Mansplaining in Congress

Having a say in society has long been a contested right of minority groups. People with more power and control find it easier to have a voice while others may find themselves powerless and thus voiceless. Many women, especially young women, may find themselves quieted by men who think they know best, a concept referred to as mansplaining.

Coined by Rebecca Solnit in 2008 in her essay, “Men Explain Things to Me,” mansplaining is a term used to describe how men can condescendingly explain concepts to women that women are actually the experts on. While anyone of any gender can ‘mansplain,’ Solnit explains that  “mansplaining is not a universal flaw of the gender, just the intersection between overconfidence and cluelessness where some portion of that gender gets stuck.” Also, mansplaining comes with the idea that men are considered to be above women in society, and thus their opinions should be more valid and worthwhile for women to hear.

Rebecca Solnit, conceived this term when discussing a dinner party she attended where a fellow male guest repeatedly talked over her and condescendingly explained a book he had heard of which coincidentally, she was the author of.

Since the publication of her article, the term mansplaining has become very popular, with many women using social media platforms to share their worst experiences of mansplaining, from being told they were inserting tampons incorrectly to mispronouncing their own names. Mansplain is now even in the online Oxford Dictionary.

Recently, a cringe-worthy mansplaining incident occurred in the House Judiciary Committee between Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Darrell Issa of California over a debate on H.R. 4092, a labor bill. Issa refers to Jayapal not by a respectful title of Congresswoman, colleague, Representative, or even by her name, but rather as “young lady from Washington.” He said that she has “naiveté” because she’s a new member of Congress. Jayapal rightfully claps back and calls Issa out, rightfully so, referring to him as her “distinguished colleague” and says “perhaps we should all go back to being naïve and actually fight for our constituents and fight for the rights that make this country great." Later, she posted a video of the incident on Twitter:  

It’s time for those who have historically been denied a voice to take a stand and call out disrespectful behavior like mansplaining once and for all.