A prominent Vancouverite and mother active in advocacy efforts has joined forces with a politically active Canadian clothing company to tackle sexist language used during debates about COVID-19 in British Columbia.
Former news anchor Tamara Taggart is collaborating with Calgary-based clothing company Madame Premier, which makes limited edition fundraising shirts, to launch a capsule collection that addresses this issue. The collection includes shirts in black or white and a tote bag, available at the Madame Premier website.
In an interview with News 1130, Taggart said that she heard the term hysterical being used during B.C. COVID-19 briefings to describe concerns about health measures and safety in schools.
Accordingly, the shirt proudly states Hysterical Woman in a heavy metal font.
Madame Premier founder Sarah Elder-Chamanara explained that the effort aims to reclaim the term, a strategy employed by many minorities to defuse and neutralize slurs used against them, like how LGBT communities reclaimed the terms dyke and queer for themselves by using them for organizations.
The term has a long discriminatory history of being used to undermine and dismiss opinions and points made by women for a few centuries (as well as by LGBT people in recent decades) and as a means to control, suppress, and disempower women.
In fact, female hysteria was once a medical diagnosis in Europe and North America used for women exhibiting mental-health symptoms such as anxiety or nervousness, insomnia, irritability, expression of or loss of sexual desire, and more.
More positive news is that 30 percent of net proceeds from these shirts will be donated to Vancouver’s Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS).
This cause has been particularly timely as during the pandemic, many women and children have suffered from having to remain at home with physically, psychologically, or emotionally abusive partners, parents, or other family members.
BWSS, founded in 1979, offers education, advocacy, and support services for all women, with the goal of eliminating violence and to promote equality for all women.
Last week, Taggart posted a photo of herself wearing a shirt that says Hysterical Mother and delved into some of the etymology of the term.