Philip Hammond accused of sexism after telling Labour MP not to be 'hysterical'

The word hysteria has a gendered history

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 01 March 2017 15:08
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British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond arrives for the weekly meeting of the cabinet at 10 Downing Street in central London
British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond arrives for the weekly meeting of the cabinet at 10 Downing Street in central London

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been accused of sexism after telling a woman Labour MP not to be “hysterical”.

Mary Creagh asked Philip Hammond about the effect of Brexit on British businesses with bases in Ireland.

Labour MPs heckled Mr Hammond after he urged Ms Creagh “not to be hysterical about these things”.

Ms Creagh, who represents Wakefield, raised a point of order with the Speaker John Bercow following the episode.

“In response to my recent Treasury question, the Chancellor of the Exchequer accused me of being hysterical.

“Can we have a ruling from you as to whether this sort of sexist language used to diminish women who make a perfectly reasonable point - that is the sort of language that would not be used had I been man.

“My question on the registration of companies in Ireland had nothing to do with the condition of my womb travelling to my head, as is the traditional hysterics rhetoric.

“I expect that sort of language from the sketch writers of the Daily Mail, not from the Chancellor of the Exchequer.”

Labour MP Mary Creagh

Mr Hammond replied: “I did not, of course, accuse (Ms Creagh) of being hysterical - I urged her not to be hysterical.

“If my comments have caused (Ms Creagh) any offence, I of course withdraw them unreservedly.”

Mr Bercow said that there was “difference between order and taste” and said that “people will have their own view about taste”.

The word hysteria derived from the Greek word for uterus, hystera. In previous centuries hysteria was a common medical diagnosis applied to women.

Now widely discredited, its symptoms supposedly included irritability or a tendency to cause trouble

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