It’s a familiar situation. A girl tells a joke or pitches a story, and receives practically nonexistent reception. Perhaps it wasn’t the right time for the delivery, she figures, or it was delivered to the wrong group of people. It is humiliating, but it tends to happen – after all, it can be difficult to read a room quickly enough to deliver replies off of the top of the head.
What, though, is even more common and humiliating? Having the same exact joke repeated by a man to the reception of wild enthusiasm. It is a situation that occurs so often that it has managed to coin its own term: hepeating. In short, “hepeating” is when a woman says something that is ignored (either in the workplace or in a social setting), but is then repeated by a man and sparks conversation.
The term was first coined by Nicole Gugliucci, a physics professor at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire. “My friends coined a word: hepeated. For when a woman suggests an idea and it’s ignored, but then a guy says same thing and everyone loves it,” she wrote in a tweet. So far, it has been retweeted almost 70,000 times and has 209,000 likes.
Other Twitter users chimed in with their own variations. “Whipeated” was suggested by user @iswpw, a term that suggests white people repeat things minorities might say but are lauded for them. “Copywhite” was suggested by @dave_dyson. While not as original as the former, it still gets the point across.
“Hepeating” joins a handful of other terms criticizing men’s societal behavior, including the terms “mansplaining,” “manterrupting,” and “bropropriating,” a slight variation on hepeating, in which a man takes credit for an idea previously pitched by a woman. While the terms are recent, the acts they name go as far back as the eighteenth century, such as when John Adams would attempt to explain women’s rights to his wife, and most likely even earlier.
Why does this happen? Better yet, why is it still happening? Why are women still losing out on opportunities to men? Why do men still think that they know better than women about their own rights?
There is room for improvement on both sides of the hepeating conundrum. For one, because their ideas have been stolen for so long, women need to learn that they have a voice and that it should be validated and treated just like a man’s. They deserve to be taught how to assert themselves in a room, to learn that they do matter when it comes to their own opinions.
Men, on the other hand, could perhaps begin to learn what women have been pushing for years: that women’s opinions are valid, and neither women nor their opinions are inferior to men. A woman in a corporate position is someone to be respected, not someone to belittle. Most importantly, women are not there to have their opinions and ideas snapped up by their male co-workers.
The same applies in social situations as well. Women should be able to say their piece and have it well-received by an audience; they should be able to interject and provide their perspectives without being shot down. Men should have enough sense to not interrupt a woman when she is talking in order to provide an opinion they think is better just because it comes from them.
Women have the power to escape the world of hepeating and mansplaining, and should take every opportunity they can to make sure such occurrences will never happen to them. Likewise, men should work to make sure that neither term has such a common usage in society.
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