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A woman's born to weep and fret


Such a great word. I expect most of you are already familiar with the term, but because every time I think that someone proves me wrong, and because I think it's fantastic, I elaborate.

Mansplaining isn't just the act of explaining while male, of course; many men manage to explain things every day without in the least insulting their listeners.

Mansplaining is when a dude tells you, a woman, how to do something you already know how to do, or how you are wrong about something you are actually right about, or miscellaneous and inaccurate "facts" about something you know a hell of a lot more about than he does.

Bonus points if he is explaining how you are wrong about something being sexist!

Think about the men you know. Do any of them display that delightful mixture of privilege and ignorance that leads to condescending, inaccurate explanations, delivered with the rock-solid conviction of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation?

That dude is a mansplainer.

Sadly, many of these dudes are our bosses or supervisors or other authority figures to whom we cannot give much crap. But if it's someone you know in a social setting, etiquette experts agree that the appropriate thing to do is to roll your eyes and say, "Oh, please, mansplain to me some more."

You are doing him a favour. Friends don't let friends foster mansplaining.

ETA: Follow-up talking about why I don't think a gender-neutral term accurately describes the privilege behind this behaviour.

No one seems to know who came up with this term - I myself saw it in several places prior to writing this post - but the most likely antecedent is this article by Rebecca Solnit.


May. 7th, 2009 10:15 pm (UTC)
I've seen this sort of behavior transcend gender and race so I think something along the lines of douchesplaining may be more appropriate.
May. 7th, 2009 10:45 pm (UTC)
I'm puzzled by this "douche is gender neutral" idea (the second time it's appeared in this thread, so it's obviously a common cultural concept, at least in some countries). Since a literal douchebag is something used only by women, therefore implying something that touches women's genitals is the lowest of the low, I see it as a pretty sexist insult. But it's not from my culture - am I missing something?
May. 7th, 2009 11:27 pm (UTC)
I know that it is used as an insult by some feminists because a douche is a sexist item - something you're supposedly meant to use because your vagina is filthy. So, calling someone a douche is ... calling them an anti-women thing?

Then again, you also get the idiots who use the word because of the hurrrr, vagina connection. Can't win!
May. 7th, 2009 11:38 pm (UTC)
Aha, thanks! Douching is, thankfully, not a common practice in New Zealand, so its attendant terminology and connotations thereof fly right over my head.
May. 8th, 2009 03:45 am (UTC)
LOL, I certainly know it isn't common down here - like with my knowledges of circumcision, it's just what comes of being too steeped in primarily American bits of the 'net!
May. 8th, 2009 02:45 am (UTC)
When feminists use it, they're using it more because it's pointless and bad for women, and based on sexist assumptions about the defectiveness of women's bodies.

Other people use it different ways, and not everyone has to use it, but that's the idea. Sort of a reclamation-in-reverse.
May. 8th, 2009 03:33 am (UTC)
That's fair enough, although personally I still think I'll avoid it just in case of any ambiguity about which meaning I was implying.
Feb. 7th, 2010 06:24 am (UTC)
Reclaiming douche is not like any other common reclaiming because you're not taking a word used as a negative and recasting it as positive, as people have with queer, bitch or angry black woman. You're still using it as a negative.

Therefore, there's no way to know for sure whether the negative meaning your audience will gather comes from the (I think hackishly) backformed "bad for women and useless" association some feminists make, or the more primal and common "associated with vaginas and their secretions therefore dirty" association.
May. 8th, 2009 01:37 am (UTC)
Dude. That right there? The part where you invalidated my experience and then used a sexist insult as part of your proposed new term?



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