When astronomer Nicole Gugliucci tweeted last week about “hepeating,” a word a friend of hers had coined to refer to the phenomenon wherein a woman suggesting an idea is ignored, while a man repeating the same idea is praised, many women, non-binary folks, and other people living on the planet who aren’t white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men knowingly nodded and murmured, “Ah, yes; I, too, am familiar with the signs you’re being hepeated.” For although the word was new, the idea was not — and finally… finally… many of us had away to describe something we’d experienced time and time again.
Gugliucci first posted her tweet on Sept. 22, and in the days since then, it’s gone viral in the most magnificent of ways. “My friends coined a word: hepeated,” she wrote. “For when a woman suggests an idea and it's ignored, but then a guy says same thing and everyone loves it.” She continued in a second tweet, “Usage: ‘Ugh, I got hepeated in that meeting again.’ Or, ‘He totally hepeated me!’”
On the surface, it seems like there’s only one obvious, tell-tale sign that you’ve been hepeated: You said something; it was ignored; a dude said the exact same thing you did; and then, suddenly, everyone was absolutely in love with the idea, despite the fact that they’d utterly rejected it not two minutes ago when you first put it on the table. However, this is not the only sign that hepeating has occurred — and it’s actually important to brush up on all the other indications of it having reared its sexist head as well. Sometimes hepeating is a little more subtle; indeed, sometimes people don’t even know it’s actually going on. As Gugliucci later tweeted, “So many folks deny that this happens. And yet so much evidence and research shows it happens to women AND black and brown men and women.”
Twitter users across the internet chimed chimed in with other applications and examples of hepeating in action, illustrating as they did the many signs of hepetition. Here are nine of them — which, although far from comprehensive, are all part of the bigger picture.
1You Find Yourself Nodding In Agreement With Someone About An Idea That You Put On The Table In The First Place
That’s not the way it works. If someone agrees with you, they should be the ones saying, “Yes, that is a good idea; I agree with you.” They should not be rephrasing (or, as several other Twitter users put it, “hephrasing”) your own idea so they can make you agree with them instead. That is a weird power play. It is terrible. Do not do that. Don't let anyone else do it, either.
2Your Conversational Partner Suddenly Has Selective Memory
Or, worse, they’re gaslighting you. On purpose.
3You’ve Done The Work, But The Praise Is All Falling On Someone Else
I mean, yes, McCain’s vote on the Health Care Freedom Act was, is, and remains important. But Collins’ and Murkowski’s votes are also important — and let’s not forget that once one person has stood up against something that’s unjust, it’s a lot easier for other folks to do so as well. By the time McCain had come in at the last second to vote no, Collins and Murkowski had already consistently been standing their ground on it, despite open threats being levied against them because of it. And yet, McCain received the lion’s share of the accolades on that vote, and, well… that’s a direct result of hepeating.
4When You Call Someone Out On It & They Insist You Shouldn’t Be Upset
I know hepeating and mansplaining and manspreading and manterrupting and whitesplaining and all the rest seem trivial. Because they’re everyday occurrences, they seem like they aren’t a big deal. But the truth is, they are. Those everyday occurrences make up the bulk of most of our daily lives — and as research has shown, the effects of microaggressions can be major, both for individuals experiencing them and for the cultural climate at large. Things like hepeating do matter, precisely because they’re everyday occurrences. And continuing to just let them go isn’t doing anyone any favors.
6People Are Skeptical About Your Idea… Until Someone From A More Privileged Group Backs You Up
If you’re a woman or non-binary, you’ll likely experience this as people being on the fence about your idea until a cis man decides it’s good. If you’re a person of color, it’ll be a white person’s support. If you’re an LGBTQ person, it’s the support of a cis and/or het person. If you’re a person with a disability, it’s an able-bodied person saying your idea is awesome. And on and on and on. Hepeating can be found everywhere and in many different forms.
7A Complaint Is Only Acknowledged When A Specific Person Makes It
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been complaining about the fact that the climate control in your office has been broken for weeks. If Steve in the next cubicle over makes that same complaint, magically, it will be dealt with immediately. Sigh.
8You Find Yourself Needing To Do This A Lot
I mean, at least that’s using hepeating to your advantage… but really, we shouldn’t have to resort to this tactic in the first place.