There’s Got to Be a Word for It

meme2What do you call it when a woman expresses an idea and is shot down, only to have a man express essentially the same idea and have it broadly embraced?

It’s an experience many women I know have had repeatedly. In my professional life, especially, it’s been the cause of much teeth gnashing. (Less assertive men know the experience as well.) “It happens with jokes too,” said a friend of mine. “You give a witty response; nobody hears it. Two minutes later a man/more glamorous person cracks the same response, gets a big laugh from all present. Should we just talk louder?”

I don’t know if talking louder helps, because of course then we’re dismissed as “shrill” or some other variety of “straw-feminist” cliché.

So there’s got to be a word for it—but what? My pal, writer Maura McHugh, suggested “Manpproval? Manappropriation?” While I like that analogue to mansplaining, I think we need something more metaphorical that gets at the unfairness we instantly feel at having our thunder stolen. I’m trying to think of a film that captures this in as instantly recognizable a way as “gaslighting” (from Gaslight), but I can’t think of the right single-word title.

A couple of male friends had further suggestions: Classics scholar Dan Curley suggested “manapropism,” while media blogger Todd Mason suggested “manslation” or “dicktation.”

What do you think? Have you experienced this phenomenon? What do you call it?


  1. The echo!

  2. uhm, how about sexism?

  3. I don’t think “dicktation” would be a good word in this case because it is cissexist.

    • Graeme Smith says:

      Well, yeah, but do you feel like trans* dudes suffer from the same syndrome? I’m just curious; I feel like there’s more awareness of privilege among those who haven’t always had it… Do you think that’s erroneous or anecdotal? I’m curious to hear your thoughts, Hayley.

  4. Wow. I was just talking about this the other day…Here’s my contribution:

    More where that came from 🙂

  5. a bad genderlender

  6. tookitoutamymouth

  7. negative magnetism

  8. a manhook

  9. I think that the term should be one that is gender neutral, as this is something that happens to people across the gender spectrum by people across the gender spectrum. Certainly, there are probably more men than women who do this, but I know many women who do it as well. One of the worst offenders I know is a gay dude… so, yeah… it’s not just a hetero-male thing.

    I like the suggestion by Lisa above: Thunderswipe

  10. Mansurping?

  11. Graeme Smith says:

    A friend of mine came up with a good one: se-MAN-tics.

  12. Male-appropriate – from to appropriate, or to take something away for one’s own use…!

  13. Neverland says:

    I would say that probably it wasn’t the same idea in the end or she was not able to deliver it in a shape that was understandable by everyone else around. I would also say that some women spend an incredible amount of time complaining about how they are discriminated because of their gender instead of putting more effort into actually getting better at what they do. I would also say that I work in a field where there are mostly guys around and after all these years I still believe that is not because we women get discriminated, but because we are not interested enough. How is this positive discrimination that you’ve so happily been advertising less sexist than the one you point out at so outraged? If you start with the assumption that you should be seen as an equal by your peers, why do you ask for special treatment and sympathy for your condition? You poor thing….

    • The fact that you haven’t experienced it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

    • Colleen Johnson says:

      The word took off like wildfire. There is a reason for that. Are you really going to deny the bullseye effect of the word? When women engage in talking over and around men, they are called ball breakers and bitches and pushy. Mansplaining seems a far gentler, less aggressive word to me. And it really is not a feminist word – women who are social conservatives recognize its meaning as well. You really don’t think the congressional panel on birth control isn’t a good example of mansplaining? Thank God our vocabulary now contains a word to sum up the attitutude that led to the formation of that panel.

  14. I like “Ablocution”:

    “ab,” the Latin prefix for “away from”
    “locution,” the Latin for a particular form of expression.

    “Androablocution” would be even more accurate, adding the prefix for male, but would be an unwieldy mouthful.

  15. plagiarismo

  16. wackastole

  17. dicklouder

  18. “What’s that, Lassie?”

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