The word is in Chapter two of Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me (have to read this for a class).

It seems to be a new word that was coined by Hamida Ghafour, but I can't find anything about it.

“Women in the online gaming community have been harassed, threatened, and driven out. Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist media critic who documented such incidents, received support for her work, but also, in the words of a journalist, 'another wave of really aggressive, you know, violent personal threats, her accounts attempted to be hacked. And one man in Ontario took the step of making an online video game where you could punch Anita's image on the screen. And if you punched it multiple times, bruises and cuts would appear on her image.' The difference between these online gamers and the Taliban men who, last October tried to murder fourteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai for speaking out about the right of Pakistani women to education is one of degree. Both are trying to silence and punish women for claiming voice, power, and the right to participate. Welcome to Manistan.”

I've looked up different dictionaries but can't find the meaning anywhere, please provide me with a definition.

  • 14
    Probably “the Land of men”. On the model of country which ends in -stan. The suffix –stan is Persian and Urdu for “place of,” or “where one stands.”
    – user 66974
    Feb 14, 2020 at 11:09
  • For example, there are a zillion books, TV shows, etc with the comedic title "Something-Stan". @CYU, there is a site for basic English learner questions, to wit, the excellent ELL site. Enjoy!
    – Fattie
    Feb 15, 2020 at 17:15

2 Answers 2


In the context, I think it is just a portmanteau of man and Pakistan: Pakistan is "the land of the Pure", and the writer may mean "the land of Men", in the sense that it is a "land" where the culture and institutions are set up oppressively to protect men against all possible threats.

The ending -istan is sometimes used in an somewhat different sense, especially by right-wing organisations (I'm not going to link to it, but search for "Bradfordistan" to get a sense of their bile) but I don't think that's the intention here.

  • 2
    Yes; I think that the D-I-Y-ism is very suitable, pithy and incisive and here, as well as being well-formed, and so the non-standardness of the word is offset by the quality and reasonableness of the coining, and a novel usage is (unusually) justified on ELU. Feb 14, 2020 at 11:57
  • 3
    The suffix -stan often carries negative connotations, as Colin Fine's last paragraph says. Sometimes these are anti-Muslim but not always, as in the Bantustans of apartheid-era South Africa, and subsequent applications of the word bantustan. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bantustan
    – Stuart F
    Feb 14, 2020 at 16:13
  • 18
    Why would it be a portmanteau of Pakistan and not one of Afghanistan, Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan or Kazakhstan?
    – Jivan
    Feb 14, 2020 at 20:33
  • 8
    Because the writer had just mentioned Pakistan and Malala. Afghanistan might also have fitted because the Taliban were active there, but not any of the others. (If there is a Taliban presence in any of the others, it's not prominent in the Western consciousness).
    – Colin Fine
    Feb 14, 2020 at 20:57
  • 1
    I'm afraid I have to downvote this answer which is - simply - totally incorrect. It would be as if a non-English speaker asked the meaning of "Climategate" or "Delfategate" and an answer was given explaining what a gate is. I'm really sorry Colin but this answer is just wholly incorrect.
    – Fattie
    Feb 15, 2020 at 17:14

As others have noted, -stan literally means "land of." But the suffix has a strong negative connotation in American English, so much so that in 2014, the president of Kazakhstan considered changing the country's name to promote tourism and foreign investment. The author of your quote seems to be invoking the image of a technological backwater full of violent fanatics, as described in the above link:

In the U.S., people broadly uses [sic] the suffix "-stan" to give a generic Oriental vibe to fictional Middle Eastern countries, as with 24's sinister Islamic Republic of Kamistan or Team America: World Police's Derkaderkastan, or to indicate backwardness and instability, with names like Doonesbury's Berzerkistan or The Onion's Ethniklashistan and Nukehavistan.

  • 1
    I see "People's Republic of X" applied to US locations to infer communist influence, and am struggling to come up with an example of "-stan" applied to a US location. Do you have links to support this main part of this answer?
    – user662852
    Feb 14, 2020 at 22:12
  • 4
    Mormonistan is a derogatory name for Utah, and Redneckistan for Appalachia. See nationstates.net/nation=mormonistan and yinyangyo.fandom.com/wiki/Redneckistan
    – arp
    Feb 15, 2020 at 2:13
  • 1
    The negative connotations seem appropriate for a sexist slur.
    – Beta
    Feb 15, 2020 at 5:01
  • 3
    Sadly and humorously at the same time, people using phrases such as "People's Republic of <wherever>" and "Appalachistan" have probably never been to either a "People's Republic" or any "-istan" country, and don't recognize that the people there are the same as they are, just generally living in worse conditions. Yet they're pleased as punch to pay top dollar for the products made dirt cheap in those countries whose names they mock derogatorily. Self-satisfied fools... Feb 15, 2020 at 16:28
  • 1
    @asgallant how about Missing murals: the lost Soviet art of the Stans. I merely googled "one of the stans" and got a zillion hits. It's because people can't remember the names of these Central Asian ex-Soviet countries -- not including Pakistan and Afghanistan, whose names people can remember, as you say -- that causes -stan to carry an aura of Soviet.
    – Tom Hundt
    Feb 17, 2020 at 23:16

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