There's an English expression "Don't get your knickers in a twist." which sounds hilarious and somewhat obscure to foreigners but is actually rather sexist and patronising. It means "don't get upset" or "don't get hysterical". It is most often used by men and addressed to women (presumably because men don't wear knickers - at least not their own - and I can't picture David Beckham acting hysterical... can you?).
And anyway, how do you get your knickers in a twist? I've put them on back to front before (or if it's a thong you can end up putting your foot through the waistband bit and end up slightly off kilter...) but that's easily fixed. I've also strangled my nether regions by wearing the wrong type of knickers to yoga (avoid lace, avoid thongs, avoid anything that rises... stick to boy pants... or stick to Pilates) but I've never ended up with a twist.
What kind of weird lingerie game of twister does it involve? Do you put them on with the proverbial twist already there or does the twist mysteriously happen after you put them on? And if so - how? And how does the twist trigger the hysterics?
You see, once you started digging under the surface, it stops making any kind of sense. You can't actually get your knickers in a twist. And knickers and hysterics are in no way related. So what does that leave you with? A sexist remark that reinforces the notion put forward by Freud and his accolytes that women are hysterical creatures.
I'm not one of them. Don't smirk! I may be high strung. I may have a quick temper. I may not suffer fools gladly. I can speak very loudly... I can get cranky... but these I attribute to my cultural background and Meditarrenean upbringing (combined with being a sixteenth Irish). Are you still smirking?
Define hysterical. I said, define hysterical! If by hysterical you mean: passionate and excitable, then count me in. Because life without passion or excitement is like... your local post office (minus the occasional "postal" employee). And who wants that?
So next time you hear someone using that expression, or you find yourself on the cusp of using it yourself (especially - horror of horrors- if you are a woman) stop and think: what am I commenting on? Is it something positive or something negative? And why is it bothering me?
The truth is, if someone is truly being hysterical - the best cure is a good slap. Or two.