Hey, guys! It's me, Candice.
First things first, it's time I give everyone a little bit of a history lesson. We've all heard the word "hysterical," right? Right. A close cousin of the word "crazy," the one we usually use to describe the girl hyperventilating in the corner of the party after she saw her boyfriend making out with someone else.
Well, there's a deeply historical reason why we rarely use it to describe a guy who is feeling a little extra emotional. It turns out "hysteria" comes from the Greek word meaning "uterus." Beyond that, "hysteria" was the first mental disorder attributed to women.
It was finally taken out of the DSM-III manual in 1980. But, before then, hysteria was commonly used for centuries to describe people, mostly women, who experienced its symptoms.
What were some of these "symptoms," you ask? Well, they included nervousness; sexual desire; erotic fantasy; excessive vaginal lubrication; faintness; insomnia; irritability; loss of appetite for food and sex and finally, a "tendency to cause trouble."
So, yeah, basically being a human who dared to feel anything would mark you as "hysterical."
Needless to say, in this day and age, the word is extremely offensive. Especially when it's used against a woman by a man. It basically implies that, because she dared to be a human being with thoughts and feelings and desires, she is insane. And is, thus, to be dismissed.
Now that we've got some context, let's jump right into this story. This past Monday, during an episode of Australia's current affairs panel show "Q&A," words were exchanged between a couple of panel members that left viewers shocked and unsettled.
In the episode, an audience member asked how panel members believed that the media could help change cultural norms surrounding domestic violence.
The man asking the question, Tarang Chawla, had an especially personal connection to the question as his own sister was murdered by her partner in a brutal domestic violence incident at only 23 years old.
In his question, Chawla specifically referred to some comments made by two Australian sports media personalities, Eddie McGuire and Sam Newman. In the June incident McGuire had made a not-so-tasteful "joke" about drowning female sports journalist, Caroline Wilson. Newman involved himself by defending his friend's comments days after they were made.
Panelist and radio host, Steve Price, was the first to respond to the question by explaining his belief that "far too much" was made out of the incident. He believed that, when looked at in context, you could see that it was nothing more than "a bunch of blokes laughing about things they shouldn't have laughed about."
Female panelist, Van Badham, didn't quite see eye to eye with Price on the matter as she explained:
What you see as jokes made by a bunch of blokes, you know, from the position of being one of those blokes who has probably in on some of those jokes, I see as a woman who is part of a social world where violence is—
Before she could finish her thought, Price interrupted, "I hope you're not suggesting I was part of those jokes. Don't tar me with their brush. Please. Don't tar me with their brush."
She came back trying to explain again what she was trying to say when he finally made an attempt to dismiss her with the same line used to dismiss women for centuries, "I think you're just being hysterical."
Yep, he called a woman hysterical. In a conversation about domestic violence.
Luckily, she had a sense of humor about the whole thing as she retorted, "It's probably just my ovaries making me do it, Steve."
Watch the whole exchange here and cringe for yourself:
How will politicians & media play a better role in shifting the language of VAW? @StevePriceMedia @vanbadham #QandA https://t.co/74wqYGM9jA — ABC Q&A (@QandA) July 11, 2016