There’s Got to Be a Word for It

What 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?


K. A. Laity is a fiction writer as well as a scholar, writing academic essays, novels, plays, humor and journalism on popular culture. She has been a Fulbright scholar at the National University of Ireland Galway and a columnist on women and technology. Find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.