Advertising by Gaslight

Sometimes I feel like advertising resembles nothing so much as a gaslit spouse.

Clients were always a bit like the staid, repressed man who had, in advertising, found a flighty, fun girlfriend (swap the genders if you like. I’m going to go through a little metaphorical non-cis trans exploration. Feel free to join me).

Initially Mr. Client was quite taken with Ms. Advertising. Deep down he was a little uncomfortable with her spirited ways, but he also felt that he should try to loosen up a little, and be more receptive to fresh perspectives, occasional irresponsibility, and maybe a little risk. After all, lots of Mr. Client’s friends seemed to think Ms. Advertising was fun, and her sassy ways managed to draw other people to Mr. Client.

So they got married. But Mr. Client was always a bit suspicious of his new wife. Why was she spending all that money? Did she really need to go abroad on business? And why was she having so much fun without him?

Initially Mr. Client just accepted that this was the way she was, and if he wanted to be married to such a footloose and fancy-free lady, he’d have to take the little bits of insecurity that came with it.

But then those little bits of insecurity started to get under his skin. Mrs. Advertising wasn’t always great fun. She could sometimes be little boring, leaving Mr. Client wondering if those feelings of unease were really worth it.

And then there was the money. Surely Mrs. Advertising could get by without dropping so much cash all over the place. It was time to rein that shit in.

So Mr. Client started checking his wife’s messages, going through the bank statements with a magnifying glass, and questioning every little trip, drink and taxi ride.

And in response Mrs. Advertising started to worry. Was Mr. Client about to leave her? Like any gaslit spouse, she started to change her behaviour. Instead of free-spirited nonchalance, she started to slip into insecure self-questioning. Was she really doing everything possible to please her man? Maybe she was spending too much, taking her husband for granted and having too much fun. He was paying all the bills and putting bread on the table. Was she doing enough in return?

So she started dressing more demurely, seeing less of her friends, and tightening the purse strings. She could be a good little girl, then Mr. Client would stop questioning her and everything at home would be happier.

But as we all know, gaslighting is a slippery slope. Mr. Client started using data to really check up on his spouse. When was she coming home? Was it later than last week? Why? What was she up to? He would confront her with reams of information, tracking her every move, questioning every penny.

A few years of that and Mrs. Advertising was under the thumb: spied on and broken, not making a single move without asking for permission at least twice.

So Mr. Client finally got what he wanted: a supplicant, submissive and obedient other half, who was 100% accountable, 99.9% dull and really fucking miserable..

“He treats me so well. He takes care of me. Sometimes I let my hair down a little, but then he brings me right back down to Earth, and makes sure I behave properly next time. I’m so lucky to have him.’

If you’ve been gaslit by your spouse just call 0800-FUCK-THIS-SHIT, tell him you won’t take this crap anymore, and for the sake of both of you, speak up, ask questions and wear your favourite goddamn heels whenever the fuck you feel like it.