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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 03:50 pm (UTC)
I earnestly hope that if I ever do this, someone (verbally) smacks me. I've seen the behaviour, and it makes me cringe often.
May. 7th, 2009 04:15 pm (UTC)
You know, as a man, you can also grab a dude, pull him aside, and say "Hey, man, do you know what mansplaining is?"

V. USEFUL, male feminists!
May. 7th, 2009 04:44 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm sure I'm going to get use out of the term.

I must admit I'd probably prefer to call it blokesplaining though, even if that term's not as universally understood across cultures. It seems to fit the stereotype of "blokeish" attitudes rather well.

The urge to rename it may of course be due to wanting to distance and separate it from the "man" I want to identify as - which actually strikes me as a good reason for not doing so. Better to own it, continue to be uncomfortable with it and work to fix it from the inside rather than relabelling it away.
May. 7th, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC)
"Dudesplaining"? Or even go genderneutral, with "douchesplaining", but it does seem to be a particularly strong dynamic with the men-explaining-to-women thing. Or, perhaps white to person of colour, TAB to PWD, and so on.

props to you for facing that discomfort.


chocolate in the fruit bowl

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