Difficult women have long been pathologised as crazy. Hysteria was the standard diagnosis applied by male doctors who couldn’t work out what was wrong when the fairer sex behaved in ways that deviated from their idealised feminine norm. Of course, the norm was defined as being male, and by comparison women were fundamentally unstable, a problem that manifested as hysteria.
Women were weaker than men – it was their vaginas and uteruses that were the problem. The (male) medical gaze (mis)diagnosed, locked up, electrocuted and medicated women by way of treatments to relieve the symptoms of female existence until women were compliant. Making women crazy was a means by which to regulate and control – the message from doctors was in essence, don’t be a pussy.
Batsh*t is a solo show performed by Leah Shelton and directed by Ursula Martinez as part of Melbourne Fringe. The show explores what was at the root of women’s distress, how the pressures of women’s lives and their limited choices may have often led to their misery.
A disturbing, funny, physical interrogation of female madness and a tribute to Shelton’s grandmother, Gwen. Batsh*t is a wild ride worth a visit, and don’t forget your pussy hat.
Batsh*t is on at Northcote Town Hall Arts Centre as part of Melbourne Fringe from 5 – 15 October.