Saturday, November 21, 2009

Vocabulary Lesson: "Man" As A Prefix

I love a portmanteau more as much as the next guy copy editor, but I am not a fan of unnecessary, overly gendered, additions to our pop culture vocabulary. Despite my misgivings, new, inane words, may be here to stay, and continue to grow in our ever expanding lexicon, so we might as well as shoulder the burden by tolerating its existence when we can't stamp it out. (That's right, Old People, stamp it out. You have my permission to correct open a discussion with the misbehaving whippersnappers!)

Most newfangled portmanteaus are my thing, but the one trend that most decidedly is not is adding "man" as a prefix to...just about anything. The general idea seems to enhance an action via an implied Y chromosome, but the effect is an emasculating, sexist term implying the meaning of the regular word is doubly wussy, because, at its default, its inherently womanly.

The most egregious of the man as a prefix is mantrum, the male tantrum, because a childish tantrum can be, apparently, manly. The word proliferated last month in reference to Jon Gosselin (and the whole affair sounded emotionally abusive, how brave, manly, and Brawny-man like is emotional abuse, anyway?) As we all know, Jon Gosselin is a bastion of gentlemanly behavior.

With disgust in mind, I present a variety of man- words, wherein "man" seems inefficient:
  • man bag, mansatchel, man purse (items used to carry things—messenger bags, briefcases, book bags—used by men)
  • manbase (mostly male fanbase)
  • man bench (a bench a man sits on, preferably outside an area, while waiting for his woman)
  • man brush (hairbrush, comb)
  • man cave (underground layer where a man does his manly things, playing Playstation, surrounded by neon beer signs, a game table, and surrounded by dank, dirty carpet; a feature men require on House Hunters)
  • man cleavage (butt crack, butt cleavage)
  • man cry ("To be emotionally or physically sad enough you feel the need to cry, but don't because you're a man.")
  • man cold (a cold)
  • man decorating (any "decorating" done by men*, specifically Christmas)
  • man period (moodiness)
  • manscaping (hygiene)
  • mansentials ("all things that are needed by a true man")
  • mantrum (tantrum)
  • Manwich (brand name for canned Sloppy Joe's introduced by Hunt's in 1969; eaten by adorable children in the commercials; “A sandwich is a sandwich, but a Manwich is a meal.”)]
  • Hegan (a male vegan; particularly perplexing to me, as I know twice as many male vegans as I know female vegans)
Remove from your lexicon, forthwith!

Additional Resources:
Gosselin's Gal Pal: Jon Throws 'Mantrums', ABC News (What is 'gal pal' anyway? It's his girlfriend.)
Virility Wikipedia article

*For the record, my job at home is decorating. (Admittedly, I am too lazy or too busy in some seasons to get it done, but Christmas is mine. Last winter, when I was mostly immobile, I dictated.)

1 comment:

anniehill said...

Don't forget "manstruction": "I received some manstruction from an old guy on the street who told me I shouldn't wear heels if I don't want to slide on the ice." A less offensive term for that might be "assvice."