You Know You’ve Been “Tertullianed” When…

The other day I received a text message from a friend and co-worker that read like this:

“When I see you later, remind me to tell you how I got “tertullianed” this week.”

Tertullianed?!? Hooray, we’ve achieved made-up verb status! Her story basically went like this:

She was at a brainstorming/planning meeting where she was randomly assigned a table full of people to work with. It turned out that there was a guy at her table that tended to only speak to or make eye contact with the other men at the table. When my friend would offer input, it was largely ignored. On top of all of that, at one point he referred to her as “this young lady,” even though she had been introduced as a key leader at the beginning of the meeting. In the end, though my friend is a great leader with more creative ideas than I’ll ever have, she left the interaction feeling frustrated, unseen and small.

Her story got me thinking. Let’s go along with this verb thing and define “tertullianing” in this way:

tertullian (v): what happens when a woman comes up against the cultural reality of male privilege.

With this definition in mind, as a woman, you’ve been “tertullianed” when…

…you have to head off to work in the morning wondering if the neighbors are judging you for not staying home with the kids.

…you have a conversation with a man where his eyes wander from your eyes to other parts of your body.

…you have to endure language that is dominated by masculine jargon: “Man up!” “Hey you guys” “You’re the man!”

…you’re a runner and you just don’t feel safe running on unpopulated trails or at night.

…as a churchgoer, you are limited in how you can use your gifts because of your gender.

…you have to worry about whether your morning wardrobe choice will either limit your influence or send the wrong message about your sexual availability.

…in the office, you have to watch as less qualified men get promoted ahead of you.


Now keep in mind the goal here isn’t to make men feel like crap. Instead, I want to point out that guys like me have privilege and part of that privilege is, in general, not having to contend with lists like the one above. What then should men do with our privilege? Stay tuned!

What about you? What are some other examples of women getting “tertullianed?”

4 responses to “You Know You’ve Been “Tertullianed” When…”

  1. Wilmer says :

    This is excellent Rob! I only wish more men can learn how to avoid perpetrating this social malady.

  2. Una says :

    How about being asked if you’ll keep working once the baby is born?

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