Is there anyone who ever remembers changing their mind from the paint on a sign?
Is there anyone who really recalls ever breaking rank at all
for something someone yelled real loud one time?
John Mayer, Belief

So, in the daily newsletter that is sent to my inbox at work every morning, there was an article featured from the National Post written by columnist Barbara Kay:

Barbara Kay on hysterical feminists overreacting to the Unborn Victims of Crime Act

"The word “hysteria” has its root in the Greek word for uterus. It was coined by Hippocrates as a medical condition peculiar to women.

Understood as irrational emotional flailing about whenever public discussion touches on a woman’s fruitful uterus, Hippocrates’s neologism is spot on. Try to say out loud in this country that what’s in a woman’s pregnant belly is a human being, not a blob of tissue, and hysteria emerges in three interesting variations. One is the irrational impulse to ban discussion of an abortion law altogether, as we saw at York University on March 5, when a debate was summarily cancelled on the grounds that the issue was settled. Of course, that is not true, as Tuesday’s Post editorial, “The abortion debate isn’t over,” reminds us."

a) the university didn't cancel it on the grounds that the issue was settled. the debate was cancelled on the grounds that, in the past, the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR) had a history of comparing abortion to genocide, touting graphic displays "in full colour of fabricated fetuses alongside people dying in the Holocaust and also pictures of people being lynched", reports york student centre executive kelly holloway. the event, in the end, was cancelled on the grounds that the centre had a responsibility to protect students from speech it viewed as discrimination or harassment on its student-funded space. “just like we would not sanction the use of student space to challenge whether black students should be able to attend university, or whether homosexuality should be illegal, we would not sanction this particular debate over whether or not women should be able to have a choice concerning their own bodies.” the cancellation was further discussed on cbc’s radio show “sounds like canada” on it’s march 6th broadcast.

b) barbara kay's languaging within this article is incredibly inflammatory. while i understand that the point of an opinion piece is to express opinion, the calling opponents of bill c-484 "hysterical feminists" is problematic in two ways. firstly, the abortion debate has always been a highly charged one, chock full of moral and ethical implications. because of this, rational and objective aren't exactly the first-choice adjectives to describe most reactions to it.

as was so astutely pointed out in one of the comments; "it's odd how Ms. Kay criticizes "disgusting epithets" and "personal attack[s]" in one sentence, then proceeds to refer to anyone who happens to disagree with her as "emotional[ly] flailing," "noisy," "not exactly rational," "furious," "hysterical," "irrational," or "conspiracy-theorizing" in the next. She criticizes "scare mongering," but refers to a dissenting opinion as a "supposed...'argument'," adding insult to injury by following a dismissive, unnecessary adjective (i.e., "so-called," "alleged," etc.) with pejorative quotation marks. By my standards, that's eight ad hominem attacks, all in the space of a few short paragraphs. Pots really aren't in position to question the colour of kettles."

thank you!

it's funny how a woman's reaction to something is construed completely differently from a man's. originally, the condition 'hysteria' was obviously a highly gendered "disorder", one of unmanageable fear and emotional excesses. (i'm not going to get into the sociological implications of this - it's a story for another day). as an obviously feminized, socially and medically outdated "disorder", kay applies it to any opponent of the bill - in essence, claiming and discrediting any opposing reaction as obviously over-emotional and hysterical.

i'd hazard a guess that by this same measure, women who are assertive (or god forbid, even aggressive) in going after and achieving their goals are considered something other than assertive, positive role models as well.

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