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Woman-splaining Mansplaining

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, mansplaining is defined as: (of a man) explain (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing. Mansplaining in our society has created a dangerous and demeaning climate to women all across the world. Mansplaining conversations produce negative and ignorant beliefs that women do not understand the world just as men do. To believe this “reality” that women do not understand the world as men do allows for the belief that women are incapable, and that is unacceptable.

 

I don’t know about you, but as a woman living in the 21st century, I feel lucky to live in a world with so much information, from the latest discoveries in stem cell research to the political issues around the world. I find it hard to believe that there is a lack of equal access to this information as well as a lack of education for many women. For men who mansplain, their naive motives are invalid.

 

Unless you are actively seeking information or have a direct connection to a particular issue, it can be difficult to keep up with and understand complex concepts, national problems or scientific advancements. However, it seems that the patterns of mansplaining abundant in our society are usually centered on generic concepts. I had one experience of mansplaining where I was told step-by-step how to eat sushi the proper way. How to lift the chopsticks and put them between my pointer and middle finger (like holding a pencil, if I had ever held one of those before), then how to dip the sushi in the soy sauce before eating it. Also, I wasn’t supposed to forget that sushi is RAW FISH. Obviously, I had never eaten REAL sushi before, because I decided to converse about the new poké place downtown. Evidently, it is still common in our society to experience mansplaining, even about the most basic things.

 

For me personally, there are a  variety of emotions I feel when I am the target of mansplaining. For one, I feel incompetent. On top of that, I feel inferior. Even worse, I feel defenseless. It’s humiliating and frustrating to feel like you have no control over your own thoughts because they are now in the control of mansplainers who find you inferior. The problem isn’t that the mansplainer was assuming I didn’t know how to eat sushi, but more so that they were treating me poorly. It is frustrating for someone to not think that I am capable.

 

However, through the frustrations that myself and other women have encountered, flipping the narrative on these grievances can help us detect and eliminate this social norm.  We can call out mansplaining when we see it. Recognizing this ignorant behavior is the first step in driving it away. Addressing mansplaining and the perpetrators allows us to stand up for ourselves and explain why this act is unjust. This isn’t being defensive, whiney or overreacting – it’s honing in on inappropriate, offensive conduct that needs to be corrected. This doesn’t go just for mansplaining, but for racist, homophobic and xenophobic behavior as well.

 

Here are some ways to shut down the presence of mansplaining culture.

 

1. Address it the first chance you get

Don’t wait for mansplaining to drag on and fester until it becomes a bigger problem. Address it as soon as you see or hear it happen. The person mansplaining may not be doing it intentionally and they’re probably not a bad guy, but by subconsciously doing it, and not being corrected, they won’t be able to fix it if it happens again. You don’t have to be rude and snappy about it, but be brief and serious. Maybe say “Hey Joe, thanks, but I got this” or “Danny, I appreciate you helping me out, but I’m not done yet.” While this may seem uncomfortable at first, don’t be afraid to speak out!

 

2. Be funny, but still address the problem

If you’re not as confrontational, this might be the better solution for you. By adding in a bit of humor in a conversation, you can convince the opposing person that they might be taking things a little too far. This way they understand that you’re not mad at them, but need them to know your boundaries.

 

3. Redirect it in all formats

Mansplaining happens to women across the world. It is important to address it even if it is not to you, but for a friend, a family member or a random woman on the street. By bringing more attention to this frustrating issue, we have more opportunities to shut it down.

 

Women are more capable than many of these interactions make us out to be. By taking the time to address this negative behavior, we can hopefully eliminate mansplaining as a social norm.

 

Kailla Sam

Wisconsin

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