On the first day of the hearings, Sen. Benjamin Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, called the protesters’ actions “hysteria.” He referred to Kavanaugh’s critics as “deranged.” In this, he played into a long, tired history.
It’s the history of a medical community that saw the uterus as the origin of diseases. It’s the history of suffragettes told that they had a mental disorder. It’s a history captured by the words of 19th century French physician August Fabre: “Every woman carries with her the seeds of hysteria.”
Kavanaugh’s hearing made the irony in this history all too clear. Women were dragged from the hearing room shouting, their unruliness deemed a threat, while Kavanaugh defended a judicial career spent arguably expanding the rights of gun owners. Female rage is policed while the tools of male rage are carefully justified.