White man on CNN says Sen. Kamala Harris was "hysterical" during Jeff Sessions hearing

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., reacts during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on Wednesday.
Source: Alex Brandon/AP
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., reacts during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on Wednesday.
Source: Alex Brandon/AP

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) gave Attorney General Jeff Sessions the grilling of a lifetime Tuesday when she brought her knack for dogged, meticulous cross-examination to bear at Sessions' Russia hearing.

But on CNN that evening, former Donald Trump campaign spokesman-turned-pundit Jason Miller had another word to describe Harris' conduct: "hysterical."

"I think she was hysterical," Miller said on an almost entirely male panel of political pundits. "From my perspective, my, I would say objective, perspective, I mean it was — it didn't seem like there was any effort to try to get to a real question or get to the bottom of it. She was purely out there to shout down."

The laughable "objectivity" of a white, male, conservative Trump supporter notwithstanding, the segment grew increasingly tense as analyst Kirsten Powers — one of two women on the seven-person panel — challenged Miller on the sexist undertones of his "hysteria" allegations.

"She was dogged, there's no question, but I wouldn't say she was any more dogged than [Sen.] Ron Wyden was, would you?" Powers asked Miller, referring to another senator who questioned Sessions.

Miller replied, "I don't think that Sen. Wyden was really trying to get to the bottom of answers either. I think he was trying to drive a partisan —"

"But he wasn't hysterical and she was," Powers said. "OK, I just wanted to clear that up. Got it."

You can watch some of the exchange between Harris and Sessions here:

Source: YouTube

The term "hysteria" originated as a descriptor for symptoms of psychological and physical distress affecting women, typically related to maladies of the womb. It was considered an almost exclusively female ailment. Its symptoms were so wide-ranging as to render the term almost totally meaningless except as a way to pathologize women's behavior, but they often included nervousness, irritability, so-called "modification of character" and even seizures.

The term "hysterical" has since been described by doctors as "pejorative" due to its sexism, and has fallen largely out of favor in medical discourse. At one point in history, marriage and sex with men were considered legitimate treatments for its symptoms in women.

Yet Jeffrey Lord, another conservative panelist on CNN with Miller and Powers on Tuesday, decided to get cute about it (read: ahistorical and willfully ignorant).

"Hysteria is a neutral quality," Lord said.

"And yet, it's just women that usually are called hysterical," Powers said in response.

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Zak Cheney Rice

Zak is a Senior Staff Writer at Mic.

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