Hepeating: When a Man Takes Credit for What a Woman Has Already Said | Company
With 58,000 retweets and over 184,000 likes, Nicole Gugliucci’s tweet from 2017 is still going strong. “My friends invented a word: say again“, announced the American professor of astronomy and physics. Repeat happens, she added, “when a woman suggests an idea and it’s ignored, but a man says [the] same thing and everyone loves it. As a recent article in The Guardian observe, the term repeating is “just the latest in the growing list of terms for sexist male behavior, a glossary that began with mansplaining.”
My friends invented a word: hepeated. ‘Cause when a woman suggests an idea and it’s ignored, but a man says the same thing and everyone likes it
— Professor Nicole Gugliucci is very tired (@NoisyAstronomer) September 22, 2017
The term mansplaining was chosen in 2010 as one of the The New York Times word of the year due to its ubiquity on the internet, where it had become – and remains – a popular shorthand to describe when a man explains something to a woman she already knows in a condescending or paternalistic tone, it’s that is, as if she didn’t or couldn’t already know. In his 2014 essay Men explain things to me, Rebecca Solnit detailed the phenomenon in more detail, saying that “every woman knows what I’m talking about”. “It’s arrogance that makes it difficult, sometimes, for any woman in any field; it is what prevents women from speaking their minds and being heard when they dare to do so; one that plunges young women into silence by signaling to them, in the same way as street harassment does, that it is not their world,” writes Solnit.
Certainly, of mansplainingthe glossary has been expanded to include interruption —the male habit of unnecessarily interrupting a woman while she is speaking—; as good as manologist, male monologue, which is when a man lectures a woman or a group of women simply to expound on his vast knowledge of something; and spread of man, referring to when a man sits with his legs wide open in public spaces. There is also, for example, bropropriationthe appropriation of women’s ideas by men (bros).
Beyond the often entertaining use of these words in online debate, the habits they describe, in which men dominate discursive and physical space, also have a scientific evidence base. A 2021 Stanford University study investigated gender discrimination in economics seminars at 33 US institutions, analyzing 468 of them across the country. The results showed that men interrupt women more often than other men; men also ask women more questions at the end of a presentation or speech than men, with the style of these questions tending to be more hostile or paternalistic.
Sandra Ramirez (pseudonym), 27, tells EL PAÍS about a male colleague whose behavior is a perfect demonstration of repeating. In meetings, says Ramirez, this colleague “always [intervenes] five minutes after me,” she said. He does this to add nothing useful to the discussion, Ramirez notes. Instead, she says, it’s “repeating what I said,” just in a “more convoluted” way. As an example, Ramirez says she might say something like “Let’s do some illustrations for International Women’s Day.” Shortly after, her male colleague chimed in: “We should do a series of illustrations to commemorate International Women’s Day. It’s an important date, and with these images to mark the day, users can share them. On more than one occasion, Ramirez says, she pointed out to her colleague that she had come up with the same idea before. However, it seems that he doesn’t want to hear her, because she tells EL PAÍS that he is going to procrastinate, saying for example: “I didn’t hear you”,… and do the same thing again to the next meeting.
Isabel Sanz (pseudonym), a 37-year-old consultant, says she sees an economic case for reducing repeating and its associated ills: A problem will be presented at a meeting, Sanz says, and she will come up with a workable solution. “Half an hour later”, in the discussion, she notes, a male colleague “says exactly the same thing”, and they are listened to. “We are three consultants and we charge 500 euros per day to our clients,” explains Sanz. So “if half an hour is wasted [because one of us is not listening]is an hour and a half wasted on consulting fees, Sanz thinks. Communication agency staff member Carlota Navarro (pseudonym) says that as a woman in a creative profession, it is typical to live, repeating, and it’s like. Navarro, 32, says she might start the idea, but “the one who finishes it is a man,” and so, “in the end, it comes across as her idea, and it gets recognition, and you feel a little indignant. It’s worse than just a moment of anger, though. Repeat and mansplaining “takes precedence over your perception” to the point that the diminished woman in the discourse wonders: “was this idea really mine? Do I have the right to defend him or will I pass for a bad colleague? All of this turns, says Navarro, into a defensive posture during work meetings.
When President Obama took office, wrote journalist Juliet Eilperin in the Washington Post, “two-thirds of his top advisers were men.” “Women complained about having to force their way into important meetings,” and even then they could still be ignored. Women leaders used an “amplification” strategy; “when a woman has raised a key point” in White House meetings, “other women have repeated it, giving credit to its original author.” “It forced the men in the room to acknowledge the contribution and denied them the opportunity to claim the idea as their own.” All it took? More women in the same meeting room.