01 July 2010

Mansplaining . . . explained.

I have to thank my friend Miranda for bringing this term and idea to my attention. Of course I knew about the action that this terminology refers to, but holy shit is it nice to have a word for it!

The activity is called "mansplaining," and here is an excellent paragraph from Rebecca Solnit's opinion piece from the Los Angeles Times that perhaps began the coalescence or convergence of feminist brilliance that came up with the term:

Men explain things to me, and to other women, whether or not they know what they're talking about. Some men. Every woman knows what I mean. It's the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men's unsupported overconfidence.

What Miranda sent me was a wonderful blog post from Science Blogs that also grapples with the mansplaining syndrome. It's worth a read. Science Blogs also refers to another blog post, by Karen Healey, about the same topic. Quoth Healey:

Mansplaining isn't just the act of explaining while male, of course; many men manage to explain things every day without in the least insulting their listeners. Mansplaining is when a dude tells you, a woman, how to do something you already know how to do, or how you are wrong about something you are actually right about, or miscellaneous and inaccurate "facts" about something you know a hell of a lot more about than he does.

Bonus points if he is explaining how you are wrong about something being sexist!

Think about the men you know. Do any of them display that delightful mixture of privilege and ignorance that leads to condescending, inaccurate explanations, delivered with the rock-solid conviction of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation?

That dude is a mansplainer.

It's a beautiful thing when smart feminist women gather their thoughts and work together to create greater understanding of living in patriarchy.

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