Most people know the meaning of “manterruption” without even being told.
A classic example of manterruption occurred recently when Australia Prime Scott Morrison infamously interrupted Anne Ruston, the minister for families and social services, when a reporter asked her whether the climate for women in government service had improved since the “bonk ban” era of Morrison’s predecessor.
She began to answer when Morrison jumped in to criticize the term, “bonk ban,” which refers to sexual relations between staff and ministers. He called the term dismissive of a serious problem and urged the press not to use it. Then he gestured for Ruston to carry on.
Ruston said she has felt “wholly supported” by the Prime Minister.
Of course, the problem of manterruption is not unique to Australia. Republican Vice President Mike Pence allegedly manterrupted Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris during the vice presidential debate. At least that was the inference from a tweet by UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality.
The day after the debate, UN Women wrote: “We can all help the cycle of manterruption by recognizing it calling it out, and stopping an interrupter in his (or her) tracks.”
UN Women proceeded to define “manterruption” as:
- The unnecessary interruption of a woman by a man.
- A patriarchal act that is linked to a man’s sense of epistemic entitlement that makes it very natural to speak over others, and to hold the floor for longer than is proper.
The UN Women tweet drew 2,100 likes but also a storm of criticism. Some respondents feel women are equal and don’t need to be told how to “stick up for ourselves.” Others questioned why UN Women receives public funding. Two of the most liked responses were:
“What do we call the opposite? “Femterruption”? (2.5k likes)
“What if a trans man interrupts a non-binary person with a cervix? Is there an explosion of colored awareness ribbons and sprinkles?” (1.6k likes)
Just stop interrupting. Everyone.