And of course, she will be judged much more critically than the man. But that's another reason is you have to open yourself up to a public level of scrutiny. And again, a form of blame, then retaliation is a huge, huge reason. retaliation, safety and danger, I guess I could kind of put under one big umbrella is the likelihood of pushback or the likelihood that your assaulters will discredit you, blame you, shame you, drag your name through the mud, do every vicious trick that exists in the book, anything to take the attention and blame off of themselves and put it on to the victim. There is a very high likelihood of that happening. So again, it kind of just goes back to why would anyone come forward? It makes no sense. And these are just some of the reasons there's even more.
SPENCER: Yeah, and I think those are all really excellent points. I also want to address another misconception, which I think may be even harder for people to get which is sometimes after being sexually assaulted or raped, women stay in contact with the person that abused them, and then people will use that as like proof that that couldn't have really happened, right? That they're like, well, she just didn't contact me she needed this text message where she seemed positive and warm to the person. So clearly they couldn't have been raped. Right, or they couldn't have been abused. Do you want to comment on that?
SASHA: Yeah, I'm so glad you asked that because I didn't want to run on a tangent. But that was a point that I was very much. Because it's, yeah, it's also a huge, huge misconception. There are so many reasons why that happens. First of all one reason is shame in denial and embarrassment. It's having been raped or assaulted, especially again, in this sort of toxic stew of a society that I'm describing, women internalize so much, and so much of it feels like it's their fault. And if it happens to them, it's so shameful. It's so embarrassing. A lot of the instinct is to bury your head in the sand and pretend that it didn't happen and for business to go on. And, as usual, especially. And I think this is another common misconception. I've never been a victim of domestic violence in the physical sense. But some of the women that have are amongst the most surprising, and what I mean by that is very powerful women, women who like me are very strong, strong will use their voice, like their bosses in so many domains. And so when you think of somebody who's a rape survivor, or domestic violence survivor, he would be really shocked. And I think actually, what that does is it creates even more shame, and almost like a cognitive dissonance where you can't really square reality like it just doesn't make sense. And you feel like, well, I am powerful enough where I am this. So it really must have been my fault. And it's just like self brutalization that we eventually internalized because of what we're constantly subjected to and seeing and the outside world. So one of them is this denial on this deep level, we don't even want to admit it or admit it to ourselves. And part of it and I mentioned this example to Spencer, because you know, your posts. I'm so grateful for it for both it originally, but also the opportunity to have conversations that it has allowed us to have since then, but one of the examples I told you, really impressed me. So I love my occasional trash, garbage TV and one of my, one of my big indulgences. And that is the Bachelor and The Bachelorette. And it really was by far the most impressive moment I've ever seen. Were one of the recent bachelorettes Katie, she admitted openly that she was raped. And she was so embarrassed and so ashamed of the fact that she was raped, that she was actually she dated her rapists after that he became her boyfriend. And that is not something that is that uncommon and makes sense. It's in a way, it's like an attempt to reclaim power. Yeah, to take your power back. You know, one of the reasons it makes me so sad that we're so victim-blaming and shaming is that we act like everyone's just crying victim and that it's like an easy thing to do. Admitting you're a victim is one of the strongest, most difficult things to do, especially in a society that really hates victims and does horrible things to them. And so, to be able to say you're a victim is a feat of remarkable strength and bravery and courage. And a lot of us, it takes us a lot of time to even be able to get there. And in the meantime, supplicating your abuser or kind of going along with it, to deny that reality is not uncommon. And also, again, in terms of retaliation in terms of, I mean, you and I are both in and I've even nominated you for some of these pretty high level societies. And the reality is that I know at least someone who's an abuser there but if there is going to be at least multiple abusers there and so the likelihood that my that point of view will be welcome there gets pretty slim because there are probably other men and I don't want to say abusers are only men I'm going to use this in a more casual way and apologies for that. I do want to acknowledge that women can also be abusers and found that there is a lot of pain that a lot of men have from sexual assault, but But it's kind of like it behooves you in those scenarios, it's kind of like well, I better act friendly I better toe the line, I better get along because if I say something, there's a good likelihood that members of the board or people running this they're going to either be abusers themselves or friends of the abusers and they're so I better be nice. A lot of times these abuse abusers have power. They can ruin your career. They can ruin your reputation, it can ruin your social life. And again, there's the whole denial thing and not wanting to face it has even happened, I still find myself, I run a mental health organization, I'm somebody who's about a million times more aware of these issues than most. And I still find myself second guessing, having I still find myself freezing, having these responses. So yeah, there's just a whole host of reasons and safety just being one of them. It can be safer to supplicate your abuser, not can be it most often is safer to do that.
SPENCER: I'll just add one thing to what you said, which is that a lot of times people are, when they're assaulted or raped, it's by people that they know to some degree. And so they may not have a way of avoiding that person because the person works their company or is in their friend circle, or whatever. And so that can actually create a sense of fear of like, okay, I'd rather have this person think everything's okay, then think that, I might tell everyone, right, and so there's a kind of trying to defuse that.
SPENCER: Another thing that I've seen happen sometimes is that the person abuse could be in love with the abuser. And so I've seen a handful of cases of this where someone is raped by a boyfriend or by someone that they're really attached to, and then it creates this incredible cognitive dissonance, right? Like, they don't want to believe that the person that they're in love with did this to them, right?
SASHA: Oh, yeah, I'm dealing with that very closely in my real life right now. Yeah. I have a friend who is sort of taken in formal role of therapist for them and counselor for them. And in our work together, she realized that she'd been raped by her husband's right started with him complaining about their sex life and that she's not good at sex. And over the course of many, many hours of working with them, we realized, she realized that, so we explore that, okay, well, let's talk about the sex. She was hating it. She wasn't wanting to do it. And he was doing it anyway. They've been married for decades. They also have an open relationship, and he's been raping and assaulting other women. And I do not envy her the position she is in right now realizing that the man I love adore has been married to for decades has been not only raping me, but friends and people I know. That is a mind boggling discrepancy to contend with. Even that's putting it mildly.
SPENCER: I want to bring up something that is difficult to talk about, which is so when I did this post about sexual assault and rape. One comment that someone made about it was along the lines of, well, sometimes when women accused people of raping them, it's not what I would call rape, it's they consented to have sex with someone and then change their mind after the fact or there was no way that the person could have known they didn't want to say and given the context, etc. I wanted to hear your thoughts on that. Because I do think that is something that quite a number of people think they have this view that well, some of these are just sort of people being overly sensitive or something like that.
SASHA: Yep. And again, there's that word gaslighting is that overly sensitive is one of my favourite ways to make people question their own reality of abuse and assault.
SPENCER: I'm sure you love it when people say you're over sensitive.
SASHA: Yeah, I actually have been designing a merch line and it's like, maybe I'm not too sensitive. Maybe you're just an asshole. I do want to acknowledge there is so much nuance in this space. And there's so much complexity. I mean, some of it's not some of this just pretty cut and dry. And even that we suck at but there's a whole nother level where I almost imagine if sex if sex education were a person at what stage we would be at as a society. And I think that maybe we're not an infancy maybe infancy was kind of me too, but we're not too far after that, where we're still kind of like learning to walk and figure this out because there's so much nuance here. And part of the reason that in are aware of like kink communities or sex communities. You know, one of the things that one of the principles they have, which, to answer your question is so important is they have something that's one of their tenants is enthusiastic consent. And the reason that that is so important is because a lot of what we think of as rape is like, oh, well, if she didn't say no, or if she didn't yell, or whatever it is, then it's fine. But actually, that's not congruent with how we understand trauma and brains to work. So we have certain neurobiological adaptations and responses that we go to in mode, like survival modes that we go to, that are part of that, like that evolutionary part of our brain, the most animal instinct, and that is, we know fight-flight. A lot of us don't know freeze-fawn. And freeze is pretty self-explanatory. It's like you're in a scary whatever situation, and you totally freeze unable to do anything, almost like a process and fawn people are less aware of, but it's sort of what I was describing earlier, where you actually supplicate or try to smooth over the situation by sometimes even giving in. So this is a common one where even like, men are like, Well, why don't you just say no, why don't you something that men aren't very aware of is a not uncommon experience I've had and that many other women have. We get caught called, we say no, or we ignore the person catcalling us, at which point they start saying something like, you like arrogant bitch, you think you're too good for me? And so sometimes the safest response is to just say, Yes, I actually, I had a best one of my best friends and her 13 year old daughter were living with me and the 13 year old looked much older is very beautiful girls hit on a lot. And we talked about this in our universe, like, say, scared to say no. And she's like, Yeah, and so one of the things I've done that I tell other women to do that I that I did with her in that moment is I got her a fake number, like a Google voice or text number. Here's the thing is that even if you give a guy a fake number, and he calls it on the spot, he'll know it's a fake number. But if you give them a fake number, but it's one actually connected to your phone, and it rings, the guy is supplicated, he feels like he got what he want. And you can get away, at that point, delete the number, get a new one, or just block it or just don't pay attention to it. So there's all these safety measures and mechanisms that men don't even get. It's a delicate dance that we have to do. And when saying no can actually be dangerous. And that's again, assuming the person can even say no to begin with, because they go into a freeze response. And again, this isn't the person consciously choosing like, Oh, I'm gonna trick this person by not saying no, it's them being momentarily essentially paralyzed. And this happens to even women like me who were very vocal I had a recently I was right before COVID, I went on a date with a man who was like in his 40s, who had a teenage son, we went to the theater. And I was also very excited. I've been on the receiving end of so much trash. A lot of women, I was like trash behavior that I'm very clear from the start and very clear that I was not ready. Like this is a first date. I was not ready for a sexual relationship. But we had a great first date we, we got drinks, got some food. And then we decided to go see a movie. And this man during the movie, he kept trying to teacup and zipping my pants, and I kept zipping pants back up again. And he kept doing it over and over and over again. And I don't know how to describe exactly what I went into. I think I was just in it was kind of a shock. Like, it was hard to believe it was happening. It was just very surreal. And also it's in a movie theater. It's dark. There's other people watching your there's a kind of a there's an oppression of propriety that we also don't talk about, where it's like in a situation like that, if I'm the one who yelled at him or hits him or whatever. The way that's going to come across is well, there was this nice guy just sitting there. And all of a sudden, this woman got really crazy and just yelled at him in the movie theater ruined our movie. Like how dare like, and just women are crazy. Aren't they crazy? Well, they wouldn't know that. I've been sitting there for the past fucking hour dealing with a guy trying to unzip my pants over and over and over again. Right. And so it's kind of like the amount of awareness we have to have and factor all this in. But at the when the movie was I was really the entire time kind of panicked, but also trying to be aware of my breath trying to come back to my breathing like I again, I have more tools and most I was still struggling. But I was really trying to collect myself and I immediately like kind of ran to the bathroom afterwards, like splashed water my face, took some more breaths, and I went out there and I said to him, I said, I have a question for you. What about a woman being resistant to your advances and indicating she has no interest makes you say, oh, I want to keep doing that? And he was like, huh, and I was like well, you kept unzipping my pants, I kept zipping them back up during the movie, unless you thought there was like a magical fairy there, zipping it up for me. The other natural logical conclusion would be that the grown woman sitting next to you is dipping her own pants back up. And so maybe she doesn't want that, and maybe don't keep doing it. And his response was, Well, why didn't you do something about it? Why didn't you like, hit me? Why didn't you yell at me? And it was exactly what I mean, but this is so normal to hear this kind of stuff. And I was like, Excuse me, like, is this what you teach your teenage son, as long as she doesn't yell at you or hit you, it's okay to keep going. How did this turn into an assessment of me, instead of you like, this should not be a time to be critiquing how I didn't respond good enough. This is a time where you're like, holy shit, I am a 40-something-year-old man. And I am forcibly, relentlessly trying to do something to a grown woman that she does not want to do. And then I imagine younger versions of me or, more insecure versions of me or, again, less aware of versions of me, and how much likelier I would to fall for that beat and think it's my fault. Or I actually remember after this, crying because I was really deep in this work and telling a friend and I'm so embarrassed, I'm so ashamed, I didn't do more, I know better, I know better. And it was actually a guy. And he was like, stop it like this is he's like, Stop, this happens so much. And it's automatic. This is human wiring. It's not just somebody trying to, again, trick somebody. And you also have to consider this is something that's left out so commonly, and that's why I'm really relishing the opportunity to introduce this, we now know that intergenerational trauma exists, we know that trauma is passed down, we know that it lives in our bodies, I know that it literally like affects our cellular biology.
SPENCER: A little bit because like, when you say that's passed down, what do you mean by that?
SASHA: Yeah, I mean, so first of all, I'm not a scientist, as you can probably tell, but all everything I've been describing is in a very lay way. And, and this is definitely not my domain of expertise. So I don't feel comfortable speaking to it too much. But I can just give a basic sense of like, for instance, I'm Jewish, my family, we get Holocaust survivors, my grandparents and studying trauma, we know that it is passed down, it's inherited, for the vast majority of human history. And again, there have been matriarchal societies and things like that. But in terms of like, the modern world history, as we know it, and the dominant paradigm, by far, far, far, for most of you in history, like I mean, even until what was it? When was it that until the 70s, it was considered that a husband could not rape his wife, and I mean that it wasn't considered rape, if it was within a marriage, as in the woman's body was considered to be man's property, basically.
SPENCER: So yeah, I think, I think it was like, yeah, in the 70s, there was a trial where someone was accused of raping their spouse. And that was sort of a pivotal case.
SASHA: Yeah, but prior to that, it wasn't considered rape, if it was your wife, and prior to that women were allowed to have credit card. So you basically have the past, you know, the past only few decades, where women have any morsel of bodily autonomy, and you have the vast majority of human history where a woman could be murdered, slaughtered, stoned, everything you can imagine for saying no, or for saying, yes, there's no way I see that that is not transmitted, and that is not carry down. And so enter does racial trauma also plays a role in their ability, like if you are, for instance, like you yourself, could be a product of rape. And so the idea that it might not be the easiest for you to say, No, when you are in a situation like that with somebody who I've dated shorter and smaller men. I've never dated a single man that couldn't like if we got in a physical altercation couldn't beat me and buy like a ton. And I remember early on, I'm a very playful person I would play wrestle with like boyfriends and stuff. And they would always just like it was just so easy for them just slow me down or whatever. And a few times I was like, no, let me really really try and I didn't even stand a chance in so I would try with other people and includes people who are following me like I just my physical strength has no comparison to that. And most men don't know what that's like to experience that like sure they know what it's like with other men you're in there or not. And men are gonna get into fights but to have like, every time you're in a sexual or romantic relationship to know that person can physically dominate you the effects that that has on you and your ability to fight-flight-freeze.
SPENCER: Yeah, I like to when I'm talking to men about the way women feel in different situations where they might feel uncomfortable being around a man. I think it's like really how for them to imagine that they're there with another man who's like six inches taller than them. And that man is doing the thing to them because I think it's like a much better parallel. Because I think if they imagine, they're like, well, I wouldn't mind if someone you know, told me I had a nice ass, I'm like, okay, we'll see you're in an elevator with a guy who's like six foot five. And he's like, Oh, nice ass, and you're trapped in the elevator with him, right? Like, are you sure you wouldn't feel uncomfortable in that scenario?
SASHA: It's also fascinating the bifurcation because there wasn't a night, very recently, a few weeks ago, where I was in a club, and I was touched repeatedly throughout the night. Initially, I just didn't want to deal with it. And I knew that if I did anything, I would be the angry woman. So I was just like, I don't want to have that kind of night. I just want enjoy yourself. So it gets up, it was happening. And I was just ignoring it moving away, and it kept happening. Finally, I just got so sick of it. And I was like, what makes you think that you can touch my body? Like, is there a single man in this room, that you would come up to you? And just touch the way you just touched me? And I was like, no, of course not. I was like, so as far as you're concerned, imagine that I'm the biggest, baddest motherfucker here and act like that. Whenever you see me. This is the bifurcation I'm resolved that I'm talking about because I actually I wrote this up. I posted it and a lot of men met like, more of them won't say it, then we'll say it but others fronds and talking to them and publicly where they're like, wow, you seem really angry. And again, it's this disturbing gaslighting. And then the funny thing is that women will be like, oh my God, thank you so much. Like, I can't thank you enough. This is life saving. This is transformative. You're my spirit animal. You're crazy. I'm not saying this to blow smoke up my ass. I'm saying this because women are begging for validation that we're not crazy to be angry about this. And the responses I get from women and most like some of them publicly, you can reason that Trevor there are so many of them privately like, man, I wish I did that. I wish I had that courage. I wish I said that. I wish I didn't freeze I wish men got to see that. And it's just funny that gender bifurcation that happens there were men sort of find it like unbecoming and impolite and impropriety this and see this angry women, whereas women are like, they experienced this and they know and they're like, are like, fuck, man, I wish people got it. And I'm begging, like, and I'm wishing I had the own strength. And I don't know why I can't even find it. Like, it's taken years of deliberate work for me to even be able to speak up as much as I do. And I get a bad rap for it. And the men who do this stuff don't get near a bad rap is I do for standing up to it. And it's one of the things that is, you know, very painful, it causes a lot of loneliness and alienation, and again, just contributes to this sense of wrongness and defeatedness and I sort of don't really know where I get the strength to carry on other than I know, in my bones, that it's not okay. And that my responding to it is okay. But otherwise, it's you live in a society that's totally got it backwards is certainly as far as I'm concerned. But I would hope far beyond how I'm concerned.
SPENCER: Yeah, I also just want to add that, I feel like a lot of times the focus that some people want to put on cases that are like really unclear and really borderline where but like, could the person really have no, another person didn't want this. I feel like it's often a distraction, because like, when friends come to me and tell me about these scenarios, it's never those borderline cases, they probably do have some borderline cases to happen. But like all the cases that I know about, from my friends telling me are like super clear cut, they're totally cut and dried, the abuser was completely in the wrong. I think that people who tend to focus on the borderline cases, they just don't realize or maybe they're willfully ignorant sometimes of just like the credibly huge number of really clear cut cases are happening and going on reported.
SASHA: Yeah, absolutely. And I think you and I have made really good points about how skewed even the information that they're getting is or that they're getting it at all is, I mean, in that particular thread that we're talking about. There were a lot of really unsettling and disturbing remarks from a few men but one of them was exactly what you're describing this question and like, oh, well, what I hear is something totally different and it's kind of like well, yeah, No shit, Sherlock, why would anyone want to talk to you about it? This is something I know not to talk to them about it because I know the responses are going to be along the lines of some of them more insensitive, callous, and that's the best side I'm not even talking about the people that are just like actively verbal, even your average person is just going to be not really know how to deal with it or not really aware and you're going to say a lot of stuff that's just you know, well, why are you there? What did you do to call it and so and then you have somebody who is even several orders of standard deviation worse than that and actively aggressively coming at victims and survivors. And then he saying, "Well, I never hear that." It's like, Why, of course? Why would you hear that? I wouldn't even shout it to you from 1000 miles away, because it would be awful to engage in that just type of discussion or be open and forthright with you about it, you're gonna get a very skewed sampling of what's really going on.
SPENCER: Yeah, it's such a good point. I mean, there's a selection bias of like who people feel comfortable sharing with about these things. I think this also comes up a lot with harassment where I've seen many times guys be totally shocked when a woman friend tells them how often they're like sexually harassed in the streets, because men just almost never see it. Like when a man is standing there with a woman, other men, generally, at least, my experience will not sexually harass them. But then when they're alone, suddenly they get a ton of it.
SASHA: That is very common, but also you're not part of it is privilege inoculates you to a certain degree. And that's across the board. I mean, I get to be oblivious to a lot of harm that is being perpetrated against people of color all the time, because it just doesn't even occur to me. And I think that's also a big part of it. And part of my work. And my job is that knowing the privilege is going to inoculate me knowing that I'm less likely to see it, it then becomes my job to try to see it and to try to be less in my own bubble, and to become more aware of my surroundings. And to do this, because I think that, you know, one of my frustrations is that no matter how good women get at talking about it, defending ourselves from it, doing all this, if men aren't on board is just not going to change. Because again, there's that subset of men who it's like, I'm not with a guy, or if there isn't a bigger guy in the room telling them to stop, they're not going to. Part of where I'm coming from, there's upsetness, but there's also just, there's a desperation and like an earnest plea to all of you, that we really need your help, and we need you on board. And it's just imperative. And I will say to that effect that extension about that is that what I really hate is that somehow talking about this stuff becomes conflated with like man-hating or man-bashing, or becomes this model all men thing. And that is just so far from the point. And I will say, again, being a survivor of a lot of harm. I mean, there's moments where I will say things like, I hate men, but we all have those moments where we say things like that, but in my heart, I know hate and I know, there so many good men. And actually, part of why I want to enroll men in this process is men's work, and kind of get into what that means. But basically, I am somebody who defines myself as a feminist, but to me, feminism is, the goals of feminism will never be accomplished if there isn't a similar movement for men. And what I mean by that is that men suffer under patriarchy just as much as women do, if not more, I mean, the idea of being raised and groomed by society in such a way that I'm not supposed to show weakness or to cry or to hurt or feel scared or want to be held or cuddled or cry on somebody's shoulder, I think that causes unspeakable harm and damage to men themselves. And so part of my being so vocal and outspoken about this is, is man, you're hurting, there's no way you can't be hurting if those are the messages that you're getting. And I desire worlds for you in which you are released from the burdens that are placed on you. I wish for you to feel loved and held and safe to cry to. There's a version of us that always ever means a child to and so to make space for this little boy and all scared little girl on all of us. And so that's actually my hope is that ultimately there's that it's in service to men themselves. The point is that this work serves all of us like feminism is something that should be helping men and movements for men should be helping women like because these are so fluid and they're so inter-dynamic and interdependent that there's a way it's not like feminism is going to fix issues that are across the board because you're still gonna have men and you're gonna have this dynamic and vice versa. So we need to kind of all be getting on board and all be supportive of each other and in service to one another.
SPENCER: Sasha before we wrap up, I want to make sure you have time to talk about some of what you're doing now and how people can support your work if they're interested.
SASHA: Yeah, so my work is pretty encompassing. I mean, one of my focuses, actually, because of everything I just said is actually men's work. So I work specifically with men to try to uncouple and untangle some of these kind of webs and sort of the shackles of patriarchy and society's expectations of them and give them room to show up in a very different way. And that includes a very masculine way, but also more integrated way. So men's work is something I do that I love to do that I'm available for viewing. But also, like I said, I run these these corporate events. And we talked about some very good stuff today. But that's not so much how the events go. Anything, I take an approach that sometimes people think, Oh, you do mental health work, that must be so tough. And on the one hand, it's like, I guess, but on the other hand, it's not because I have so much fun doing it. To me, this is the most nourishing, rewarding work anyone could possibly do. And I take an approach in spaces where it's not like we sit around and hold hands crying about how sad things are. It's a games based approach. It's really about like fun and levity and joy. And so, yeah, you can hire me to come into your workspace. And essentially, we be playing games to make people feel more connected, more welcome, more able to build emotional resiliency. And, yeah, this is all part of what I do. And that's also something that I highlighted to you that I wanted to recap, like, why are we having conversations like this? Why are we talking about difficult things, the ultimate point is, this isn't to be defeatist, or lament how bad the world is, it's that we have so much power to do so much, but we can't do any of it if we aren't aware. And if we don't know, and if we aren't trying to. So part of this I think we've told your audience about a lot of aspects that they might not be aware of, and how they can be in the world differently. And that's the beautiful part of this, like, this is all stuff like if you're in a work environment, where people are stressed and unhappy and feel disconnected from each other, like, we can come in there and like, bring some levity, bring some joy, and also bring a way to feel safer talking about some real shit. That's really what it's all about. And I do you have a policy where no one is turned away for lack of funds. So, I mean, there's so many ways to support financial support. And donating is fantastic in one way. Huge difference.
SPENCER: We'll put your Venmo PayPal links in the show notes, if any wants to support you that way.
SASHA: Yeah, but there's also a ton of other ways we have something called the caring pledge. And it's a pledge that we're asking for companies to sign to make mental health events a normal part of their work week by 2025. You can sign the pledge, you can sponsor an event, there's just a million ways you can also work with me one-on-one or bring me into your company. Yeah. Or you can just talk to me for no reason at all other than to say hi, I would totally welcome that. And you'll find my contact information for that as well.
SPENCER: Thanks so much for coming on the show. This was a really great conversation. Very informative.
SASHA: Yeah, I mean, you're doing such important work, Spencer. And I know that sometimes there's a backlash for that. And I'm here to say that the fact that you're showing up anyway, means everything. And for the times when that happens, there are so many other people who are really grateful and appreciative and for whom it means a lot. So keep trying and thank you so much.
JOSH: A listener wrote in and said that they worried that the rationalist movement dismisses or attacks degrowth without fairly engaging in the arguments for and against it. So what is your understanding of what degrowth is? And what's your opinion about it?
SPENCER: So I'm certainly not an expert in degrowth. But my understanding is it's this idea that instead of aiming for trying to maximize economic growth in society, and viewing economic growth is like one of the main objectives that we should have. It's saying that actually, economic growth is not sustainable. And it's not the thing that we should be mainly aiming for. My perspective on this is that what we should really care about is the well-being of conscious beings like to me that is what's really important if we're trying to make society good, what we should make it good for people and animals. However, historically, economic growth has been a very, very useful force in terms Just making society better, it's not guaranteed that will always be the case. You know, you can have situations where economic growth actually makes things worse. You know, you can imagine situations where, for example, you have extreme pollution or extreme climate change or dangerous AI technology or nuclear weapons or whatever, you know, economic growth is not always linked to prosperity. However, historically, if we look back, we see that a lot of the poverty that was alleviated in the world did come about due to economic growth. So I think while economic growth is a mixed bag, I think there's a lot to be said for economic growth, improving human wellbeing.
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