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Kirsten Powers shut down a colleague who called Kamala Harris 'hysterical.'

The clip has gone viral — and for really good reason.

Kirsten Powers shut down a colleague who called Kamala Harris 'hysterical.'

Sen. Kamala Harris went into the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on June 13, 2017 with a list of hard-hitting questions for Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Though Sessions did what he could to dodge them, Harris was dogged in her pursuit of the truth.

Anyone who tuned in to CNN later that night for coverage of the hearing heard a slightly different analysis, including one word in particular that stood out: "hysterical."


USA Today's Kirsten Powers took issue with former Trump advisor Jason Miller's description of Harris's behavior and asked him to explain why he thought Harris was being any more "hysterical" than her male counterparts.

"I think calling her hysterical is probably a little gendered," Powers told him, when he couldn't give an explanation.

Before Powers had even finished her statement, panelist Jeffrey Lord interrupted to insist "hysteria is a neutral quality."

"It's just women who are usually called hysterical," Powers responded.

And she's right.

As a concept, "hysteria" can be traced back to an ancient Greek belief that connects excessive emotion to the uterus. Seriously.

British scholar Helen King traces the term back to Hippocrates. While that usage faded, "hysteria" returned during the Victorian era and has been used as an excuse to dismiss women as being uncontrollable, irrational bundles of emotion ever since.

And although associated with witch trials and the anti-suffragist movement, hysteria also helped lead to the invention of the vibrator — so, silver linings, I suppose.

And while it's no longer solely used to describe women, a simple keyword search on Google Books of all English books published between 1800 and 2000 show the descriptor is applied to women on a much more regular basis than men.

Image via Google Books Ngram Viewer.

Add in the fact that there's no conclusive evidence that women are any more "emotional" than men, and you see where the problem is with singling Harris out specifically as being the "hysterical" one in that hearing.

In the context of the hearing, if you were to label anyone "hysterical," the most appropriate recipient would probably be a visibly flustered Sessions, who at one point talked about how Harris' questions made him feel nervous.

GIF from Washington Post/YouTube.

Too often, "hysteria" is still used to dismiss strong women with opinions and drive.

In Miller's case, whatever point he had in trying to dismiss Harris' questioning was rendered moot by a sloppy choice of words that reflected his own sexism.

He might claim that his perspective was "objective" in ways that Powers' analysis wasn't (the implication being that Powers isn't capable of seeing things rationally); but the moment he called Harris "hysterical," he betrayed his own subconscious fear of — and bias against — strong and opinionated women.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.