Experiences from Being Made Invisible as a Master Suppression Technique

Some people say that they have never experienced the master suppression techniques. Unfortunately I have 🙁 , and this blog post will be my experiences of “Making invisible”.

I really get so frustrated when “Making invisible” happens, and I have not yet found a way to deal with the situation except for my non-constructive “passive” way of reacting. That is: I am boiling with anger inside, but I don’t tell the person who just completely ignored me, or left me out when mentioning the group or context, and I just stay passive with the feeling of being an impostor. Yesterday this happened again, and in such an alarmingly visible way that I was angry several hours. Hmm. Or the whole evening…

One definition of Making invisible from this web page on master suppression techniques is:

1. Making invisible means to marginalise or exclude a person. For instance, ignoring a person’s point of view and then agreeing when someone else says the same thing. Or that when a person speaks, others start to whisper to their neighbours, browse through papers, go to the toilet, or turn their attention to their mobile phones. Body language can indicate that the person speaking is considered “insignificant”. Not only an individual’s, but an entire group’s interests or experiences can be effectively rendered “invisible”.

My husband Mats Daniels is a successful and very well recognized researcher in computer science education. He is indeed a fantastic person, and we have a very good collaboration. We have worked together for fifteen years, and we have numerous grants, publications and activities in our CV:s that are in common and that we have worked with together.  Sometimes he has been the driver of things, and sometimes it is me. Some of the ideas come from him, and other ideas come from me. Together we are very creative and have lots of fun ideas and many publications and projects.

However, somehow people tend to think that our success stories are mostly the doing of my husband and not me. Some people simply do not see my contribution when I collaborate with my husband, and they see me as dependent on him. However, they have no problems in seeing his contribution! They seem to think that he does all the work, and that I am just tagging along?

One such example is when we were called on stage on a conference with the words:

“We welcome Mats Daniels and his beautiful wife”

So what happened to my identity here? Who I am? I was the beautiful wife, and not a researcher  or professional. We have at least twenty publications together, and they know that work together. My husband tried to laugh about the whole situation, saying that no one would call him “beautiful” – but he also sees the problems.

Yesterday it happened again that someone mentioned our work and left my name out completely. As if my contribution was worth nothing, and my husband is the important person. Which, by the way, I have also experienced in another situation when we were in Madrid. We were sitting around a table talking, and a person stands up and says to the person sitting next to me:

Perhaps we should change seats so that you get to sit next to the important people?

What happened next was that the person sitting next to me stood up and changed seats, so that he would sit closer to the other “more important” people in the group.

I wish I could say that I reacted in some way when this happened, or that someone else reacted. But no, no one said anything and we continued talking about other things. Some people looked a bit surprised, but silently accepted that we would rearrange the group.

Have you been in the same situation? Do you have any tips on how to handle this situation?