By Merriam-Webster’s online definition, Mansplaining “occurs when a man talks condescendingly to someone (especially a woman) about something he has incomplete knowledge of, with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he’s talking to does.”
Being that we are in a new year, I think it is a great time for us to address some of our not-so-great habits and tendencies. The one on the top of the list for me is Mansplaining. I’m tired of it and it needs to stop.
The problem with Mansplaining isn’t the sharing of knowledge or information, but the condescending patronizing tone that comes with it. The automatic assumption that for some reason (maybe the combination of chromosomes they happen to possess) men feel they are the most educated on a topic. This is normally followed by most women having to reassert their intelligence.
There are a variety of topics that have been oversaturated with men and male opinions. Some of these topics include sports, business and economics, rap, exercise, math, etc. There is this general acceptance that men occupy these fields and therefore they must know more. They have internalized that and will often speak down to women because they make assumptions about their background and experience.
We live the majority of our lives subconsciously conforming to the male gaze. This normally refers to the actions we perform which are considered acceptable by social standards — which are set mostly by men. I know that, as a woman, I sometimes withhold from certain conversations on certain interests.
I have recently gotten into watching anime (my whole family and friend group watch it so by osmosis I do too), but the conversation around that interest can be disheartening sometimes. It seems the only way to share an opinion on a topic is if I am able to prove to the opposite party that I have somehow acquired enough information to speak and express an interest in that topic. I’m sorry I don’t remember what happened in the 12th season, of the sixth episode, 13 minutes and 27 seconds into the show, to a minor character. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t watch the show HunterxHunter.
Having a person, especially a man, tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about is wrong. It’s condescending and completely disregards my interests and opinions. It’s no longer about having a conversation and instead becomes trivia and a memory game. A game of how-many-names-and-facts-can-I-name-so-this-person-will-take-me-seriously — and I’m over it.
The term “Mansplaining” is often credited to the American writer Rebecca Solnit. She has written on a series of topics including feminism, politics, even the environment and more. In her book, Men Explain Things to Me, she talks about the flaws within conversations between men and women. A lot of it revolved around men wrongly assuming they know more on the topic than the women they’re conversing with.
The biggest issue I have with Mansplaining is that it silences women. You might be thinking, “Hey, shouldn’t everybody be able to speak?” The answer is yes. But when you have certain voices that are often looked up to and given a larger seat at the table, you have to reassess the speaker.
Mansplaining doesn't come from a place of equal footing but comes from a hierarchy, the hierarchy being that men know more than women.
So, this year let’s take a moment to think about what we’re going to say before we say it. Let’s think about whether the opposite party had asked for an explanation on the topic. Let’s think about what the environment is and the context of the conversation. Let’s start asking questions instead of making assumptions.
Let’s stop mansplaining.