No one likes a mansplainer
My mother used to tell me that if I had nothing nice to say, that I shouldn’t say it at all (she's a very original woman). It was a general understanding imposed on me at a young age that I, as an adult, am guilty of sometimes ignoring. And yet, despite my mouth running away from me, I cannot wrap my head around why people think it’s okay to condescendingly explain to or patronize others—or as we like to call it: The act of mansplaining.
A few examples:
Images via Buzzfeed
When mansplaining first started circling the web, it was this general term that women used to describe a man talking down to them. Well, if you needed proof that it actually does exist, the word itself was added to Oxford English Dictionary earlier this year. The go-to’s official definition?
“Of a man: to explain (something) needlessly, overbearingly, or condescendingly, esp. (typically when addressing a woman) in a manner thought to reveal a patronizing or chauvinistic attitude.”
It’s a word that has lived inside the minds of women for years, dating back to the dark days when men decided we couldn’t think for ourselves or make our own money. Funny, isn’t it? How such an old concept is still present in today’s society.
When men tell women to smile, it’s mansplaining. When male employers baby their female employees despite their experience and years in the workplace, it’s mansplaining. When male political figures decide that birth control should be regulated, it’s mansplaining.
People (men) will argue that calling it mansplaining is sexist, people (men) will point out that women can also be condescending, that they speak down to others and assume whoever they’re speaking to knows less. So why in the world would we use a gender-coded term to conceptualize something that is not gender-specific? Are we not fighting for equality?
Stop right there.
What do men call women that speak their minds too loudly for their own comfort? A bitch and a cunt. When a women makes it up the corporate ranks, what do they whisper? That she whored herself to the top. So no, you cannot say that the term mansplaining—which is light-years more evolved than the term feminazi—is sexist. It isn’t even dehumanizing; it doesn’t hurt anyone or anything (except maybe a few egos).
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel: Men are becoming more conscious of how they speak to women. Killing the concept of mansplaining is easy, because there are so many things that it isn’t:
Answering a question is not mansplaining. Exchanging information is not mansplaining. Sharing knowledge with someone that is admittedly poorer in the field is not mansplaining.
So take a seat, gents, and change your tone. Stop assuming you always know better and—really—the only thing you need to do is treat us like equals. Besides, we don’t fear asking questions and we’ll seek help when necessary.
Art Alexandra Lara