Hysteria – exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion or excitement.
I am unsure what prompted me to look up the definition of this term, perhaps its ubiquitous usage levelled by (often) female columnists in the popular press at some women who dared form part of the collective that became #metoo. Or, that at some level I registered the same word is rarely used in the same sentence as men. Maybe it was the number of column inches allocated to voices, suggesting strongly that women have reached parity with men are laundering their own unrelated grievances under slurs of sexual harassment safe in the knowledge that the well, hysterical, atmosphere fomented by #metoo, a ‘win’ is all but assured.For a nation for whom the concept of fair play is among its proudest exports, odd we find ourselves in an era where the inconceivable becomes the lived reality: world leaders happily forgiven by electorates looking the other way for behaviours that could charitably refer to as unstatesmanlike; one kilometre from where the first woman ever was voted into parliament, The President Clubs charity ball, an undercover FT reporter’s findings were enough to make your average male adolescent blush. In this context, we may do well ask has equality come far enough?
Too far it would seem….
In mediapolis we understand that backlashes are inevitable. That it would be given voice from the academic, legal and journalist profession who would happily chime that the discussions on women’s rights are redundant and the real enemies are University Arts and Corporate HR departments. More troubling is the dismissal that conclusions from D&I data as academically flawed, and simply an extension of cultural Marxism infecting all determined to undermine traditional society. Further, one among their number claimed ‘studies show’ a woman’s natural habitat is where she can nurture and therefore is best suited to the home or caring professions. And any claim to be excluded from male-dominated structures are considered as little more than the dialled up axe-grinding of feminist fairytales. As proof one academic laboured long to prove that countries with a long history of equality eg Sweden, women will revert to nursing or other caring professions rather than traditional male roles. The man explained, women actively choose lower-paid, higher risk jobs despite having access to higher-paying alternatives, you see. Never mind that an Italian female entrepreneur is likely to receive less favourable lending rates than her male counterpart even though females enjoy a lesser default rate than their male counterparts; that board appointments in the UK are at 37%; that sexual harassment in the UK workplace is cited by half the female workforce. A stat too put down many as women have lost their sense of humour.
As we look to a post-Brexit era, where women rights hard-won, are by no means to be, perhaps time is owing to look in the mirror and remind ourselves what is good for individuals is ultimately good for all of society.
The etymology of hysteria reveals a peculiarly male view of women made all the more disturbing by its one-time cure. Whatever shape women’s right take the post, Brexit, perhaps an era of more nuanced use of language is due.
By: Cian Loughnane