Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Re: "mansplaining" as "transcending gender and race", and so perhaps "douchesplaining" being more appropriate.

I think there could definitely be, for example, a "whitesplaining" term, although I'm not the person to decide that. I have seen an awful lot of white privileged explaining times, particularly in regards to how the white person with their clearer, more objective understanding, can prove that X is not racist, silly PoC. Tolkien was writing in a different era! Mammies are positive stereotypes! There are PoC in the future I've imagined; they're just off doing something that doesn't get shown in my book! But it also comes in things like, "If you people would just stop being victims..."

I've also seen behaviour that might equate to cisplaining (you're just confused), straightsplaining (I don't have anything *against* you people, but if you can get married it violates the separation of Church and State) and from years of living with my brother, I have seen plenty of, and many times engaged in, what could be called ablesplaining* (what you need is a good hiding to set you straight).

But I don't like "douchesplaining" as a catch all. It's not just people being ignorant and condescending, it's people doing so through the mechanisms of privilege supporting their superiority in a given situation, even though, on the topic at hand, they have an inferior understanding. Using a term that notes the privilege is, I think, essential to calling out the perpetrator not just for bad behaviour, but for behaviour that is sourced in and enforces that privilege.

Also, "douche" in itself is an insult, and it is a gendered insult (in the feminist circles I frequent, a "douche" refers to something that is fundamentally unnecessary and harmful to women; in the wider world it means "something women put on their disgusting and inferior genitalia").

Being a man isn't bad. Neither's being white, middle-upper class, educated, cisgendered, straight, or (for now) typically able. It's the man(etc)splaining that's the problem: bad behaviour as an exercise of privilege.

If you really want a word for people doing this shit to each other when they share the same privileged status or when privilege is not an issue - and I'm sure it happens, though maybe not as often as you might think - "assplaining" would probably work fine. Asses are a near-universal source of toxic emissions.

The thing about mansplaining is that it's not obviously discourteous. Dudes will often mansplain very politely - by the standards of politeness that are enforced by patriarchy. They won't raise their voices or call me a cunt or a bitch, they'll just politely and ignorantly explain to me shit I already know, or point out how I am wrong and they are right. Which of course makes me the aggressor the second I call them on it. I want a term that focuses on the behaviour, and doesn't let courtesy act as cover for sexism.

* There's also a particular form of ablesplaining that gets directed at companions as a sort of person-by-proxy: "Does he want an icecream?" "Why don't you ask him?" "*affronted look*"



( 42 — comment )
May. 8th, 2009 01:21 am (UTC)
I have nothing to say except bravo, thought provoking once again.

Your douche reference brings me round to my ongoing thoughts about "cunt" as a term of abuse, and trying to work out whether Brit/NZ/AU usage is more or less offensive than the US usage. We use "cunt" exclusively for men, so when we abuse a man in that way we are saying he is merely some inferior female genitalia, not even a prick/cock. So I guess effectively we're abusing him by calling him a woman. Whereas, the US usage is expressly for women and it reduces the woman solely to her genitalia.

I know the obvious answer is "don't use cunt as an abusive term" - or, as my friend used to say. "don't call him a cunt - cunts are useful" - but people DO and I'm fascinated by the different resonance. My impression is that cunt is the worst thing you could call a woman in the US, but if someone called me a cunt I would think it was funny and out of place. Whereas, it's generally the worst thing you can call a man in Our Land.

May. 8th, 2009 01:45 am (UTC)
I beg to differ. I've been called a cunt, with extreme viciousness, by NZers.
(no subject) - suzycat - May. 8th, 2009 01:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karenhealey - May. 8th, 2009 01:59 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - suzycat - May. 8th, 2009 02:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nentuaby - May. 8th, 2009 02:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karenhealey - May. 8th, 2009 02:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - travellers_joy - May. 8th, 2009 07:11 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 8th, 2009 01:39 am (UTC)
I always liked failsplaining as a catch-all. Whether it's the explanation or the way it's being explained, it's faily. XD
May. 8th, 2009 02:25 am (UTC)
Now that coinage I can get behind.
May. 8th, 2009 01:50 am (UTC)
This is clear and sensible and totally CORRECT. Yay, Karen!
May. 8th, 2009 02:11 am (UTC)
I must admit it is one of my flames-on-the-side-of-my-face triggers, despite the fact that it is so completely predictable, that right after someone identifies a gender-linked behavior, one of the first responses is going to be someone else saying "we need a gender-neutral term for this!"
May. 8th, 2009 02:31 am (UTC)
That would be because many of us flatly reject the notion of a gendered personality trait. Certainly there are traits which are more predominant among one or the other, but actually coining the term for a trait to incorporate a gender is... Kinda fail.

(no subject) - karenhealey - May. 8th, 2009 02:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nentuaby - May. 8th, 2009 02:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - some_stars - May. 8th, 2009 02:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nentuaby - May. 8th, 2009 02:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karenhealey - May. 8th, 2009 02:46 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - some_stars - May. 8th, 2009 02:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karenhealey - May. 8th, 2009 02:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nentuaby - May. 8th, 2009 02:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karenhealey - May. 8th, 2009 02:59 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nentuaby - May. 8th, 2009 03:14 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 8th, 2009 02:41 am (UTC)
Add my bravos here, too.

Back years ago when Bill Maher first started Politically Incorrect and was still somewhat amusing, I caught one stand-up bit of his at the start of a show and it's stayed with me ever since. He was talking about some case of domestic abuse, and stopped, and said, "Domestic abuse? Let's call it what it is. Wife-beating. Some things don't deserve a euphemism." (Or something along those lines.) I used to have the quote jotted down somewhere, wish I sill had it -- because it was an excellent example of how it's possible to hide behind polite language, like "domestic abuse" when really, it's something far more simple and brutal and that's how it should be described: wife-beating.

And that's what I think of, in reading your comment that you "want a term that focuses on the behaviour, and doesn't let courtesy act as cover for sexism." -- something that undoes the euphemisms and calls it like it is.

Personally, I think mansplaining is an awesome term. Too bad it's one I have to deal with so much of the time...
May. 9th, 2009 03:37 am (UTC)
Of course, with domestic abuse, it's not only wives being abused, and the abuse isn't only in the form of beating. So I'm okay with that one.
(no subject) - kaigou - May. 9th, 2009 03:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - malfeasanceses - May. 9th, 2009 04:01 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karenhealey - May. 9th, 2009 04:33 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 8th, 2009 03:22 am (UTC)
My language nerdery focuses in on the irrelevant: douche or douchebag gained at some recent point a very specific meaning, gendered but in a very atypical way. It's often used to as a general insult, I mean, but I've also seen fine-point explanations (in mixed company) of who is and is not a douchebag. Actually, within the past couple of months I ran across a Gawker comment thread in which various people bemoaned the loss of specificity in the use of douchebag, how it had lost its meaning of "that entitled and vaguely creepy jerk who thinks he is god's gift to women and wears gallons of Axe body spray" and was becoming the catchall word for any hateable person.

I haven't teased out the logic for how "douchebag" became the word of choice to describe the well-known type; it doesn't seem like the application of a female-degrading word to a male, because the whole point is that the male in question is behaving in ways no right-thinking person (male or female) approves of. It might be a simple inversion, the way you call a man a prick or a dick, but... douchebag?

Then again, I don't even know what a douchebag looks like. I wouldn't know where to find one in a store. (Or did they stop making them? I'm old enough to remember the Not-so-fresh-feeling commercials for them, but young enough that I never figured out what "not-so-fresh" actually meant, nor what one might do about it.)

Is it possible it's just the felicity of the word? It's kind of funny to say; that's not a set of consonants that mash together often, in English. (And that's the real reason why "douchesplain" would never catch on -- too much of a transition between the soft CH and the S in the middle of the word. It would quickly start to sound like "dooseplain" and then it would be impossible for the new hearer to intuit the meaning on a first try.)

Anyway. I endorse transparency in the word: it's not "any asshole teaching my grandmother how to suck eggs"; it is "an asshole in this specific asshole-pattern teaching my grandmother how to suck eggs." The pattern is the point, not the assholery.
Jan. 31st, 2010 11:46 pm (UTC)
Sucking eggs
Now my mom tried to teach her children and I think some of her grandkids how to suck eggs, but none of us, to my knowledge, went for it. I tried once. As a kid she used to spend the entire day away from home, with raw potato and sucked egg to keep her going till supper. God, I miss her. No wonder Dad feels the way he does.

Anyway, despite my never learning how, I have explained egg sucking to my grandkids, and would, given the opportunity, do the same to anyone else. Wonder if that would be mansplaining.
Re: Sucking eggs - karenhealey - Feb. 1st, 2010 12:05 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 8th, 2009 03:26 am (UTC)
what could be called ablesplaining* (what you need is a good hiding to set you straight).

Also, no, you are completely wrong to find it annoying when people have no respect for your boundaries at all and just rush up and grab you without permission! They are only trying to help and you should be grateful!

And many, many others.
May. 8th, 2009 05:18 am (UTC)
I'm reminded of a Chinese Olympics pamphlet a friend of mine told me about, suggesting to staff (as I recall) that disabled people are prone to getting angry as a result of their condition, and in order to minimise the chances of that happening you should do important things like not openly staring at them, or trying to sit in their wheelchairs.

(no subject) - msconduct - May. 9th, 2009 01:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 8th, 2009 05:55 am (UTC)
Oh, I get that affronted look all the fucking time.

The rest of this post has given me lots to think on.
(Deleted comment)
May. 9th, 2009 08:44 pm (UTC)
It's the same failure-to-see/acknowledge-the-system behavior that leads to complaints about "reverse racism" and "isn't X just as bad as Y?" and "when I was in elementary school, black kids beat me up for being white all the time!" (Well, all right, the last one also comes from "lying" a lot if not all of the time, but. As a counter to institutional racism as a problem.)

I gave a presentation in my speech class which was basically a highly frustrated and sarcastic listing and calling-out of all of the tactics used to deny the existence of privilege by a privileged person talking to a non-privileged person, and "Don't See the System" had a slide all to itself. Because, yeah, your experience with that aunt who always says she needs to "fatten you up" and "put some meat on those bones" every time she sees you is exactly like the systemic devaluation of fat people in our culture by everyone around them, except for all the ways that it's not (which is all the ways that matter). And Black History Month and Black Entertainment Television is exactly like the white boys' club of general Hollywood, except how it's not at all the same. And "honky" and "cracker" (which I have frankly never heard used seriously. Ever.) are exactly as threatening as "nigger" and "spic" and talking about how men are more likely to be the perpetrators of rape is just as oppressive as making rape jokes and--

It's so hard, so frustrating trying to get across to people who refuse to see it: There's a system. The system matters. One thing is not the same as a thousand things; there's a reason we talk about the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, or death by a thousand cuts. Numbers matter, especially when you're trying to deal with something at the roots, understanding and eradicating its causes, and going "but women can rape men too!" (or saying that anti-racism, feminism, &c. just boil down to the Golden Rule) doesn't. actually. help.
Aug. 11th, 2009 05:27 am (UTC)
Dicksplaining? Linked to a male body part and a term that's used for general bad behavior.
Jan. 28th, 2010 06:44 pm (UTC)
How about 'privlisplaining?' That'd cover a multitude of situations, and plus, it sounds good.

Jan. 29th, 2010 01:02 am (UTC)
As a catch-all? Certainly! But I still think that for gender privilege, mansplaining is a better specific term.
Jan. 29th, 2010 01:29 am (UTC)
I've got some "mansplaining" to do. Just as you would not feel comfortable with females being stereotyped, I do not feel comfortable with men being stereotyped.

Boiled down in the most paternal manner I can muster: This is a term feminists should be fighting against, not encouraging.

I hope you are proud of the results.
Jan. 29th, 2010 01:37 am (UTC)
Am I proud that my definition of a mansplainer was used in a post that inspired a number of women to speak up and share their funny, sad, and enraging experiences of this particular pernicious and widespread use of patriarchal privilege, prompting many of them to have the rush of relief that comes from realising that it's not you being crazy, but a crazy world?

... is this a trick question? Hell yeah I'm proud!
Mar. 13th, 2010 03:46 am (UTC)
Can I just add, despite this being an old post, that I just love it when healthcare workers (or fake healthcare workers) try to docsplain to me in disability rights spaces?

I mean, love.

But they never know why I'm laughing.
( 42 — comment )