Some ‘Splainin To Do… Mansplaining That Is

Danny explores whether or not there are legitimate uses for the term “mansplaining”.

So earlier today we were all talking about Ryan Gosling in a post by Joanna. Someone mentioned the term mansplaining. Well after a while Joanna said that she would like to see a post on the word. Here goes.

First off let’s get an idea of what mansplaining is. I found what seems to be one of the oldest explanations of the term (and includes a link to a possible original source for the term) at Karen Healey’s livejournal:

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!

I’m going to leave it at that. More than likely I’ll put in my two cents in the comments but I don’t want to add my opinion to the main post in that it might sway people.

So what do you think?

Legitimate term?

A term that has some legitimacy but has the potential for incorrect use?

Useless lingo that really adds nothing?

Offensive lingo that is ultimately counterproductive?

Are there other forms of _____-splaining that occur?

Photo of screaming businessman courtesy of Shutterstock

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About Danny

Part techie, part gamer, and part cook, Danny can often be found tinkering with a PC, pondering short story ideas, or playing a game. When asked, “If you're so opinionated, why don't you start your own blog?” one time too many, he did just that. As a result, Danny's Corner was created as a place for the rage, confusion, comedy, and calm that are natural for one that's pondering the basics of being a man. He can also be found haunting Twitter from (@dannyscorner).

Comments

  1. Transhuman says:

    So, a general criticism of men is okay for a comment but one against the other sex is somehow wrong; try femmesplaining that away. Someone might be forgiven for thinking there are deliberately constructed terms to ensure conflict.

  2. Joanna Schroeder says:

    This is what I wrote over in the comment of the day called “There is an amazing lack of genuine dialogue between the sexes” Archy left a great response, and if he wants to copy/paste his here, that’d be great.

    I think there’s something to this “mansplaining” thing that needs to be explored. We’ve been talking about it over in the Ryan Gosling Book piece…

    The way I see it is this: There are two sorts of truths: The way it FEELS and the way we should try to see things in order to make things better.

    For instance, mansplaining is very, very real. And there is a sense of it being just fine for men to speak authoritatively to women about things without considering that she may have knowledge. I’ve seen it happen with my friend who is an incredibly talented professional photographer. Her husband often works as her assistant, and men, with frightening regularity, will come up to her and start teaching her about her camera. “Did you know that this camera does this? Why are you using this setting? Did you know that to capture the light you need to…” Like really rudimentary stuff. And guess what? They literally have never done it to her husband. Who has been a photographer for maybe two years to her eleven.

    Now, this applies to all sorts of situations. A father of a friend of mine was telling me all about this new drug being developed using a natural part of the body (I’m omitting details because it is a mutual friend of ours’ company and it’s a secret thing, not because I don’t know about it). I said something about the structure of the protein in question, and he went on to lecture me about the function of such-and-such, not letting me talk, and not recognizing that I actually know a TON about this, and he was actually dead wrong.

    Here’s my question – when men talk to each other, do they not consider whether the other man may also know this info before they launch in like know-it-alls? I think many men are simply more sensitive to the fact that a guy might be offended by know-it-all-ing.

    I don’t think the men who “mansplain” are trying to do anything bad. I don’t think they even know they’re doing it. They don’t think they’re being patriarchal or misogynistic. It’s what they learned, most likely from their fathers. If someone were to lovingly point out to them that it might be condescending, most would probably stop doing it, or try to.

    And while it may not be fair to give it a name, and we could say he’s “patronizing me”, there’s something particular about when a guy does it like he knows a whole ton more than you. And no, Mansplaining is not the same as a guy saying he knows something, not knowing that you too know it. It’s the assumption that you don’t know it, and he needs to teach you without inquiring as to whether you do know it.

    One example of a gendered term in reverse would be “henpecking” which is a particular thing women tend to do to men. When you see it, you know it. And when a woman does it to you, it feels a very particular way. The same thing done by a man might feel differently, and it might require a different term.

    And while it might not be great that we use gendered terms for these things… Sometimes, in real life, these words just feel… right.

    The worst thing is that I think something like “mansplaining” gets used as an insult for any guy saying anything about his feelings around women who are just plain old jerks and want to find a way to make guys feel like shit.

    And in an ideal world – the world where we all do what we think is best and don’t do shitty things to one another – we we wouldn’t say “bitched out” or “henpecked” or “mansplaining”… but this is the real world where the things done to us feel differently based upon who’s doing it. And we do different things, in general, based upon our gender. Because gender is so much a social construct, and the ways that we act “like a man” or “like a woman” are taught to us when we don’t even realize we’re learning or mimicking.

    It isn’t right but I hope maybe it helps a bit that I’ve clarified how it feels. I fully recognize how hurtful it is to have someone say it against you – especially when you aren’t doing it and they’re just flinging insults… But if you can hear what women mean when they say it – and in reverse women here what it means when guys say that a woman is bitching or henpecking – then we can all grow to a place where we don’t need those terms.

    • I think part of it is raising men to be knowledgeable on such things to the point they probably feel the woman is asking them about it, or they see their helpful contribution is to give detail on stuff they feel they know. I’ve explained things to people not assuming they don’t know, but assuming that IF they don’t know now they do, it’s an automatic thing and I’m not sure where it came from. I guess we hear it from other men maybe, and it’s exacerbated when we’re use to people actually asking for help on a subject such as I get for photography, computers, etc where I could easily just be in that automatic mode and over-explain stuff because I am so used to people wanting me to.

      Maybe a quick Hey, “I don’t need to know this”, or “you don’t have to explain it all” is needed but so often I see mansplaining used as SNARK which isn’t always helpful. But much of the backlash to the word I see comes from it’s usage by some radfems/feminists/whatever who use it to shut down men and even insult them. Please remember that whilst many of these terms have valid usages, a lot of them can also be used in a highly patronizing, insulting, and silencing manner which you’ll hear some folks say they receive from some internet feminists at times.

      Also on public forums some people might over-explain stuff not assuming the commentator they are replying to doesn’t know, but that OTHERS reading both comments may or may not know. Would that be mansplaining still?

      • Joanna Schroeder says:

        Sure, and on the Internet there isn’t the subtle body language and verbal cues for people to let one another know, “Hey, I get this. You don’t need to explain.”

        The rest of this is not directed specifically to Archy but to the conversation as a whole:

        However I can attest thoroughly that there are many men who, no matter how much you say, “Yeah, I know that” just keep coming at you with it. Like, Duh you don’t know that, you dumb girl.

        And while maybe NONE of you on this thread or in this conversation would ever do that to a woman, don’t invalidate the fact that it really, truly does happen. And it happens a LOT more than you realize. You cannot know what it’s like to be a woman, you simply cannot, unless you have been a woman.

        I won’t assume to know what it feels like to be a man – and maybe that’s what makes me different from other Feminists. I don’t know what experiences you’ve had with other Feminists, but I believe you when you say that they use it as snark or as a way of shutting you down. I feel the same about “Creep”. I get ya, I hear ya, that it’s hurtful and overused and abused… But you cannot know what it’s like to be me and to have lived my life as a woman.

        So go ahead and say that YOU don’t use it that way, but don’t insist that it isn’t used that way, and that men don’t Mansplain. Because many of them do.

        Just like many feminists snark and shut you down with the term. I hear you, I believe you. Now hear me and believe me.

        • I don’t doubt that it happens, some folks try to do it to me and I’ve seen it happen once or twice, probably done it myself by accident. I’ve helped a novice with a computer issue, turns out she didn’t know much about one aspect but was fine with other aspects and I just overexplained it all “just in case”. I don’t assume they know, or don’t know, I just threw caution to the wind and explained it hoping they’d speak up if they already knew (please do so ladies, saves me trying to explain it:P). My intention was never to be patronizing, but if other men do it patronizingly then I could see it making a woman feel patronized if I did it. Thing is it becomes so automatic, the guys I know do it and quite frankly it’s kind of good thing because I may miss something so the reminder can be helpful. But I try to listen and take in knowledge like a sponge, even if I know something I will listen and try learn more, I know a fair bit about photography these days but someone can “splain” it to me if they want, I’ll tell them to pipe down if they get patronizing but I’ll thank them if I do learn something.

          Now I said that not to invalidate mansplaining, I said it to try explain a way some folks overexplain as a way to be helpful, strike up debate, share information, bond, all sorts of reasons really. Although I do have some friends who are know it alls, and it’s pretty sad watching 2 of them tell each other fight over who is right. It’s as if they cannot admit defeat, they have to be right, no sense of humility?

        • I believe that there are people out there who enjoy feeling smarter, superior etc to others. I’ve experienced being ‘splained on many occasions. Often, in the most pure form of gendersplaining, it’s when one gender comes into the world or realm of another and tells them how to do things better. Say, if a male feminist came into a meeting of feminists organizing an event, and proceeded to tell them how they were doing things wrong around the topic of women’s rights.
          Now, it’s entirely possible that this man knows more about a topic than the women in the room. And there are great and collaborative ways to offer that knowledge. And there are not so great and dismissive ways to offer that knowledge.
          It’s also possible based on one example that the men are attempting to “win” the favor of the women by showing off knowledge. It’s possible that that works sometimes. It’s also possible that it is really really annoying to be talked down to when it’s your business/skill/etc that you know you are on top of.

          I’ve had people work collaboratively with me and share knowledge I didn’t have. I”ve also had people talk down to me clearly not knowing as much as I know. It’s annoying and offputting. I’ve found it that it does happen with men who are usually surprised when I’m in charge of something that they’d expect a man to be in charge of.

        • Yep, it happens all the time and it’s super annoying. The attitude is, “you dumb girl, let me tell you all about this subject” regardless of whether you express any interest in receiving said wisdom, and even if you say repeatedly that you already know all about it. I’ve never had a woman do this to me. To be fair, it’s only a minority of men who act this way, and maybe they do the same thing to their male friends.

    • Transhuman says:

      “The way I see it is this: There are two sorts of truths: The way it FEELS and the way we should try to see things in order to make things better.”

      I find this deeply disturbing is this truly what passes for truth? Neither of these two “truths” are actually factual, they have more a sense of “truthiness” rather than truth. They may be real emotions but they are not factual proofs of anything other than how you feel. There are the way things are – fact, and how we feel – emotion, then the way we’d like them to be – intention. Only the first one is a fact, the first two are real and the third is an ambition ie not real yet.

      I’d like to use an example:
      You see a film clip of a woman being slapped once by a man with an open hand. You may well feel revulsion at the violence committed, your emotion might lead you to believe the man is abusive.

      The you see the whole clip where the woman struck the man first and he is retaliating. Now you’ve seen the whole story your emotional reaction is shown to be real, but factually incorrect.

      To address how men talk, perhaps it is different by profession even perhaps by country. My professional experience is IT my country is Australia; men I have worked with explain stuff to each other all the time, even listening to someone explain something you think you already know can impart (a) knowledge of how much the person doing the explaining knows for future questions (b) added knowledge or links to other topics you might not have made (c) an opportunity to hear the same information put a different way which may be helpful in presenting to a client who has no idea. It is my experience that men don’t oneupmanship each other on knowledge, they enjoy the act of sharing it.

      This led me to ask this question – should men change how they speak because they are talking with/around/nearby a woman?

      Consider another example:

      Two men watch a game of football (whatever code you like…even AFL I won’t hold it against you) yet they talk about it. Didn’t they both see the game? Didn’t they both see the catches, the throws, the fumbles and the scores? Yet they enjoy talking about it. So, factually, what is there to talk about if they both have access to the same information? The conversation is the differing points of view…what each saw as more important what each enjoyed most out of the game.

      I’m not sure that supporting the creation of new, divisive terms is going to help “us” to “all grow to a place where we don’t need those terms.”

      • Very interesting comment, I agree especially with the going over the same material from a different perspective.

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          First, Transhuman, you have just invalidated my experiences as a woman.

          You do not get to decide what experiences I’ve had. I’ve never invalidated any of your experiences. Some people may have, but I’ve never said, “That doesn’t happen”.

          I’m going to say this one more time — You cannot know what it’s like to be a woman and to be talked down to repeatedly by men. You simply cannot. You can listen to women, and try to empathize. You do not get to decide what my experience is.

          And I don’t do that to you. I don’t tell you you’re wrong about your experiences.

          And there is very rarely “truth” in any human interaction unless it is videotaped. Even then, people may interpret — and often do interpret — what they’ve seen into different “truths”.

          The only truth is that the quest to meet in the middle of two people’s experiences is the only way to move forward.

          • But Joanna, isn’t part of the “quest to meet in the middle” the implicit acknowledgement that your own experience is not the “objective truth.”?

            As soon as one party is unwilling to move away from their own experience, then there is no longer any ability to meet in the middle.

            What are we supposed to do when one group is simply not going to try and change their viewpoint? How can we get to a middle ground in the face of such stubbornness?

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              Did I call it “objective truth” ? No, actually I didn’t. In fact, I said there isn’t really any “truth” there is only the experiences and interpretations of others.

            • Look, I just don’t understand the distinction here:

              My experience is not the objective truth.

              My experience may be wrong.

              Last I checked, these sentences were rough equivalents. And yet the moment the second one gets uttered, everyone involved is accused of “denying the experience of X.”

              Why isn’t it possible to simply question experience because of the first sentence? If there’s no “truth” then that implies that all experiences may very well be to some degree “lie” (for want of a better word, “misunderstanding” is probably better).

              How is what Transhuman wrote different from this? Why is he automatically denying an experience instead of simply questioning whether or not it is “truth”?

              If you acknowledge your experience may not be “truth” and he is saying that it may not be “truth” then it seems like the two of you would be in agreement. But instead you reacted very strongly and said he was trying to “deny your experience as a woman.”

              This doesn’t make sense to me. What’s the real difference here?

          • Transhuman says:

            If there is no truth, only subjective experience, then there can be no lies. That path leads to some very interesting conclusions.

            “You do not get to decide what experiences I’ve had.”

            Where in my comment did I say to you your experiences have not occurred? I challenged your use of the word “truth”, I presented some examples of how men, in my experience, talk with each other and asked whether men should change how they talk around women. How does any of this “invalidate you as a woman”? How does any of that deny how you feel? Emotions are indeed real, they are not empirical indicators of fact or truth, other than “you feel this way about X”, as they are not objective.

      • It is my experience that men don’t oneupmanship each other on knowledge, they enjoy the act of sharing it.

        This. The enjoying part, at least for me. My wife told me a while back that she found it really annoying when I told her stuff she already knew. She said it came off as a disregard of her knowledge. She mentiones some examples and in a few cases I didn’t know she knew that stuff (she didn’t let me in on at the time that she knew that stuff) other times I was perfectly aware of the fact that she knew what I was talking about. My intention were never to be lecturing, but rather to voice my knowledge and get feedback (adjustments, corrections, arguments or acknowledgement/agreement). She said she often perceived it as lecturing. I now try to explicitly acknowledge her knowledge of stuff when I am about to go on about something. She have agreed to bluntly let me know when I talk about stuff she already knows and she wants me to stop. Most of the time she consider it a verbal tick from me and lets me drone on and she isn’t so annoyed by it as she used to be.

        I guess this “habit” is a side-effect of scoring high on the introvert axis – I am most comfortable (I thoroughly enjoy it) talking about stuff I know (well) and stuff I have strong opinions on and much less comfortable to the point of total suckiness with ordinary “small talk”.

        • What a great comment, tactic for you both to use and a great insight into introvert/extrovert relations.

        • So basically a behaviour you do with men that is completely fine, is seen as negative with the women/your wife at least? So isn’t her own perception the part that is truly at fault in misunderstanding a common communication method that apparently doesn’t feel patronizing to the men?

          I’d say there is a difference between rattling off about how a car engine works vs saying NO, you are wrong, THIS is how a car engine works (which would be lecturing).

          Mansplaining, or at least some accounts of it is starting to sound like women do not understand typical male communication and perceive it in a vastly different way to the men?

          • Yes, she perceived it as annoying. She conveyed that to me and we both made adjustments to minimize that annoyment. My adjustment was to more explicitly acknowledge what she know (which I don’t find difficult at all since she in fact is awesome and knows a lot of stuff) and her adjustement was to believe my explanation of my behaviour even though that differed from her initial belief and to take that into account. I don’t think it would’ve gone so well if I had just insisted to continue doing the same thing without any changes nor if she had insisted that the reason I gave for this behaviour from me was fake or invalid and continued to take offence.

            There is a difference between rattling on and lecturing as you said and I mostly fall in the former category. I say mostly because I reserve the right to use the lecturing “No, you are wrong, This is how a car engine works” when someone claim that car engines are powered by tiny rainbow colored unicorns running on treadmills.

            Yes, I think that in some cases “mansplaining” is about women not understanding male communication. In other cases they understand the communication perfectly well. Like when women I don’t know started to tell me how I should dress my child. Perhaps one direction is more common than the other, but I am not a fan of genderized terms which happens to apply to all genders and I think one is better off using other terms than mansplaining.

            • Obviously whoever invented it wanted to specifically call out men, but as the comments show here it’s not actually a gendered phenomenom. Maybe it should just be called patronizing explanations? Or splaindowns (Explaining down to someone).

    • Mark Neil says:

      “and men, with frightening regularity, will come up to her and start teaching her about her camera”

      I think what you’re missing here is that “they are coming up to her and attempting to initiate a conversation, and appear knowledgable and useful (utility) to her. Unfortunately, they are doing so in a patronizing way, given she already knows (but would it be so patronizing if she didn’t know, or would it be appealing? Honest question… does a person knowing a lot about a subject you are interested in but know little appeal to you?). But think about that for a minute, why might they be doing this? And remember, they don’t always know she’s married or her assistant (if he’s there) is her husband. Do you really believe the men are doing this to correct her camera usage? Do you really believe these men really consider whether she’s using the camera right or wrong as some topic that MUST be addressed?

      “Here’s my question – when men talk to each other, do they not consider whether the other man may also know this info before they launch in like know-it-alls? ”

      Yes, men (in my experience) do this all the time. Because it is so common, we develope ways of communicating that we know. To be honest, I’m not really sure what I do, perhaps it’s just the way you cut them off with a similar “this is how you do things” attitude that establishes we both know how it’s done, lets more on to more advanced discussions on the topic to see who knows more/best (or get things done). Maybe not, I really never thought about it. But the answer to your question is, yes, men do get all know-it-all with other men, particularly on topics not tradditionally male.

      I also find women do it a lot too, usually about parenting, cooking (I’m a great cook, seriously considered becoming a chef for a long while) and similar traditionally female topics. I’d like to point to the articles definition for what amounts to justifying this very thing…”Bonus points if he is explaining how you are wrong about something being sexist!” Does this not make the presumption a woman knows more about sexism, and that her opinion on the topic will be the correct one over that of a man?

      “It’s what they learned, most likely from their fathers.”

      I’ve been accused on a number of occassions and I never had a father. Isn’t that a rather sexist comment? If you disagree, does this mean I’ve mansplained you with bonus points?

      Consider for a minute that what mansplaining is might be an attempt to demonstrate their value, to self promote and place one at the top of the heap regarding that topic. This notion, this competition, is a societal leason, not a paternal one.

      “there’s something particular about when a guy does it like he knows a whole ton more than you”

      Why is that? perhaps it’s different because you’re not on the receiving end of femmesplaining to realize it’s exactly the same? Isn’t this your telling men about their experience with patronizing discussion? Does a woman’s dismissal of my opinions on fatherlessness (see above. never had a father) because I can never be a mother and know what my child is experiencing due to that natural mother nurturing she has (aside from being incredibly sexist and self serving) count as less patronizing that telling a woman how to change a tire without realizing she’s an auto mechanic?

      • You are right, there are some guys who think that showing off their knowledge is a way to impress women. Usually it isn’t, especially if they end up coming across as patronizing. It can simply be a symptom of social awkwardness. I remember bring on a date once with a guy in high school who knew I was a science and nature geek. He started lecturing me about poisonous snakes. I told him we had just covered poisonous snakes in a field biology class I was taking. He persisted in telling me a lot of “facts” that I knew were wrong. For example, he tried to convince mecthat gopher snakes are venomous when I knew for a fact they are harmless, but look like rattlesnakes and will even shake their tails and hiss to sound like a rattlesnake. I told him that (nicely ) and he yelled at me that I was wrong. I got mad and said “no YOU are wrong!” The date did not go well after that. :-)

        • Mark Neil says:

          remember, high school is where people learn a lot of the do’s and don’ts of gender relations. please don’t use highschool experiences to define how grown men behave. This isn’t to say that grown men fail those social skills as well, just that just because you experienced it in highschool, doesn’t mean experiences that show similarities aren’t for completely different reasons. For example, I mention bellow that (at least in my experience), sometimes that patronizing is actually a man’s way of challenging you to explain something he doesn’t understand. I’m not sure if this is common, or just my own experience. I’d be interested in hearing others opinions on this.

          • True, but it’s the clearest example I could think of to explain the general talking-down-to that I’ve encountered from some men on occasion throughout my life. I have never called it “mansplaining” though. I call it being condescending or patronizing.

        • John Anderson says:

          @ sarah

          He just didn’t know how to approach women. If he knew you were interested in science and nature, he should have spent time asking questions even if he knew the answers to them. People like talking about things that interest them. They become more comfortable. They have a better time and that impacts their perception of the date. He could have even come up with a line like since I can tell the snakes apart would you mind going on a nature walk with me to set up a second date.

    • John Anderson says:

      @ Joanna Schroeder

      “when men talk to each other, do they not consider whether the other man may also know this info before they launch in like know-it-alls?”

      Is a guy more likely to stop to help another man fix a flat tire or to help a woman fix a flat tire? Instead of being condescending, they may be trying to genuinely be helpful. Guys are less likely to offer other men assistance so probably don’t offer unsolicited advice. There may also be a societal influence, which instills a belief that men do not require assistance. If I had a choice between having access to an available social safety on condition that I’d have to hear unsolicited advice on occasion and no access to a social safety net, but I wouldn’t need to hear unsolicited advice, I’d take the social safety net with the minor occasional irritation.

  3. Here’s my question – when men talk to each other, do they not consider whether the other man may also know this info before they launch in like know-it-alls? I think many men are simply more sensitive to the fact that a guy might be offended by know-it-all-ing.
    For the most in my experience no. Men talk over other men in the same ways that men talk over women. I’ve done it and I’ve had it done to me. Which is one reason why this mansplaning thing bothers me because its being propped up as if this is the only type of patronizing explanation that happenes.

    One example of a gendered term in reverse would be “henpecking” which is a particular thing women tend to do to men. When you see it, you know it. And when a woman does it to you, it feels a very particular way. The same thing done by a man might feel differently, and it might require a different term.
    Another reason the touting of mansplaining happens. Some of the very same people that will go on about how mansplaning is so bad will scream the bloodiest of murder at the mere implication that a woman could do the same to a man. No, calling a woman out on henpecking would be considered misogyny, silencing, oppression, gaslighting, and possibly even mansplaining in order reflect the “know-it-all-ness”.

    And mind you this sort of blocking can go either way. Going on and on about how something is bad and then almost immediately following with some explaination as to why the reverse cannot be true. In fact that Karen Healey article has a followup to a link that ties mansplaining to privilege and we all know that supposedly that in the realm of gender privilege only goes one way right? (Also look up female privilege, and female against male sexism for more examples of this.)

    There is a lot of pain on all sides of the gender discourse. There are a lot of old wounds on all sides of the gender discourse.

    True long term progress will remain a dream until they can be properly healed.

  4. PursuitAce says:

    Mansplaining and henpecking, two sides of the same coin. Never thought of it that way. And yes, I talk differently to women versus men. It’s always seemed to be necessary.

    • John Anderson says:

      I always thought henpecking was more a repetitive, unrelenting attempt to get a man to do something and not necessarily an attempt to offer a man unsolicited advice or impart inaccurate information.

      • That’s nagging, henpecking is the constant criticism leaving the man feeling like he can never do right, eg a mother criticising a lot how he looks after the kids.

    • Copyleft says:

      What you’re looking for is FEMSPLAINING: when a woman (often a radical feminist) tells a man how he feels, what he thinks, and why he holds the opinions he does. Because after all, she knows what it means to be a man much better than he does.

  5. Well, frankly, I find the term really annoying. Mansplaining. Why can’t we just say the guy in question is an idiot? That way, we know he’s a idiot because he’s an idiot, not because he has testicles. And for the record, I would also like to say that I have been LECTURED by women endlessly. It’s part of being a human being. We all lecture each other without regard to race, creed, or color. It’s one of our more endearing traits. The idea, once again, that its gendered is not supported by the facts.

    There, I’m all done with my little lecture.

    • Eagle34 says:

      Precisely, Mark.

      If a man is being an idiot or a know-it-all, just put it in that term. Don’t leap to the conclusion that he’s being mysogynistic.

      • I’m actually fine with calling it that, when a leap is not being made mind you. I’m also fine with calling women out the same way….

      • Mark Greene says:

        What I’m saying is a little more basic. Don’t make it that his gender is causal to his behavior.

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          There is a very specific feeling to being lectured and invalidated by a man who is acting paternalistic toward you, like you’re a little girl and he knows so much and you know so little.

          And while I believe women lecture men, and that it feels shitty, the feeling of having been “mansplained” is a very specific feeling. If a woman ‘splains to me in the same sort of tone, it feels different. As I said in my comment… Think about being “henpecked”. It feels different to have a man come to you and tell you a bunch of little things you’re doing wrong over and over than it does when a woman does it. First, because in general men approach criticism and critique to other men in a way that is different from women. As I said, this is because the way we talk and relate is gendered into us by society in ways we don’t even realize.

          It may not be great that we’ve gendered those terms. But they’re gendered for a reason. That reason is that it makes them more specific to the feeling elicited from the confrontation.

          • Sounds kinda familiar to hearing a woman tell me I don’t now X because I don’t have kids, or seeing men get criticized heavily over their parenting skills by golden-uterus syndrome mothers (individuals I mean, not a generalization of mothers). Both invalidate your ability and knowledge, dismissing it as wrong. I think there is quite a bit of womansplaining when it comes to female dominated areas though, such as childcare, although that could be specific too. It’s sad to see for instance one of those golden uterus mothers act as if the father is a complete bafoon incapable of looking after their child for an hour let alone a day.

            There’s also the fun part of femmsplaining where some feminists lecture male commentators on the world as if their theory is the only one that is valid. That makes me feel very invalidated as if we men don’t experience the world, usually those pesky internet radfems are the ones that do it. Haven’t seen an egal-feminist do it yet.

            All these splainings is making me thirsty!

            • John Anderson says:

              I have a direct supervisor who is a man and an indirect supervisor who is a woman. When the man gives me a project, he tells me what needs to be done and when it has to be completed by. When the woman gives me a project, she tells me what has to be done, when it has to be done by, how I should go about doing it, what resources I should use, etc. Then she’ll ask me if I understand sometimes multiple times. Then she’ll ask for updates and depending on whether she was busy it could be every 30 minutes to an hour. One guy got so frustrated that he told her that if she didn’t interrupt him so often, he would have been done already. Although I think part of that could be because she’s in a male dominated field.

          • Agreed. Its because I’ve never been splained to by a woman in the manner that men have splained at me. I suggest that that’s why the name has evolved. Then again, I’m not a man and don’t know what it feels like to be splained at by a woman. So I suspect the patronizing “You just don’t quite understand” tone, is similar.

          • There is a very specific feeling to being lectured and invalidated by a man who is acting paternalistic toward you, like you’re a little girl and he knows so much and you know so little.

            But that is your perception of it. You could be adding that feeling to men’s comments regardless of men’s actual tone.

            I am sure there are men who treat women as if women do not know anything. However, I am also sure that some women and many feminists assume men will treat women in a paternalistic way and then react to men based on that assumption.

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              Sure, I completely agree with that.

              But to what degree do men ask me every day here on GMP to hear them in what they’ve felt that women/society/feminists/whomever has done to them? And I do hear that. Just because I didn’t do it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. And there needs to be a certain set of words to describe those things. “Bitched out” and “Henpecked” are the ones that come to my mind as the closest equivalences. And yeah,tons of feminists wish the word “bitch” in all it’s non-dog breeding forms be eliminated. But as a woman, and a feminist, I still think that word has a specific meaning that is very useful in describing a specific type of berating of a person, most often by a woman. When a man does it, it’s got a different word because it feels different.

              And those experiences, let’s say they were yours and mine Jacob (though I’m certain in real life we’d never disagree!), mine of having been mansplained by you and yours of having been misunderstood to be mansplaining, would need to meet in the middle. I’d say, “Listen, I feel like you totally just mansplained me!” and hopefully you’d say, “I think you’re misunderstanding. I truly didn’t know that you understood how HTML worked.” And I’d say, “yeah, but I truly do know how to use HTML.” And you’d say, “I see that now. Sorry if it seemed like I was patronizing you, but next time let me know early on that you already knew.” and I’d say, “cool” and then we’d hug and it’d be good.

              And… scene.

            • But to what degree do men ask me every day here on GMP to hear them in what they’ve felt that women/society/feminists/whomever has done to them?

              This is different. We are not talking about what women feel that men have done to them. We are talking about using a phrase that feminists (who are the only people I know who use the phrase) know men will find insulting, arguing that it is fair to use because the phrase works for feminists and that men should just accept it.

              If you said to me, “Listen, I feel like you totally just mansplained me!” I would say, “Why do you think I’m explaining something to you?” I would not respond as you suggested because I would not apologize for making the mistake of speaking in detail about a subject with a woman while being male.

            • There is something about this that rubs me wrong…

              I’m not so young, black and male. I’ve absolutely had people be racist to me and had very different reactions then my peers due to race.

              The only time I would use a racialized term for it was if I objectively could call someone on racism as opposed to being an asshole.

              If I hear a racial epithet or reference to either my or the person I’m talking to’s race in a negative situation I can safely assume the person is racist/acting racist.

              However I am very careful about throwing that label around. (Overuse decreases its effectiveness and engenders a disrespect for the term.)

              If the patronizing situation could easily happen to a man with the exact same terminology than why not use patronizing as opposed to mansplaining?

          • Peter Houlihan says:

            You mean like how some women act like all men are children? ;)

            It seems to me that mansplaining is more in the ears of the listener than the mind of the ‘splainer.

            • It’s quite likely both, Peter. Some people patronize. Some people assume they are being patronized. Sometimes it’s both true.

            • Peter Houlihan says:

              Actually, sorry, that’s true. Some people are very patronising and it’s very much their intent.

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              I’m with Julie mostly, but I think that’s true of almost all insulting and demeaning things people do. People rarely mean to offend or diminish or silence. That doesn’t mean it’s not happening, or that people don’t get hurt.

            • Peter Houlihan says:

              Also a good point. I’d agree that sometimes an explaination goes farther than it needs to without the ‘splainer intending to be patronising.

          • “And while I believe women lecture men, and that it feels shitty, the feeling of having been “mansplained” is a very specific feeling. If a woman ‘splains to me in the same sort of tone, it feels different.”

            It feels different to you. But your first sentence sets up a comparison of the way mansplaining feels to a women and the way femsplaing feels to a man, and you seem to assume you are actually in a position to compare them.

            You aren’t. You don’t like a man invalidating your experiences? You are right. Then stop doing it to men, as you are doing here.

            Her’s one way they are different. Men grow up being femsplained to because women stil dominate child-rearing, both in the home and in schools. men grow up dependent on women for the very basics of life in ways that no woman in this society does in relation to men.

            So even in adult life it is very easy for a woman to assume the role of adult in charge if she wants. She can make remarks about manners or wording or a whole range of social interactions where traditional roles make her the putative expert, that come across very much as the adult lecturing the child. Is there any simialr context for mansplaining?

            Something else – manpslaining is an example of communication. That menas at least tow people are involved and the process is bilateral. You know your experience of receiving it, but what does that tell you about the experience or the intent of the person sending it? And why is that person’s experience less important than yours, if you truly want to see everything from all sides? Here you have men telling you that they observe men communicating with men and women in the same way, and that that way is a form of sharing.

            And you don’t experience it that way. Fine. But why then do you think your interpreation is correct and theirs is not? Bear in mind that your answer may well be conditioned by exactly the gynonormativity I mention above that little boys contend with every day, and that little girls see every day as the norm.

            Let’s turn this around. How would you like to see your efforts to discuss a man’s feelings with him described as a form of intrusive interrogation or a form of emotional groping? Because that is very often what men describe these experiences with women to be . It’s the dreaded “We have to talk…” you see referred to now and then with knowing nods.

            • Emotional-groping, pushing the boundaries of a person to open up? Sounds like an interesting concept.

  6. Eagle34 says:

    I think the term is pretty repulsive, to be honest.

    Not only does it sound like something out of high school, all too often I’ve seen it applied to shut out any constructive debate.

    It’s the same thing with “Check Your Priveledge”: Nothing but an exclusionary, insulting term.

    Joanna: “I don’t think the men who “mansplain” are trying to do anything bad. I don’t think they even know they’re doing it. They don’t think they’re being patriarchal or misogynistic.”

    Um, Joanna, this is what I hate about feminism: Automatic assumption of being misogynistic when a man might just be trying to DEFEND HIMSELF and STATE HIS OPINION. What in the hell is misogynistic about it? And I ask, why use such an exclusionary term?

    • Believe me when I say that I know how you feel and have experienced the outrageous use of such lingo but at the end of the day I do agree that in SOME cases its actually true. Just like with creep (don’t let some of the other articles that have been posted here full you, creep shaming is real but there are real creeps out there as well).

  7. Is this one of those Zen koans?

    Can you explain why you find the term repulsive or useful without splaining?

    More seriously – I’ve been subjected to this phenomenon in the scientific realm, but I view it more as a mode of communication and socialization that men (on average), seem to be comfortable with. Not so different from emotional-splaining we tend to use for social engagements.

    • “emotional-splaining”
      Can you expand on this, I am quite intrigued and it sounds like you’re onto something here…

    • John Anderson says:

      I was going to ask you to splain Zen koans, but it’s late or early depending on your perspective and didn’t think you’d be awake so I just looked it up on Google. In the spirit of the discussion, you can still splain it if you like. I won’t take offense.

  8. Mark Greene says:

    “I don’t think the men who “mansplain” are trying to do anything bad. I don’t think they even know they’re doing it. They don’t think they’re being patriarchal or misogynistic.”

    I’ve heard this said several times about gaslighting as well. That men don’t mean to be doing these things out of spite or something, they just “don’t know” they are doing it. Of course gaslighting pretty much has to be movie villain intentional but that’s another matter. I still heard this kind of comment.

    So, what we’re saying is that men aren’t mean, they’re just totally devoid of any form of self awareness or in the case of mansplaining any capacity to notice that they are boring the shit out of the woman they are in conversation with? (LOL!)

    Believe me, I’ve had a lot of stuff femsplained to me and it let it go on, because I’m polite that way. And because I mansplain like a mother fucker sometimes. Sometimes I just pull up short and say, “Oh, you know all this shit, right?”
    (I am laughing my ass off typing this. I’ve changed my mind. I’ve decided I love both these words. Mansplaining and Femsplaning… They are VERY FUNNY words.)

    Anyway, I just think we are a planet of splainers. And we can either mark it as a sign of gender difference or we can laugh about it and begin gently reminding each other when we, perhaps, have a doctorate in a given subject and might already be up to speed on it.

    By the way. This is my favorite quote line in the original post: “Bonus points if he is explaining how you are wrong about something being sexist!”

    IE: Please don’t attempt to debate anything I officially label as sexist.

    God, I’m rolling on the floor. What an firewall.

    • Well it could be that the men don’t see it as patronizing, and maybe haven’t had women in their lives call them up about the mansplaining. If this is the case I don’t blame men for not knowing, we’re not mind-readers:P. What are we teaching our boys (and girls for the equivalent) if they grow up to overexplain this stuff on autopilot?

  9. William says:

    1. Who says a man that’s “mansplaining” doesn’t have more knowledge on the subject than the woman ? Are we supposed to believe the woman in the discussion is automatically in the right ?

    2. The term is and will be used by someone to brand themselves as the “victor” in a discussion and shut down the the conversation.
    Just add this to “white privilege”, male privilege” & “misogynistic”.

    3. We’re suppose to believe that “MANsplaining” is only done by man, hence the placement of word “man” in the term.
    I’ve been in conversation with men & woman, young & old who were “MANsplaining”, i’ve heard about conversation where woman were “MANsplaining”.

    It doesn’t matter if men do this or not, the term itself is harmful to men.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Tell me exactly how it harms you.

      I’m not saying it doesn’t, I’m just curious how it harms you.

      • William says:

        It’s harmful because….

        It stereotype men, it’s thought of as something only men do which is experienced so much that a term needed to be created for it.
        Both men & woman have done it and experienced it, we don’t need a gender-based term for it.

        The term adds more fuel to the fire of a woman who believes she can’t be wrong, so man is already seem as wrong before he opens his mouth.
        If someone won’t even look at evidence that could disprove their claim, why should we take what they have to say seriously ?

    • Mark Neil says:

      “Who says a man that’s “mansplaining” doesn’t have more knowledge on the subject than the woman ? Are we supposed to believe the woman in the discussion is automatically in the right ?”

      I was meaning to make that point earlier, but was responding to someone and didn’t find a quote to loop the topic in. The articles definition of mansplaining does precisely that when it says ” or how you are wrong about something you are actually right about,” as if because the woman believes she’s right she must be. This idea is followed up in the “bonus points” section.

  10. SpudTater says:

    It is regularly used to shut down debate on feminist blogs, so I definitely see the sinister side of it.

    As a concept, it can be useful. And I think a lot of its sexist nature can be cancelled out by shortening it to ‘splaining. After all, there are so many axes of oppression/stereotyping out there, and it’s applicable to any of them. People can and do assume ignorance based not only on gender, but on race (especially if you have an accent), age, or disability. And yes, it happens to men also. My mother-in-law has ‘splained the most basic of cookery facts to me, despite the fact that I’ve cooked complex meals (including Christmas dinner) for her several times in the past!

    Still, any accusations of ‘splaining in a comments thread is a good sign that the conversation has spiralled out of control!

  11. I fully recognize how hurtful it is to have someone say it against you – especially when you aren’t doing it and they’re just flinging insults… But if you can hear what women mean when they say it … then we can all grow to a place where we don’t need those terms.

    I really do not get this. If you know people find the phrase insulting and hurtful, and you are noth trying to hurt anyone’s feelings, why would you use the phrase?

    • Jacobtk,

      There’s nothing to get. This is not unlike someone saying “If you could just understand why I discriminate, we’d all be better off…”

      This is rarely the case, and the individuals involved would probably disagree if we were discussing any form of discrimination that wasn’t gender.

      As it is, they’re going to do back flips and resort of subjective interpretations (e.g. “Maybe it doesn’t happen but it’s a *feeling*”) in order to convince themselves that this is a useful term for something other than discrimination.

      We can only hope that one day they will see the truth.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Would it be less hurtful if I told you that you were patronizing me? Or demeaning me?

      It’s hurtful because someone is being called out on a specific behavior.

      Tell me I’m bitching (when I’m bitching) or tell me I’m henpecking you (if I am). It’s gonna hurt, but I don’t think it damages women if you say it.

      • “It’s hurtful because someone is being called out on a specific behavior.”

        No, it is hurtful because it perpetuates a negative stereotype.

        There’s a reason it’s called “mansplaining” and not “personsplaining.”

      • Joanna, your comment reminded me of a quote from the Hagakure:

        By bringing shame to a person, how could one expect to make him a better man?

      • But it doesn’t work that way in practice. “Bitching” and “Henpecking” are loaded terms that generally insult women, and yet few acknowledge that mansplaining might be hurtful.

  12. It happens to me at nearly EVERY wedding I have ever photographed, and it’s never come from a woman. Ever. It’s always done in a very patronizing way. “So, what camera lens are you using, hmmm, no flash?” “You’re going with a WIDE angle?” (look of disbelief), “interesting choice of lens, well, you’re the pro I guess.” I don’t know if the point is to let me know that they also have some (super basic) knowledge of photography, or if they are just being patronizing and/or arrogant, but it’s NEVER done in a way that is anything less than rude. 9 times out of 10, it’s a very specific age range that engages in mansplaining, and even more so, a specific type of personality.

    • Mark Neil says:

      Every consider they are trying to start up a conversation with someone who clearly shares an interest with them? Lets look at your quotes:

      “So, what camera lens are you using, hmmm, no flash?”

      Tone will of course play a part here and all the quotes, but I see this as far more akin to trying to learn from you, get your reasoning. No flash could be seen as condescending, but my first impression (and I suspect it’s yours as well, whether you realise it or not, is that it was a question, not a criticism. I base this on your use of punctuation. Now, that said, As you were working, I don’t suspect you were receptive to being picked up, but to him, it was a wedding. And showing interest in a woman’s interests, and asking for her opinions seem like easy icebreakers to me.

      “You’re going with a WIDE angle?” (look of disbelief)

      Disbelief, not dismissal of disdain? Could it possibly be he didn’t understand your reasoning for using that lens and wished to express that lack of understanding. Perhaps it’s just a difference in communication styles between the genders. Think of it this way, men are stereotypically unwilling to ask for directions (this is a stereotype, but there is some degree of truth to it…), yet, men have no problems making/challenging others to explain themselves. That guy didn’t ask you why you were using a WIDE lens, but then, what he did do is imply you needed to explain why you’re using a WIDE lens (see what was done there. Now, I can’t be certain this is actually what happened, but this is how many guys got around the “don’t ask for help cause it makes you look weak gender box, they would instead challenge others to explain themselves or be seen to look the fool. At least, this is my experience with male communication. perhaps others could chime in if this is their experience as well?).

      “”interesting choice of lens, well, you’re the pro I guess.””

      This is a combination of the above “WIDE angle” and just being a douche about it. I’ve had this done as well (by both genders).

      “I don’t know if the point is to let me know that they also have some (super basic) knowledge of photography, or if they are just being patronizing and/or arrogant”

      it’s not possible they were being legitimately currious or chatty (hitting on you?) in a not so directly coming out and asking you to teach him stuff kind of way? Don’t get me wrong. I know there are plenty of people will treat you like that, but is it possible your own perseptions played a part in how you took their responses? After all, if hitting on you/chatting you up was a factor, would you really be surprised it was generally a guy doing it?

      • I’m not a cynic, but this is clearly NOT the case. how about i add this to the look of disbelief: chuckle, and eyeroll. things are communicated in person that i cannot convey with only type. i’m extremely personable when i am on the job, but this type of thing is very frustrating. it is NOT an attempt to start a business or hobby related conversation. i wouldn’t have even bothered commenting on this post if i were even on the fence about it being patronizing.

        • i have had people “talk shop” with me on the job, and it’s just an entirely different vibe/tone/ etc. of course women can be patronizing too, it’s not gender specific to patronize, but in my personal experience, after shooting over, I don’t know, 70-80 weddings, this particular brand of talking down to me, or trying to tell me how my own equipment works (when some of them cannot even got the make/model of my camera correct) has only come from men. I really wish I knew why.

          • Possibly some just want to be helpful and it’s a desperate attempt, it does sound like many are just patronizing lil shits though.

          • John Anderson says:

            @ Annie

            Do you notice a difference when you “talk shop” with men in the same industry? In my department, most of the techs are cool, but the most condescending guy (with everyone not just women) is also the least skilled. I’m wondering if it’s to hide insecurity.

      • SpudTater says:

        Dude, please don’t question somebody’s personal experience.

        • Mark Neil says:

          Seriously? Are you suggesting I’m not allowed to even QUESTION what her experiences were? I can’t suggest that MAYBE, she might have injected a motive that didn’t exist? I can understand if I was denying her experiences actually happened the way she claims, but to say I can’t even QUESTION her experiences? Why shouldn’t I?

          • SpudTater says:

            Yes, seriously. If she has stated that this regularly happens to her, this is her experience and you should respect it. She is the best judge of whether something is ill-intended or not, not some second-hand analysis over the internet from somebody who’s never met her.

            Amie has generously shared her account of what it is like to be a professional female photographer. You simply cannot provide a personal account that contradicts that. If you’re not inclined to believe her, you could cast around for opinions from other women in similar careers — but from what I’ve heard in the past, they will be backing her up to one degree or another!

            • Mark Neil says:

              She’s a better judge than me, who wasn’t there, but that doesn’t mean she can’t be wrong. That doesn’t mean she might have interpreted it through a biased lens and not considered alternatives. and that CERTAINLY doesn’t mean she is above reproach. I can’t believe you seriously, honestly believe I do not have a right to question her experiences for misinterpretations. Who do you think you are? Who do you think she is?

              Furthermore, Amie responded on her own and defended her position, as she’s a big girl, she can do that you know. I did not push that further. Your acting like I told her her experiences didn’t happen the way she remembers them, and I did nothing of the sort. I ASKED her if there was a possible alternative, and when she answered, I left it at that.

              ” If you’re not inclined to believe her, you could cast around for opinions from other women in similar careers ”

              Ah, but because I’m a man, while I can attain other women’s opinions, I’m not allowed one of my own, or at least, I’m not allowed to express that opinion openly.

              Amie, I’m curious, do you find this persons protection of you in this manner helpful, offensive, other? Cause if it was me, I’d find it offensive to have someone claim my interpretation of events was beyond question, like I’m too frail to realize I might have made a mistake.

            • SpudTater says:

              Of course you’re not allowed a personal opinion on what it’s like to be a woman. Why would you even think that? Are you now or have you ever been one? If not, then you’re going to have to stop guessing, and ask women their opinions.

              The fact that you even feel the need to question this is not so much an insult to any individual woman as it is an insult to basic logic and common sense.

  13. Peter Houlihan says:

    I hadn’t understood what the term actually referred to until yesterday, but reading it now it really shouldn’t be a gendered term, I’ve seen both genders do this to both genders.

    If some women react worse to patronising speech by men (rather than by other women) that’s fine, all feelings are valid and should be explored. But if that feeling is purely dependant on the genitalia of the patroniser it may have more to do with their own internal processes than anything patronising men do different than patronising women.

    • Peter,

      Usually I agree with you, but I cannot get behind this sentiment:
      “all feelings are valid and should be explored”

      Some feelings, and I’m thinking specifically of those associated with generalized negative stereotypes (such as the fear that comes from having your child watched by a man), are completely invalid and need to be recognized as such.

      We do not gain by encouraging the “exploration” of the emotions that support bigotted reactions.

      • I propose that the exploration of feelings and attitudes is important in the process of dismantling bigotry. Exploring them doesn’t mean that the result is the feeling is valid (valid meaning correct). A person has feelings and those feelings may have helped shape opinions which may then feel like truth. Looking into the feelings (I am afraid of men/women) and determining where they came from (I had a negative personal experience and also see my feelings mirrored in media) may help to reduce the truthiness of the feeling. Exposure to new experiences may mean new feelings.
        Valid, in the sense I see Peter using it, means “you have these feelings” not “these feelings are correct.” PErhaps a better phrase would be “all feelings may exist and feel real for the person feeling them and should be explored.”
        I’ve experienced many feelings that I’ve examined and decided weren’t useful to me, false, based on bad information. If I’d simply held the feelings and refused to examine their genesis, would I be better off?

        • Look, what people want to do with their own feelings is their own business.

          Where is becomes a problem is when I, as not the person who originated the feeling, am expected to deal with it.

          As a man, I should not have to deal with other people’s negative feelings, based upon unfair stereotypes, about whether or not I can be trusted to watch their kids.

          Similarly, I should not have to put up with labels like “mansplaining” simply because there are women out their who experience this feeling based upon a negative stereotype.

          If you need to explore feelings in order to discharge them, that’s fine, but you need to bear your own burden.

          I do not owe anyone anything simply because I am a man, and it is unreasonable to ask me to put up with the idea of “mansplaining” simply because there are people out there who “feel” it.

          • As a woman, I should also not have to deal with other people’s negative feelings, based on unfair stereotypes about whether or not I value men for their utility etc etc. Neither should I have to put up with labels like “gold-digging’ or “henpecking” simply because there are men out there who experience this feeling etc etc.

            But guess what. I interact with hundreds of people in a day, many of whom (most of whom) have feelings and opinions that may or may not have anything to do with me. While I don’t owe anyone anything simply because I am a human being, I don’t think it is unreasonable to take into consideration that everyone comes to the table with a story and that how I react to that story either helps or harms them. Which does not mean being a doormat, but it does mean having empathy as well as boundaries. I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask you, or anyone else for that matter to consider that words have histories and that there may (or may not) be rational reasons for those histories to have come about.

            How do you “put up with” an idea anyway. It’s a word and an experience. If you don’t do it, don’t worry about it. I don’t hen peck. If there are comments here about henpecking, I don’t much worry about it. Should I find it unreasonable for men to discuss the idea and thus have to put up with it? It doesn’t apply to me.

            I see people all over these thread discharging feelings, telling their stories, totalizing experiences, and working very hard to figure out that place between brick wall boundaries and empathy for another person’s experience. I think that connection point is important in how we as humans relate to each other. For me, that means cutting more slack in the process of figuring all this stuff out, then less.

            • I agree with you that you shouldn’t have to put up with ideas like “gold-digging.”

              I am not sure that “hen-pecking” has been a thing since the 1960s, but if you say so, then yes, you should not have to deal with it either.

              I am not asking you to put up with any of this.

              I was further under the impression that this was why we were all here.

              I believe that a good man does not recklessly accuse women of “gold-digging” because thee term has become gendered, and perpetuates a negative stereotype. Likewise I do not think it is reasonable for a woman to use a term like “mansplaining” which is inherently gendered and perpetuates a negative stereotype.

              Yet here we are, with a spirited defense of the “right” to use mansplaining. I am honestly curious if as spirited a defense of “gold digging” would be accepted.

              Should I tell my male friends that they have every right to fear gold-digging, because it is a real and valid fear?

            • I have no idea if you should do that or not, but since I’ve often seen men here claim that women are hypergamous, marry up etc and only value men for their utility and monetary worth, I suspect those folks are already afraid of gold digging.
              I am not afraid of splaining no matter what gender it comes from, I”m merely annoyed by it.

            • Julie, can we make some kind of a deal where you will stop bringing up “men here” so long as I (and I already do this) do not hold you to the statements by RadFems?

              I’m a little tired of being told “Oh but a man on here once said…” as a defense for an extreme viewpoint.

              Just as feminists should not be allowed to define their own feminism, I think it’s only fair that men be allowed to define their own viewpoints.

            • Mike, I”m merely bringing up what I’ve heard men say here. I believe they fear those things because they’ve said they do. Should I not believe them, because they seem to be defining that viewpoint and I’m not telling them not to? Which is why I don’t know what you should tell your friends/compatriots.

            • And frankly, I know hundreds more men NOT here that don’t fear those things and I believe them too. I believe people when they tell me about themselves. I”m pretty clear that many people who have told me they are fearful of being valued only for their utility mean it. And that the ones who don’t fear it, also mean it.
              The radfems? Maybe they mean what they say and you can believe them if you like. What i say? I’d hope you believe me.

            • I think there’s a difference between believing what people say and granting validity to their feelings.

              I have feelings all the time that are completely invalid. I recognize and deal with them.

              When we see a term like “mansplaining” enter the vocabulary, it suggests that the internal process which should have taken place failed to take place.

              Instead of someone thinking to themselves “Is it irrational to blame the behavior of this individual on his gender?” the mechanism broke and someone decided to say “Men, in general, will exhibit the following negative behavior…”

              This was picked up by others whose own internal mechanisms broke down, and who sought to justify their own irresponsible beliefs.

              Gold-digging probably entered the vocabulary in a similar manner.

              But this does not mean that we should grant these beliefs credence. A fear of Gold Digging may be real, but that does not make it valid. Nor does it mean the person experiencing the fear should be free to justify the fear.

              Likewise we should not try and justify the feeling of “mansplaining.”

            • Um…there shouldn’t be a “not” in that last setence.

              Feminists SHOULD be allowed to define their own feminism…

          • Joanna Schroeder says:

            First, if anyone could explain to me how “mansplaining” has any relation to someone trusting you with children, I’d love to hear it.

            I know that there are many negative stereotypes of men that damage the way society sees men in relation to children, but this one isn’t it.

            Second, women experience this not because of a negative stereotype of MEN but because of something that SOME men actually DO, Mike.

            Maybe you don’t do it, so then you shouldn’t worry about it. Right?

            Do you also think we should rid the world of “bitching” and “henpecking”?

            Just curious.

            • I haven’t heard the term “henpecking” used anywhere except for an episode of Mad Men. I do not know where you live/who you interact with, but it is difficult for me to believe this is a “real term.” Maybe it was 50 years ago, but not today.

              Both mansplaining and trusting men to watch children are centered around negative stereotypes. That’s it. That’s the relationship. There are more apt relationships, but when I use words to describe them my comments often wind up “in moderation.” Over time I’ve tried to use words that are less likely to trigger that particular function.

              Next, it IS a negative stereotype just as all negative stereotypes are based on something that SOME members of the negatively stereotyped group have actually DONE. Some members of group X have actually committed a lot of crime, so group X is labeled as criminals. This is does not mean i is not a negative stereotype.

              “Maybe you don’t do it, so then you shouldn’t worry about it. Right?” May this was unintentional, but this is the most common defense I’ve heard to every racial stereotype ever.

              As for b*tching, I grew up in an area where its use wasn’t gendered. It simply meant “to complain profusely” and was readily applied to men.

              If most people feel it is gendered, then it probably shouldn’t be used. Because it involves a string that most word-filters will cut out, it also isn’t used as regularly as “mansplaining” is on several websites.

          • Joanna Schroeder says:

            And finally, you can go about in your life saying, “I shouldn’t have to have empathy for you because of an experience I didn’t cause” but my gut feeling here is that an attitude like that isn’t going to win you many friends or great intimacies.

            I could be wrong, but “it’s not my problem” tends to put people off from trusting a person.

            • And should we tell People of Color that racism is “their problem”?

            • What? It’s their problem and it’s connected to people causing the problem, thus other people’s problem too. And it’s my problem even if I’m not racist, because I’m part of a system that it exists in and I can either help reduce it by being observant to attitudes, feelings and situations that reduce it, or I could say, “It’s not my problem and I shouldn’t have to put up with people assuming things about me that I didn’t do.”
              I believe Joanna is saying that the latter attitude isn’t helpful. You may not be racist, but that doesn’t mean you don’t live in a system where racism affects you as well.
              Is that what you mean?

            • I mean that racism should be dealt with by the racists.

              It is unfair to put the burden on People of Color to correct racism. Just as it is unfair to put the burden on men to correct mansplaining.

              The burden must be born by those who originate the invalid feelings in the first place.

            • I think racism should be dealt with by anyone who is affected by it or in a system where it exists. If I see something occur that is racist, and it has nothing to do with me at all, why wouldn’t I comment on it, learn from it, teach from it etc? Or should I just ignore it since “it has nothing to do with me”
              Perhaps we see this very differently. I view this as the water we all swim in. We are all affected to some degree by the history of race in this country, slavery’s legacy etc. For me as a white person to say, “well I figure I’m not racist, so I don’t have to participate, pay attention to my feelings or the feelings around a subject” seems…cut off and detached in a way that I don’t think is actually realistic given that I live and participate in the same system as others.

              So I see gender and other isms similarly. I am not a man, why bother participating here at GMP where the issues don’t pertain to me. It’s on men to take care of correcting misandry, right? I don’t need to deal with it?

              But I am part and parcel of humanity and interact with men and care for men, as human beings. So why shouldn’t I work to correct the problems as an ally to men?

              Or maybe I’m not really getting what you are saying. I suppose I just don’t see that there is a way to take racism or isms and place them completely in the laps of those that are ok with their beliefs and expect change to happen without the rest of us working together to make that change.

            • Mark Neil says:

              ” I view this as the water we all swim in. We are all affected to some degree by the history of race in this country, slavery’s legacy etc. For me as a white person to say, “well I figure I’m not racist, so I don’t have to participate, pay attention to my feelings or the feelings around a subject” seems…cut off and detached in a way that I don’t think is actually realistic given that I live and participate in the same system as others.”

              Sounds very much like an argument I routinely make, often argued against with “I don’t feel that way” and “it shouldn’t be that way”, no real acknowledgment that “this is the water we all swim in”.

            • It is unfair to put the burden on People of Color to correct racism. Just as it is unfair to put the burden on men to correct mansplaining.

              The burden must be born by those who originate the invalid feelings in the first place.
              There is a bit of a split when it comes to mansplaining.

              On one hand the men (as in its a subset of all men) that do engage in that behavior do have the burden on them to stop doing it but at the same time the people who use the term mansplaining to shut men out because they are male also have a burden on them to stop doing it.

              It’s similar to rape. I’ll agree that the onus should be on rapists to stop rape, not on all men in general just because of shared gender.

            • As for rapists per se, yes rapists should stop raping. But given that it’s quite possible they are damaged or ifferent in some way as to rape in the first place how would we assume that asking them to stop would work? So the onus is on reporting, police work, and legal strateggies designed to make very uncomfortable for the rapist. So I think it means all of us have a part in stopping rape and also the systems where rape develops. Prisons come to mind, for one. If rapists are sociopaths why would they stop? If racists believe that racism is right then where does the change come from? Others affected by the racism. I hate using my phone for typing.

      • Peter Houlihan says:

        I mean all feelings are valid in the sense that the subject is genuinely feeling them and labelling them as “invalid” isn’t the same as dealing with them and won’t make them go away. This isn’t to say that some feelings don’t provoke problematic behaviour.

      • John Anderson says:

        @ Mike L

        I don’t know that the feelings themselves are invalid. The way that they are acted upon though has consequence. I know that regardless of whether my favorite sports team wins or loses, my life remains unaltered, but I still feel good when they win and am not happy when they lose. It’s OK to feel that way.

  14. The thing about mansplaining is that it’s not actually real.

    We know that women do it too (try talking to a female Gender Studies major when you’re a man, it’s not going to work).

    So if it’s not gendered, why is there still a gendered term? Well, we’re told that it has to do with a “feeling.”

    The thing about feelings is that they exist solely within the minds of the people feeling them. If a feeling is negative (fear, anger), then it is up to the individual involved to understand why and to deal with it on their own.

    Moreover, a great deal of negative feelings lack legitimate justification in the first place.

    As we’ve discussed at length on the GMP, there is often a kind of fear that people (or either gender) feel when considering whether or not to let a man watch (or teach!) their children. This is an irrational fear built upon stereotypes of men as predators. It is offensive, unhelpful, and hurtful.

    Does how “real” this fear is detract from how offensive or hurtful it is? Is it the job of men to “understand and accept” that people are afraid to let them watch their children?

    No, of course not. It is the job of the people who FEEL the fear to GET OVER IT.

    Mansplaining is little different. It is an attempt to legitimize feelings rooted in a negative stereotype. It is not the job of men to understand these feelings. It is the job of the women feeling them to get over it.

    • Do you believe that there are men out there that patronize other people, men or women?
      I’d say there are.
      There are men who patronize women. And yes every other gender combination.
      Is it the job of women to get over feeling patronized? I’d say they should definitely push back and say, quit the fuck patronizing me. And then the man should maybe catch a clue about his personal interactions.
      And yes, every other gender combination.

      • You are swapping “mansplaining” for patronizing. This is no an accurate swap because the one term is gendered, and the other is not.

        If people are feeling patronized, then they should feel free to speak up about it.

        If people are feeling that men are unfairly patronizing to women as a result of their gender, then is a negative stereotype, and it must be dealt with by the people who grant the stereotype credence, not the population at large.

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          Huh?

          • If you are mugged by a black man, feel free to get mad at the mugger.

            If you get mad at black people in general as a result of the mugging, you need to work on this, not invent a term for your irrational feelings and then try to justify them because “Some black people have actually mugged me.”

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          Wait, I think I get it.

          Mansplaining is a form of patronizing. But it’s a specific type. A type I’ve detailed a few times in these comments.

          The population at large is who grants merit to the idea of women needing to be daddy-ed through things. It’s not every individual, but society at large.

          I’m out. I’m getting too annoyed by the impressive lack of understanding in this conversation.

          • “I’m out. I’m getting too annoyed by the impressive lack of understanding in this conversation.”

            Yes Joanna, there’s no such thing as disagreement, only people who “don’t understand.”

            • Mike – let me provide some rationale…with a more specific example – auto mechanic expertise.

              In the above context, I feel confident stating that, on average, and in terms of better than a coin flip, men assume that we don’t have as much expertise as they do. It is indeed a stereotype, but one that could be classified as factual. In the same vein, it is a factual statement that minority X statistically commits more crime by proportion.

              In the auto mechanic context, a male that uses the stereotype recklessly can come across as patronizing. The irony is that the woman who uses the men as patronizing stereotype is also being reckless. My definition of discrimination is the treating of an individual by the average trait of a group they share some associations. Individuals are not groups – groups are a statistically factual representation of reality and when it comes to social graces, false positives, with regards to stereotypes, can be very damaging.

              The issue I have is with reckless use of stereotypes, meaning the implications behind the usage. Near every time I’ve seen the use of the phrase “mansplaining”, there sang an implication of sinister intent, misogyny, bad faith etc.

              I do believe that mansplaining is indeed gendered, meaning statistically better than a coin flip, with caveats around specific spheres were women tend to exert more clout by default: gender discussions for example. I’ve witnessed tons of femsplaining in discussions around gender and emotions. The projection of motive is where it all falls apart in a hurry: a male piping up to a female on turbo engines (not knowing the female is an expert), may be doing so to socialize, try to assist based on a factual stereotype, think she is cute and wants to get to know her, may be a super duper expert himself and like that sort of conversation, may lack other social skills, may not know how to start a conversation in other ways, may be insecure but for turbo engines, may be puffing his chest like I sometimes puff mine with a push up bra, or may be an asshole know it all goof ball. It’s a reckless stereotype to zoom in on the last of the list of all possible possibilities.

              But – men do suffer a utility model and are hence more prone to mansplaining – meaning better than a coin flip. Women suffer the curse of turning too many externals internally. It’s truly a match made in hell.

            • I like this comment a great deal.

            • Great comment!

            • Mark Neil says:

              Agreed. Well said.

            • I agree the comment is great. To Elissa’s list I would add another. Many men mansplain because it is their way of thinking through something. My Dad does this. He tells you obvious things in order to explain his reasoning from beginning to end. Hell I do this. And he hates being interrupted because it interrupts his train of thought.

              In fact I often go for long walks and have imaginary conversations in my head where I am explaining something to someone or a group of people in order to think something through. In some cases of I lose my train of thought I start my conversation from the beginning and this can last hours.

            • Is there such a thing as, I dunno, reverse mansplaining? I had an Ex who came to me with some problem with her car. The conversation, roughly, went like this:

              “It’s making some weird noises like a pinging sound. What the heck is wrong with it?”

              “How should I know?” (I am lucky if I can change a tire correctly.)

              “Well, you’re a guy aren’t you? Go fix it”

              You can see why she’s an ex. Honestly I should have tried to fix it for her, I inevitably would have broken something important and probably cost her twice the amount to fix. Would have been hilarious.

  15. Joanna… would you mind mansplaining to me why you are still here bogged down in this mansplaining marathon? Eh?

    • Oh. Uh. Never mind.

      • Ricky Ricardo: “LUUUUU—CYY!! You haaave some ‘splaining to do…!”

        • All I know is, while my son and I were practicing piano (he’s played for a few months, and I”ve played for years), he totally boysplained to me how middle C was in the middle. I had to stop and figure out if I should check him, or recognize it as him trying to show me what he knew.
          It was kind of hilarious, given this whole thread.

          • Better be careful. He’s trying to get an early start on exerting his “male privilege” over you. Next thing you know he’ll be trying to say you shouldn’t vote, not be ‘allowed’ to play sports, and that your only role in life is to get married and have babies.

            Or so I hear…

            • I know. I’d better start doing something vaguely misandric.

            • Haha.

              Here’s what you do. Assume that he is going to grow up into a rapist and then shame him for it. I know that calls for assuming he is going to be a sex offender when he’s barely started to develop anything in the ball park of sexuality (much less anything about consent). And then if/when he realizes what you are doing is wrong gaslight him by telling him he only thinks that way because he is denying his male privilege.

            • Man, I was just planing on rolling my eyes at his soccer game. I’m too tired to do all that other stuff!

            • (I’m so loving taking a chance to lighten the mood around here on this post.)

              Oh the ‘men are brutes’ method? Not a bad choice. But you might have to get a little bit more active about it. At least make the occasional offhand comment about how brutish he is or something. Maybe through in a ‘barbarian’ crack.

            • OMG yes. I’m actually proud of his game lately. He’s got a GF and he’s 8.

          • I know that you’re being slightly facetious here, but that’s often how kids learn and are encouraged to learn – by repeating something that the adult in question already knows.

            • Um, I”m being entirely facetious.

            • And as someone with kids and who works with students, I know that’s a manner in which they learn. I was just amused by the timing, given the thread yesterday. That’s why I thought it would be amusing to post it.

            • I realized I was sorta ‘splaining to you :(

              But I do think that a big part of encouraging learning is to allow people to be proud of what they’ve learned, and I appreciate that my own parents indulged me in that way.

              I’ve known people, both men and women, who repeat the same stories sometimes, and I indulge them because I don’t want to say “heard it before.”

            • I didn’t take it the wrong way, no worries. ;)

        • That’s exactly what I was thinking when I sent this post in. I meant to ask Joanna if she could find a creative commons photo of Ricky Ricardo. Would have been epic.

  16. Eric M. says:

    As Oprah herself said: “Men are solution-oriented.” So, when we see/hear/learn of a problem, we tend to go straight into problem solving / solution identifying mode. Le’ts eliminate the problem now. No need to even talk about it. Make it go away. Period.

    In my experience, women often want to “talk through/about” problems, not just wanting an instant, “do this”, sometime even when they recognize the solution themselves. My wife tells me that she feels better talking about it, expressing how she feels about it, and eventually arriving at a conclusion, rather than laser focusing on the solution straight away.

  17. All I know is that I’ve seen people get told they are “mansplaining” simply for being a man offering an opinion a woman disagrees with.

    • I propose a new word: “Fembuttal” [fem-BUH-tuhl] – A dismissive way for a feminist to claim victory in a debate by characterizing disagreement as a failure to understand, or defeating an opposing argument by calling it “mansplaining”.

      (To keep it gendered in a fair way, if a man does roughly the same thing, it’s “masculogic”.)

      Also, to describe the phenomenon of a man *accidentally* over-explaining to a woman who feels patronized, I suggets the more man-friendly label: elaborbation. “I’m a professional wedding photographer, I don’t need your input on what lens to use.” “Oh, pardon me. I was just elaborbating, but I’ll leave you alone now. [Walks away.] Hey, DJ! When are we going to hear some Macarena up in this joint?!”

      • “Hey, DJ! When are we going to hear some Macarena up in this joint?!”

        The answer to that question should, legally, be “never”

  18. Melenas says:

    Oh the delicious hypocrisy. Feminists want their feelings and experiences accepted as absolute truth but will immediately tell a man he’s flat-out wrong if his feelings or experiences contradict feminist theory in any way.
    (If you don’t believe me, try going to any feminist forum and talk about how you don’t feel particularly privileged as a man.)

    It seems from my experience and a lot of the comments here that a lot of “mansplaining” is actually just normal male communication. In other words, much of “mansplaining” is just another facet of gynocentrism – assuming that the female way of doing things is automatically the right way and demanding that all men conform to it in mixed-gender spaces.

  19. Alright explain something to me.

    “mansplaining” in this comment thread has been compared to terms such as “henpecking” and “bitching” …but women have been spending the last few decades saying that henpeck and bitching are sexist terms that rely on negative stereotypes of women

    …but we’re supposed to believe that “mansplaining” has a valid and useful purpose in the english language.

    Why?

  20. PursuitAce says:

    The real question is why does any adult let another person lecture them….unless they’re getting paid to listen?

  21. Alrighty, I haven’t read every single comment on here, but it seems to me a lot of them are running along a similar vein – basically saying that ‘mansplaining’ is just the way men speak, and that by labelling it as such and suggesting it’s a bad thing, we (mostly feminists) are somehow saying that men should conform to the way women speak. So I’d like to examine that for a moment.

    At the heart of the concept of mansplaining is the lack of consideration of the woman’s perspective and abilities when speaking to her. It’s about being considerate and polite, and exerting a little bit of empathy when speaking to someone. It’s about understanding that your words can affect the person you’re talking to, and sometimes in an unintentional and negative way. So, if ‘mansplaining’ isn’t something men do just to women, but rather just the way men speak…then I’m left wondering why men speak to each other with such disregard for each other’s feelings.

    We’ve had multiple articles here at GMP talking about how men are actually just as capable of the full range of human emotions as women are. We have all sorts of comments that come in about men who have had their emotions denied by society, even when they’ve been as serious as being a victim of abuse, all because of the traditional social norm that suggests men don’t have emotions. Men, you all seem to be saying that you want society to stop stifling your emotions, and I agree with you. Let’s let men emote.

    But if ‘mansplaining’ is just the way men talk to each other…well then that’s just continuing the problem of stifling men’s emotions, of assuming that men don’t have as wide a range of emotions as women.

    So I don’t think women (or feminists) are trying to force men to conform to the way women speak. Rather, we keep hearing you all say you want to be freer to express your emotions, and we are just pointing out what that means for interpersonal communication.

    • “So, if ‘mansplaining’ isn’t something men do just to women, but rather just the way men speak…then I’m left wondering why men speak to each other with such disregard for each other’s feelings.”

      Interesting thought.

      • Transhuman says:

        Men don’t see speaking about something another person knows as being condescending. It isn’t that men don’t have a full range of emotions, it is that this form of behaviour doesn’t trigger a feeling of inferiority in the same manner as it appears it does with women. I’m interested to know if women have the same feeling of being femsplained when a woman tells them something they already know. I believe it must happen, I’ve had things I know explained to me by women, it was refreshing to have a sharing conversation.

        • It’s not merely “speaking about something another person knows”. Things men very close to me (a woman they would describe as intelligent) have explained to me:

          -That I cannot jump from my second year in my undergrad straight to a PhD programme.
          -That I should eat my hot food while it’s still hot before my cold food.
          -That I should not bring a heavy purse hiking. Not that I’ve done so before or had plans to, but just in case that was something I was gonna do.
          -That I should pay my Visa off before other bills, because the interest rate is highest. Says the guy who didn’t do his taxes for ten years to the woman who has done her own business taxes as well as her family taxes, and managed her family finances, for twelve years.
          -That if I DID eventually want to get off a bench to go walk to a store I just said I don’t want to go to, that it’s only a block away. That store in my neighbourhood that I walk by almost every day.
          -That neuroscience is hard and competitive and you have to be good at math and biology.
          -That I can make choices in my life. No really, that it’s my choice to make choices.
          -And just today: “Natasha if you are looking for one answer or one link [to help you feel better about climate change] you are not going to find it. This is a very complicated world wide issue. China is a major player, more do [sic] then [sic] the US is… Keep studying and keep becoming informed. Meanwhile breath deeply and plant a tree.”

          THIS is mansplaining. It is gobsmacking obviousness communicated in the sweetest, most “helpful” way but men “just trying to help”.

          • *by men “just trying to help”.

          • Interesting, I hear that type of explaining from both men and women. For some of those I’m not so sure it’s from a place of “they think you don’t know it” but more that they are just creating a discussion, sharing knowledge (to which people usually add theirs in). But if it’s only men who do that to you then there is a problem, maybe where I live it’s becoming everyone-splainin.

            Part of it could be that men are often raised to give advice when they are talked to. The old problem of men giving advice instead of listening plays a part there. What may be happening is men are thinking you’re ASKING them for advice.

            There are times that men will just talk about that stuff for the hell of it, it creates a discussion and you can pickup on new information, or reinforce existing information. Hell it becomes automatic after a while if you’re around men a lot, and even worse if you are around 99 people and are use to having to explain stuff over n over so you just start it automatically. I think the best idea really is to ignore the parts you don’t need, I do that all the time when talking to men. I don’t see it as condescending, I let them say what they have to say or cut them off n speak about something else if needed.

            I’ve heard of fights between the genders where women come to a man to talk about something, he offers advice and it annoys her because she wants him to listen. Then the reverse case of a man coming to a woman for advice, she basically agree’s with his words, listens, n doesn’t offer any advice. 2 styles of speech that can cause conflict because people aren’t direct enough. Men are accustomed usually to someone speaking to them, and an expectation of an opinion or advice, “how to fix” the situation hangs over their head.

            I’d advise next time to say something about appreciating their help but you weren’t looking for advice. I wonder how many instances of mansplaining are really men thinking she wants advice/something fixed and he’s doing his best to try help. These are just my theories, I could be very wrong.

            @Transhuman
            “Men don’t see speaking about something another person knows as being condescending. It isn’t that men don’t have a full range of emotions, it is that this form of behaviour doesn’t trigger a feeling of inferiority in the same manner as it appears it does with women.”

            I think you have a point here. Either women are expecting men to be condescending at times, which worsens it, or they just are not use to how men communicate. If men are fine with it and women are seeing it as condescending then maybe the problem isn’t with the men, but how the women are taking it. But I’d say it also depends on how he treats her, an overall condescending attitude will probably amplify the male-sharinginfo-speak into mansplaining. Could be a mix of the two, or for some people it’s the former, others the latter.

          • Mmm… no, these were not instances of someone thinking I was looking for advice. Because I didn’t ask anything or say anything or present a problem. This was coddling, parenting, advice and comments offered out of nowhere.

            Women NEVER do this to me. Women never point out to me that grass is green and the sky is blue.

        • “Men don’t see speaking about something another person knows as being condescending. It isn’t that men don’t have a full range of emotions, it is that this form of behaviour doesn’t trigger a feeling of inferiority in the same manner as it appears it does with women.”

          I haven’t heard anyone say that “mansplaining” makes women in general feel inferior. What I’ve heard is that it’s annoying and conveys the impression that the one doing the “mansplaining” is making unflattering assumptions about the other. I’m a man, and that kind of behavior irritates me as well. To say “that’s just how men talk” is a cop out. It’s an indelicate and obtuse way of communicating with other people. There are social factors that lead to “mansplaining,” sure, but it’s still a learned behavior and not essential to “maleness.”

          • There are social factors that lead to “mansplaining,” sure, but it’s still a learned behavior and not essential to “maleness.””

            That suggests you think men “shouldn’t” talk like that, not that men “don’t” talk like that. Do you deny that, at this point in time, whether you think it’s a bad idea or not, this IS how men “tend” to communicate? We’re not discussing how things would work out in happy fantasy land, after all, in that magical place, mansplaining wouldn’t need to be discussed because it wouldn’t exist, right?

            “It’s an indelicate and obtuse way of communicating with other people.”

            Whereas I find it to be an efficient and astute way of communicating with other people.

            And nobody said it was “essential” to maleness, just that it was common to men (though I would point you to this article before you start making claims that methods of communication entirely social constructs).

            • When someone says something lie “men don’t see speaking about something another person knows as being condescending,” I assume they are speaking for all men. I assume they are implying that there is something essentially “male” about that behavior. I don’t consider “mansplaining” to be essentially male.

              To clarify, because I’m pretty sure we’re using different definitions here, mansplaining is when a man talks down to a woman about something the woman knows more about because he assumes the woman must not know anything about the subject they are talking about, regardless of the credentials the woman presents. To take an example from real life, it’s when a man takes the controller from the hands of a female video game journalist and plays for her, spilling fluff about the “cute graphics,” without even considering the possibility that the *video game journalist* might want to actually *play* the game herself. It’s when a man denies a woman the respect he would yield to another person. Because it *is* rude when someone, anyone, who knows *nothing* about a subject insists they are right and the person who has spent time actually studying the subject is wrong. And when you add sexism, you get mansplaining.

              It’s not that only men do this, and it’s not that this is how men tend to communicate. Given the definition above, I hope you can agree with me that it’s not. But women have experienced this phenomenon so often within male-dominated fields that they have created a word for it. That’s all “mansplaining” is. And the moment you find yourself constantly being talked down to about traditionally female fields by women who know measurably less than you do about them, you have every right to start complaining about “femsplaining.”

            • Mark Neil says:

              Your first paragraph I can speak on much, because it wasn’t me who said that first phrase. That said, unless the word all is used, I generally accept statements like that as generalizations, not absolutes. And as generalizations have exceptions, it thereby doesn’t speak for “all” men, or “all” women, or feminists, or MRA’s, etc etc etc. I find conversations go a lot easier if you don’t assume someone speaks in absolutes, which makes a reasonable statement into an unreasonable one… for example, if I were to say “men are stronger than women”, this if taken as an absolute, is a ridiculous assertion, given even with my size there are women out there stronger than me. But as a generalization, and one used by (some, so as to clarify I don’t mean all) feminists often when trying to trivialize male victims, it is reasonable. Maybe something to consider?

              My problem with your definition is that it requires a subjective perception of the discussion. Define what “talking down to” someone is that can be clearly identified by both individuals within the conversation without the need to emphatically read the others thoughts and perceptions. And also be sure that the difference in behavior is based on sex, and not simply the response, or failure to respond, of the target. As to your examples, I agree, that is being a douchebag, but that is not how the word is used in many instances.

              Except that, in my experience, the things that get identified as mansplaining generally are just the way men tend to communicate, and are not the things you described (those go beyond mansplaining and into the realm of sexist male chauvinist), and I think if you read through the entire comment section, you will see this.

      • Paul Ross says:

        I find it interesting that much of the discussion on this site talks about men or women as a whole, as if “we” all do everything a set way, rather than “some” men or “some” women. One of the first key values of men’s groups is to speak in the first person from your own experience, rather than projecting your values onto everyone else.

        And on the notion of “men speaking to each other with disregard for each other’s feelings” Julie, I don’t see men as having any monopoly on that trait, women can do it to perfection. I have worked in female-dominated workplaces and the bitchiness and destructiveness has to be seen to be believed. Likewise I have women friends who regularly come home in tears from similar female-dominated workplaces because of the deeply personal and emotionally manipulative back-stabbing and psychological attacks that go on.
        Maybe women’s abuse is more glamourised and there is far more denial around it, but it is a massive reality. It might be a lot healthier to see it as a “people issue” rather than a gender one. “We” all do it, regardless of gender. Pointing the finger at the other gender without looking at our own aspect doesn’t have much integrity.

    • Eric M. says:

      “So I don’t think women (or feminists) are trying to force men to conform to the way women speak. Rather, we keep hearing you all say you want to be freer to express your emotions, and we are just pointing out what that means for interpersonal communication.”

      I haven’t read all the comments here either but it’s clear to me that this “mansplaining” business is just another way for the feminists who use it to get in a dig at men, to demean and insult them for sharing their opinions, which women equally do. The evidence of this is that it’s a term that is only used in the feminist online/blogosphere. Average women don’t use or even know about it, and men don’t use it in reference to each other. So, the feminists who use the term and claim to be bothered by it really need to work it out amongst themselves.

      • This isn’t a feminist concept, though. The term itself is, yes, but the concept behind it is much more widespread than feminism. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my mom’s friends (who really aren’t feminists, and certainly aren’t familiar with feminist concepts) talk about how their husbands talk down to them, or speak to them without taking their emotions into account, etc. Average women do talk about this issue…they just don’t use to term.

        • Eric M. says:

          “This isn’t a feminist concept, though.”

          Of course it is. Women complain about the way communicate. Men complain about the way women communicate. But, leave it to certain feminists to coin and use a term that tries to make it seem that only men do it, or are somehow worse.

          “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my mom’s friends (who really aren’t feminists, and certainly aren’t familiar with feminist concepts) talk about how their husbands talk down to them, or speak to them without taking their emotions into account, etc. Average women do talk about this issue…they just don’t use to term.”

          Average women don’t talk about this using the term or even the feminist mansplaining concept. Many women find it frustrating that men tend to be solution-oriented fixers rather than feelers. It’s not about talking DOWN to them; it’s about wanting to fix the problem straight away rather than understand how she feels about it. By contrast, it makes no sense to men to spend time talking about how you feel about a problem when you can just solve it and make it go away.

          Feminists who use the term have found a way to twist that legitimate frustration (based on different problem-solving and consequent communication styles) into a way to get yet another a dig in at men.

          • Give me a break bro.

            Apparently structural power relationships and gendered language have absolutely nothing to do with men talking down to women. Being talked down to is especially common between women and mechanics, plumbers, repairmen, etc. I’ve heard a lot of women I know complain about these people not being willing to have a serious conversation with them unless a man was present. While a particularly stark example, it certainly isn’t limited to these interactions, and as a man, I’ve watched mansplaining in action and I’ve been privy to conversations between about women that clearly betray assumptions of inferiority. Whenever you want to delegitimize something someone is saying (be it a woman or not), you just have to associate it with gendered traits like being emotional, irrational, hysterical etc.

            There may be something to the idea that men and women fundamentally solve problems differently, but it’s such an ambiguous generalization in the way that you use it that it adds nothing to the conversation. You can’t simply wave away centuries of history, gender roles, etc with the wave of wand just because you have a hard on for bashing feminists. What evidence do you have for your little theory about different thinking styles, or is this just something you concocted after 5 mins of thinking about the issue? Maybe something you read in cosmo or ask men?

            Just as an additional note: trying to explain to someone how they’re wrong about something because you have a catch-all theory that allegedly invalidates theirs, is what mansplaining is, just in case you were having trouble with the core concept.

            • Paul Ross says:

              So let’s look at the way women talk down to men! Every week I open the newspaper (or any media) and there are women columnists telling us all how dumb and stupid men are for not doing this or not doing that the way women do it. The media in general, especially in Australia, has a pretty strong bent towards dumbing down men. Political incorrectness relates only to the way men talk about women, not about the way women talk about men. Another strong example, try being a man attending relationship counselling, any sort of health gathering or political scenario involving gender issues. Try being a men’s group seeking funding for men’s health issues or reform for an educational syystem that is disadvantaging boys. Our government departments have become so feminised as a power base that men are treated like ignorant children. So much talk about male power base, domination and control, what we fail to recognise is that feminism has become deeply entrenched in our government system and is rapidly becoming the new power base with just as much gender discrimination against men as men ever had against women. Much of our culture has been seduced by the “perpetrator men, victim women” guilt mentality into creating a swing in the opposite direction that has become way imbalanced. Even some of the elder women are expressing deep concern over this and the damage it is causing to our younger generations.

            • That’s unfortunately how things level out: by swinging the other way, first. I think that’s human nature. People leave strict homes and go wild for a while. People leave hippie homes and become Alex P. Keatons. Etc. People swing from extremes to find an equilibrium in their solitary lives, their relationships, in politics, and even our whole world.

              I agree that men are not being depicted well in media. I do care. But I’ll care more when the men I hear complaining about men’s rights spend as much, if not more, time fighting for women’s.

            • Why would men fight for women’s rights if women aren’t already fighting for theirs? Feminism came before any major men’s right’s movement afaik, isn’t the onus on feminists or women to also show they care about men and thus get more male support?

              There is already an absolutely staggering level of support for women’s rights that totally dwarfs men’s rights activism, so a woman expecting a man to put more into women’s rights than he would for men’s rights is pretty damn silly.

              I support women’s rights, but it’s a field that is already saturated like crazy with support, men’s rights has fuck all compared to women’s rights in the number of supporters, publicity or activism. My own government has an office for women but none for men.

              Quite frankly when I hear women saying they want men to support them first and then they will support the men in return…it seems awfully selfish to me. Y People are going to be suspicious of people who place a requirement to support the X cause over their own Y cause in order for the X people to support Y.

              As a man, maybe I’ll care more about women’s rights when women spend as much, if not more time fighting for men’s rights. How does that sentence sound? (no I don’t believe it. I support both rights with the hope both get adequate support)

            • “Why would men fight for women’s rights if women aren’t already fighting for theirs? Feminism came before any major men’s right’s movement afaik, isn’t the onus on feminists or women to also show they care about men and thus get more male support?”

              Maybe I just happen to know a more balanced brand of feminists than you do, or maybe your perspective is skewed from looking at things from only one angle for too long, but most of the feminists I know do support men in fighting against the (IMO small) injustices done them.

              It’s interesting how there’s such a divide between the feminists I know and talk to on a regular basis and the biased, matriarchal feminist strawman that gets railed against in threads like these. Do I just live in a magical pocket of the world? Or is this “feminist strawman” phenomenon just another example of prejudice? (Somehow I get the feeling the latter is more likely. For something that connects so many people, the Internet seems to run on prejudice.)

            • “Maybe I just happen to know a more balanced brand of feminists than you do”

              Yeah. We keep getting told that, but time after time after time we see feminist (not feminism) lead hatred of men (I shouldn’t have to say this, but the strawmen come out so easily in these discussions… I am not saying that this hated is at the forefront of feminism, but rather, these examples of hatred always seem to have feminist groups at their lead). And it should be noted that all three of the examples just provided have occurred at places of higher learning, where our youth should be learning proper values, but are instead learning that discrimination of men is allowed and encouraged.

              Here s one more example outside schools, of a feminist group called Atheism+, that seems to believe censorship of men’s rights posters saying “men’s rights are human rights”, is an expression of their free speech. It is a satirical account of the events and the A+ movement, but hits many of the relevant points, so I include it. If you aren’t open to the idea that satire can still provide a relevant message, well, watch or don’t.

              “but most of the feminists I know do support men in fighting against the (IMO small) injustices done them.”

              Then perhaps you just aren’t allowed to be aware of just how many injustices men actually endure. Perhaps you are so inundated with “women’s problems” you don’t see the forest through the trees.

              The fact you call these feminist strawmen only shows how close minded you are. Your own personal experiences are all that seem to matter.

            • I’ve never seen feminists fighting for financial abortion, very few on circumcision, don’t recall seeing many fighting selective service if any. I am from Australia if that helps, maybe the feminists you describe are more behind the scenes and aren’t very visible, the majority of feminists I see here tend to be radical feminists or gynocentric feminists and very clearly do not want men in their space, feminism is a woman’s space to them.

              Call it a strawman if you wish but just because our experience differs from yours doesn’t mean it’s wrong, did you ever consider that maybe the feminists you know are the minority?

              Dead set 99% of what I read, see, n hear about feminists, and what others I know read, see, hear about feminists is about women. Even in domestic violence and anti-rape campaigns that are led by feminists, I do not see much advocacy for male victims and especially very little for female perpetrators, to the point it’s very disproportionate to the level of abuse men face as new studies are showing.

              How do the feminists you know support men? And nothing about male injustice is small, and in saying so it makes me truly question if you have any idea how bad men actually get it in this world. Here I’ll start you off, men are the majority victims of violence, men are 4-6x more likely to die from violence, men are far far more likely to be forced into war against their will. Is that small in your opinion?

            • The Blurpo says:

              ” Maybe I just happen to know a more balanced brand of feminists than you do, or maybe your perspective is skewed from looking at things from only one angle for too long, but most of the feminists I know do support men in fighting against the (IMO small) injustices done them.”

              I think not, some feminist do, but the majority still feel unconfortable on this. And your statement ” IMO SMALL” is a testimony. In the next decade or the next again maybe we will see mens issues getting the same recognition that women issues have. But right now there is far much way to go.

              That means half of humanity will suffer in silence, just because somebody feel bad about recognicing mens issues.

            • I’m sorry, I guess I was taking a global perspective when I said sexism against men was a relatively small issue. In the developed world things are a little more even, but can you honestly say circumcision and female genital mutilation are equivalent? Or that the treatment of women in places like Iran is equivalent to having to register for the draft?

              Yeah, there are messed up things men have to deal with. Injustice is everywhere. But come on, are you honestly going to look at the world as a whole and say “men have it just as bad as (if not worse than) women?”

              But this whole bit about whose pain is greater is kinda silly anyway, and I regret saying anything about it. It’s not going to change anyone’s mind, and as long as you’re fighting injustice of some sort, good on you.

              Also, I didn’t make it clear, but I wasn’t calling the image of feminism you were presenting a strawman. I was wondering if it *was* a strawman, or if I just happened to live in a good part of the world. And it sounds like I just happen to live in a good part of the world.

            • Mark Neil says:

              “In the developed world things are a little more even, but can you honestly say circumcision and female genital mutilation are equivalent?”

              Oh, of course not. One is banned in virtually every country in the world, and is seen as utterly abhorant, the other is actually being encouraged and presured onto men that aren’t even of the appropriate religions. And of course, I don’t know of any female mutilation that can compare with the positive spin that’s been put on Castration lately. You know, all SCUM manifesto like.

              And elswhere, men are jailed, without due process, for trying to be with their children, while drilling for oil on land named with female names has become a point of contention. Or India where men are being mandated to pay a salary to their wife. And of course, the slave trade, which also affects men, but gets largely ignored.

              “But come on, are you honestly going to look at the world as a whole and say “men have it just as bad as (if not worse than) women?””

              I’ve made no assertion on who has it worst, and it should make no difference. Injustice is injustice. In fact, the only one here arguing anything of the sort right now is you, and worst, you are doing so in response to the challenge that feminists help men too, and that the injustices endured by men are “small”. Seems to me you are attempting to create a strawman to deflect. You response says nothing about what feminism does to help men. All it seems to do is to dismiss male victims because we need to help women in the third world before men deserve to be examined anywhere.

              But of course, in the US feminists are tackling the hard hitting issues… no, it’s not abortion. nope, not fathers rights. Not even domestic violence. The real important issues are designers failure to design the iphone5 to fit into the restricted pockets of women’s skin tight pants.

            • I honestly don’t think many feminists truly know how bad men get it. I’ve seen shock over n over when some feminists are told of the stats for rape and sexual abuse against men for instance, I see people gloss over the violence men face in favour of portraying women as more at risk of violence. I’m just not convinced many truly grasp how bad men get it, but I won’t say either gender get’s it bad. Currently my belief is that both men and women have it bad with some issues the same yet others are different. I disagree firmly with the idea that women get it worse because A, everywhere is different, and B, it’s dynamic.

              The majority of either gender don’t really have much choice in their role in life under the old gender roles, we’re only now having stay at home fathers and working mothers. Both genders cop a hell of a lot of violence, men die 4x more than women from violence and are pushed into violence far far far more than women are. It’s even encouraged in their youth with rough play. Every-time a big war comes around we have men being the first thrown into battle, conscription itself is a form of oppression. One gender is expected to stay at home and keep house, the other is expected to bring in the bacon to the point men’s health is disregarded, men are the majority of the people dying and being injured in the workplace.

              You can run a list with each gender to show how bad they get it, but I don’t see any really winning. Men dominate the top segment of society in wealth etc, but also the bottom segment, for other forms of power well there are 8million more female voters in the U.S than men so that is a huge amount of power I’d say.

              One decade women may come out ahead, another men come out ahead, and after all the reading, looking at stats, the world, etc, I can’t see a benefit in either gender. Some can say well women get raped heaps in various wartorn countries but so do the men, and often the men are rounded up n shot whilst the women at least get a chance to live. Hell in Iraq currently we have Obama deciding that men over 16 are considered militants unless they have explicit evidence they are innocent, it’s how they can say they killed x amount of militants without really saying the truth which is they killed a bunch of civilians and a few militants. Notice that the women are not considered militants, just the men and they get that label for having a penis and being of fighting age. Who has it worse in Iraq currently? Men or women?

              If you had to choose to be male or female, which would you choose? Which is safer, has more freedom, has a better quality of life?

            • Eric M. says:

              “Apparently structural power relationships and gendered language have absolutely nothing to do with men talking down to women.”

              Or vice-versa. Men don’t do it anymore than women. It’s just that feminists complain about it only when men do it, and have coined a term for it only when men do it. Of course.

              “Being talked down to is especially common between women and mechanics, plumbers, repairmen, etc.”

              You mean when they have to explain things to them things that they know nothing about and don’t care to know? So, simplifying a concept to a person who had no idea of even the basics is “mansplaining?” They could explain it to them as if they are also an expert. They could do that. Would save a lot of time.

              An expert explaining something to a person who is ignorant of the topic and probably has no interest is required to dumb it down (simplify it), no matter how the person is, if they are going to understand. Gender is irrelevant. That the person is ignorant is what is relevant.

              So, what percentage of plumbers and auto mechanics are female? If they are so interested in such matters, why do so few pursue those endeavors professionally?

              “I’ve heard a lot of women I know complain about these people not being willing to have a serious conversation with them unless a man was present.”

              Or anyone who had the slightest idea or interest in what they were trying to explain, man or woman.

              “While a particularly stark example, it certainly isn’t limited to these interactions, and as a man, I’ve watched mansplaining in action and I’ve been privy to conversations between about women that clearly betray assumptions of inferiority.”

              Ignorance of the subject. Women do it equally when men are ignorant of the subject.
              Why is it only a problem when men do it? Yeah, that’s called misandry.

              “There may be something to the idea that men and women fundamentally solve problems differently,”

              Personal problems. I didn’t say they solve problems differently. They approach problems differently. Feel free to re-read the explanation above, which can be found in many other places.

              “You can’t simply wave away centuries of history, gender roles, etc with the wave of wand just because you have a hard on for bashing feminists.”

              LOL!! As if many feminists don’t bash men in general constantly. The coinage and use of the term “mansplaining” is one of many, many examples of feminist man-bashing/misandry.

              “What evidence do you have for your little theory about different thinking styles, or is this just something you concocted after 5 mins of thinking about the issue?”

              20+ years of marriage and 20+ years of counseling other couples.

            • Mark Neil says:

              “So, what percentage of plumbers and auto mechanics are female? If they are so interested in such matters, why do so few pursue those endeavors professionally?”

              While I would add the caveat that, it is understandable that a woman who actually does know about these things would rightly feel patronized if a man insisted on dumbing it down to what he would for those uninterested, it is easier to start low and advance then to have to start over at a lower level of expertise till you find the right one. As someone who helps a lot of people on a very technical piece of software, I can attest that it is more annoying when a user doesn’t meet my expectations of proficiency than when he surpasses those expectations

          • I have NEVER been talked down to by a woman like I am by men on a very regular basis. I can only think of one woman who has been condescending to me in the past two years. Certainly, no woman would ever makes suggestions to me about how to eat cold food vs. hot food.

          • Okay. So what is going on when a man who has never studied history outside of high school tells a woman with a PhD in history that premodern men in the West shunned colours other than black and brown as unmasculine, in the face of her careful explainations that descriptions and drawings throughout this period indicate that men wore and liked a variety of colours, that the adoption of a limited colour palettes for masculine attire is modern, ie post 1500, and that premodern people simply had different ideas about masculinity, and then insists that she (the person with the PhD) is simply incorrect because “men aren’t like that”? You really think she just misunderstood his different communication style? Do you genuinely think that this is just a stereotypical women want sympathy, men want advice. (which is utter bollocks anyway) miscommunication? Or is that a man assuming he knows more than a woman regardless of their relative expertise?

        • Paul Ross says:

          Heather, do your women friends also talk about how some women talk down to each other, and to men? You only have to look at the fashion pages and beauty media to see how some women crucify each other over looks and style, just as one example. “We” all do it, regardless of gender. The number of “spiritual women’s” websites I have seen that degrade and debase men as being inferior and unenlightened is phenomenal. I also take note of the way women in general speak about men amongst themselves and to men, and the amount of put-down and sexist attitudes women have towards men is huge. Keep an ear out for it and you will appreciate what I am saying.

    • So, if ‘mansplaining’ isn’t something men do just to women, but rather just the way men speak…then I’m left wondering why men speak to each other with such disregard for each other’s feelings.
      The same reason that any member of any group speaks to or of fellow members of their own group in such ways. Its about being raised with the belief that “that is the way it is”.

      But if ‘mansplaining’ is just the way men talk to each other…well then that’s just continuing the problem of stifling men’s emotions, of assuming that men don’t have as wide a range of emotions as women.
      Its not a matter or “the way men talk to each other” or “the way men talk to women” or…. Its a matter of it being the way men are socialized to talk in general, meaning that no matter who we are talking to there’s a chance it will come off that way. And yes it is self defeating when it comes to stifling men’s emotional freedoms.

      So I don’t think women (or feminists) are trying to force men to conform to the way women speak. Rather, we keep hearing you all say you want to be freer to express your emotions, and we are just pointing out what that means for interpersonal communication.
      If only it were that simple. The women (or feminists) that are actually acting in good faith are doing what you say here. I’ve said that there are times when “manplaining” does happen and I have no problem with being called on it….when it happens. However what does it say about interpersonal communication when its used to shut men out of conversation for the sake of “scoring points”?

      ….and that by labelling it as such and suggesting it’s a bad thing, we (mostly feminists) are somehow saying that men should conform to the way women speak…
      When used in a silencing way I don’t think it so much trying to force men to conform to the way women speak but more of trying to control what men actually say by silencing any dissent. Its not the how, its the what. Or at least to me it is.

      I’ve seen this play out in the form of men being able to basically crucify themselves on male privilege and no one bats an eye even when it goes too far. But the moment a man says something that goes against what’s acceptable (like talking about female against male sexism) that’s when the silencing will come out.

      • Sorry, should have been a bit clearer that my questions were mostly rhetorical…because yeah I meant to make a mention of how the answer to ‘why’ was traditional gender norms.

        And Danny, this is where you and I will totally end up disagreeing, because your experience of feminists and my experience have been completely different. You seem to be assuming that most feminists are using the term ‘mansplaining’ to shut down communication. And I’m saying that whenever I’ve heard anyone use that term (or talk about the concept without necessarily using that term) it’s always been in an attempt to open up communication. Basically it’s been asking that whatever man has just ‘mansplained’ speak to the woman like a capable adult, etc.

        I don’t know if most of your experience with feminists has been online and in particularly crappy online spaces? Maybe that’d explain our very different experiences.

        • You seem to be assuming that most feminists are using the term ‘mansplaining’ to shut down communication.
          No I’m not assuming its used for silencing purposes. I just think I’m more willing to say that it is used for that purpose than others are. As I said mansplaining certain does happen, and I’m pretty sure I’ve copped to doing myself before. In fact I just had a conversation yesterday that migh be seen as mansplianing.

          A coworker of mine that’s currently pregnant was talking about what her pregnancy had done to her hair. Now while I certainly put on an extra coat of hesitation I still made a comment about while the growing fetus is feeding off the mother’s body I don’t think that affects the mother’s hair. I wouldn’t argue against someone calling that mansplaning.

          And I’m saying that whenever I’ve heard anyone use that term (or talk about the concept without necessarily using that term) it’s always been in an attempt to open up communication.
          And I’ll agree that it can be used (I thought I had said as much already).

          I don’t know if most of your experience with feminists has been online and in particularly crappy online spaces? Maybe that’d explain our very different experiences.
          Yes most of my experience with feminists has been online and some of the spaces have been pretty crappy but there’s more to it than that (and its not so much that many of them were crappy its that I had crappy experiences at the some of the largest, most commonly reference sites). I could deal with it just being crappy experiences though.

          The part that bugs me to no end is the constant assurances that the only reason I could possibly have a negative opinion of feminists is that I have never interacted with any in any way and just get my thoughts on feminists and feminism from “the media”, right wingers, and MRAs (hell you could almost call it feminisplaining).

          So no I’m not assuming they are using as a way to shut communication. I’ve just seen it used that way enough times to know that its real, it happens, and that it needs to be acknowledged just as much as its used as an attempt to open up communication. And that you can’t just assume that its being used in the good faith manner you mention here.

          • Hair does changes during and after pregnancy. Mostly in terms of oil production during hormonal changes (so it seems glossier) and more follicles grow during pregnancy and then there is dryness (less oil) and hair loss (the extra hair) after the fact. Trufax, though every body is different.

            • You can get acne and rosacea and stretchmarks and your ligaments relax and your feet grow a bit and hips widen and often don’t shrink back. Something like a 1/3 more blood volume. Constipation, hemmeroids are common, swelling, kidney strain, sciatica and more!

            • Not rosacea, melasma. Sorry. Wrong term.

            • Oh well in that case, sign me up. lol :)

            • That’s just what she said.

              And low and behold what did I, someone who will never be able to become pregnant do? Tried to tell someone that that doesn’t happen, while they were pregnant at that.

            • Do you know why you did that? Not snark, really just asking. Is it because it doesn’t seem logical that hair would be affected by pregnancy? Or did you think she was acting irrationally about her hair?
              I think there is just so much we all don’t know (and about so much) that maybe it’s frightening at some level (male and female alike). I mean, what do I know about men’s parts and it could be easy for me to say, “Well that’s all in your head.” when it isn’t.

            • Cause I know I’ve done things just like that…anyway…pregnancy! Hard work!

            • Womansplainer!:P

            • It didn’t seem logical. I mean I understand that a growing child feeds off the mother’s body and in doing that the mother’s body is affected. Just didn’t think that hair would be affected. Now if she had said something like, “I’m tired all the time”, “I’m low on (insert vitamin/mineral)”, “Look at my pale skin”, etc…I wouldn’t have questioned it because those things make logical sense to me.

            • Danny: So did you say, “No it doesn’t affect hair.” or did you say, “Hey, I’ve never heard of that what do you mean? That sounds unreasonable to me.” Because those are entirely different statements.

              Archy: I think (and this is my opinion) that saying “I don’t think that happens” is a less positive to learn about pregnancy. I mean, you might learn about pregnancy. But it’s as likely that you’ll piss the person off then learn about pregnancy.
              It begins with a negation ” I don’t think.” rather than an opening “Really? Why does that happen, I’m unfamiliar with that.”
              I think that my best understand of the phenomenon is that there are very different styles and approaches to communication.
              I’m not sure this even is gendered completely.

              I try very hard to use statements that provide openings for more information. Its an improv training thing.
              If we start talking and you offer me a statement and I say, “No, but.” or “I don’t think so.” The likelihood is that you may become shut down.
              If I say, “yes, and.” or “Tell me more, I don’t get it” it offers you more room to expand your thoughts and indicates that I trust you may very well know what you are talking about.
              Once the conversation deepens and there is additional rapport, we can talk about the options that work or don’t work, or facts that may be in question.

            • Danny: So did you say, “No it doesn’t affect hair.” or did you say, “Hey, I’ve never heard of that what do you mean? That sounds unreasonable to me.” Because those are entirely different statements.
              It was more, “Eh….I know pregnancy can do things to a woman’s body…but….uh….I don’t think…that’s one of them.” And there was actualy hesitation and pause between those words.

            • Yeah. So outside of the whole “splaining” thing, I wonder why (and I do this too) there is more of a impulse to say “I don’t think this…” instead of “hey, tell me more about that, I’ve never heard of it.” Like, I see people do this all the time, and I wonder if it’s because knowledge is currency and if we admit we don’t know something then we worry we’ll look weak? Because not knowing is the first step TO knowing and asking questions is a great way to learn things. Dunno. To me that’s perhaps a cultural thing rather than a gender thing.

            • Mark Neil says:

              ” I wonder why (and I do this too) there is more of a impulse to say “I don’t think this…” instead of “hey, tell me more about that, I’ve never heard of it.””

              I suspect it is because, even if they can’t properly defend their position, by admitting you have never heard of it, you completely undermine your own. Some people this doesn’t matter with, but some will dismiss anything you have to say if you admit it’s just assumption or sounds reasonable once past their explanation. And I don’t think this dismissal is any more or less gendered than the initiatial unwillingness to undermine oneself.

              Just a theory though

            • People often make big fuckups in how they ask questions, communicate, etc. We could all use some training on how to communicate better. His intention could be to find out more, but his communication can sound negative without him realizing, especially as it depends on how the other person perceives it.

            • I don’t think can also mean they’re guessing it isn’t right. The hesitation and pause implies guesswork, if he said it as a fact I’d assume he’d not pause and state it. To be mansplaining I THINK :P it would be more like “That doesn’t happen in pregnancy”, a statement of fact.

            • Fair enough. “I don’t think” doesn’t sound like a guess to me. The words are negating. “I don’t know” “I am guessing but” etc are more clear. In any regard, why not just say “Wow, that’s something I’ve never heard of and it sounds so weird. Is that really true?”

            • “In any regard, why not just say “Wow, that’s something I’ve never heard of and it sounds so weird. Is that really true?””
              The other would have to be seen as negative and discussed for it to register as such otherwise a person will continue using it. Speech can be weird:P

            • Mark Neil says:

              “Fair enough. “I don’t think” doesn’t sound like a guess to me. The words are negating. “I don’t know” “I am guessing but” etc are more clear. ”

              I’ve used both, depending on my own confidence and who I’m speaking with. I think/don’t think does indicate a willingness to be proven wrong, however, it does also indicate a “your wrong” won’t be sufficient. For example, your reply regarding hair wasn’t just “yes, pregnancy does affect hair”, instead, you actually explained it out… You taught several of us something (rather than just telling us we’re wrong).

            • @Julie

              What’s wrong with negation? Here’s where I suspect an essential difference in communication depending on gender. What I *think* you’re suggesting, is that negation in communication is an unkind thing, because it invalidates the person you’re disagreeing with *as a person* and makes them feel inferior, disrespected, or some other combo of feelings it sucks to have. That sounds to me like a more typically (but not exclusively) feminine way to interpret negation – taking it very personally. Men (typically, but not exclusively) do not so closely identify an expressed idea, fact, or emotion, with the person expressing it, so negating or just challenging such expressions feels like it’s really about the idea, fact, or emotion, which is *separate* from the person.

              In essence, I feel that I can negate your idea without negating you, and “you” is any gender, not just women. There are some ideas or things that I so closely identify with that to have them challenged *would* feel personal to me – even if the other person didn’t mean it that way – but I suspect the range of such ideas is narrower than a typical woman’s, and would not include such tidbits as my position on pregnancy and hair loss.

            • While I can see your point, I’m thinking less of how someone feels about being negated or taking it personally, and more that I do think that going around negating people is kind of less than friendly thing to do (it sets one up in opposition all the time), it also seems inefficient to me.

              If you don’t know something, why not admit it and learn, rather than starting from a place of “No, but”
              “Yes, And” opens the door for collaboration and more information.

              And how you asked me was open: YOu asked,”What’s wrong with this” instead of saying, “No, this is the better way.” Or, you said, “What I think you are saying”…instead of “No Julie, I don’t think that.” You opened with positive regard and a clear intent of getting clarification.

              Negation CAN be an unkind thing and it CAN have the effect of participants feeling that that person doesn’t want to hear what they have to say, but more of what I”m saying is that it just seems like a very closed off place to operate from for the person doing it, not the person receiving it. Like…when I meet people that operate that way? Always saying, “No we can’t do this this way.” or “That’s not going to work.” Or “you/this is wrong” I don’t want to work with them, not be cause I take them personally so much as because everything will be more of a slog to get anything collaborative happening.

              And I figure they are unhappy people.

            • And I suspect that if you were constantly negated (the interactions were subtly negating your views) on those issues, you’d get tired of it. At the very least why hang out with people who are negative and tend to shut down conversation rather than open it up?

            • Mark Neil says:

              “And how you asked me was open: YOu asked,”What’s wrong with this” instead of saying, “No, this is the better way.” ”

              And this is where I think Marcus is pointing to different interpretations. I don’t think leaves clear room, to me anyways, for me to accept I’m wrong if you can make your case. “No, this way is better” does not. So these (to me, and I suspect to Marcus and others) are not the equivalent. The “No, this is the better way” statement sounds like a response from someone who DOES know and is confident in their knowledge and their ability to defend their point. Of course, they could be wrong and not realize it, or they could be trying to bluff to get their way, or just a$$#0(3s, but that’s not what we’re discussing.

              Or, you said, “What I think you are saying”…instead of “No Julie, I don’t think that.” You opened with positive regard and a clear intent of getting clarification.”

              See, again I see this as different. the “I don’t think it works that way” isn’t a desire for clarification, it is a statement of opinion with an opening left open to be corrected, but it leaves an understanding that correction will need to be negotiated, not just accepted.

              At least, that’s how I see all this

            • “See, again I see this as different. the “I don’t think it works that way” isn’t a desire for clarification, it is a statement of opinion with an opening left open to be corrected, but it leaves an understanding that correction will need to be negotiated, not just accepted.”

              It MAY leave an understand that correction will need to be negotiated. Depending on the person you are talking to. I’d say it’s more likely that men see this as a opportunity for challenge and correction, and women (particularly of a certain generation) will see that as an authoritative statement that is not to be challenged. Given that women are more and more willing and comfortable asserting back, perhaps that language will be less gendered in general.

              I still prefer to communicate with a collaborative style, and when someone speaks to me with a “I don’t think” I’ll push, but I will tend to interpret it less as an opportunity for negotiation and more as a shut down.

              Interesting though, that there are so many possibilities for misinterpretation.

            • Mark Neil says:

              “I’d say it’s more likely that men see this as a opportunity for challenge and correction, and women (particularly of a certain generation) will see that as an authoritative statement that is not to be challenged.”

              And this is what we are discussing, how men and women interpret things differently and bring rise to “mansplaining”. See, the two above interpretations are completely different, and one is constructive (encorages debate and learning) and one is dismissive and even oppressive. And having these misunderstandings is fine, it happens. The problem with mansplaining, from my perspective is, despite the fact I as a man don’t see this as dismissive and oppressive, they are pressumed to be my intentions, and nafarious motives for why I want to do these are assigned to me and my entire gender, based on your(not you specifically) interpretation and personal bias of why and how I said what I did. Now I realise this isn’t an example of mansplaining, but I believe it is easily transferable. And again, I’m not denying the existance of those that do mansplain (which makes the misinterpretations all the more difficult to decipher).

              “Given that women are more and more willing and comfortable asserting back, perhaps that language will be less gendered in general.”

              Hopefully.

              “I still prefer to communicate with a collaborative style, and when someone speaks to me with a “I don’t think” I’ll push, but I will tend to interpret it less as an opportunity for negotiation and more as a shut down.”

              Perhaps, it might be an idea to wait to see how they respond to a push back before you assign motives to them? Would that not be the more collaborative way to deal with un unfamiliar discussion process? I would expect that assuming you’re being shut down would put you on the defensive and less receptive to discussion and outside ideas. It would also likely inject motives that may very well not exist, making a perfectly harmless person into a villian for no reason that your own boogeymen. We all do it, it’s inevitable, but I would hope that we try to avoid it when we’re concious of it.

              “Interesting though, that there are so many possibilities for misinterpretation.”

              PS, we should probably start a new comment thread if this is going to continue.

            • “See, the two above interpretations are completely different, and one is constructive (encorages debate and learning) and one is dismissive and even oppressive.”

              Except, if you look at the social influences which have created the second one, it’s really not dismissive or oppressive. It’s a reaction to being dismissed and even oppressed, historically. That’s why Julie mentioned “particularly of a certain generation.” If a woman is used to men talking down to her (or at the very least used to society telling her that, as a woman, she is inherently less knowledgeable about certain topics than men), then when a man offers unsolicited and unwanted advice without considering that it might be interpreted as such, and then that woman interprets it as him talking down to her….she’s not being dismissive. She’s reacting to societal pressure.

            • I’m going to attempt to jump this to a new branch, quoting Heather’s latest. Please join me if you’re interested.

            • I can totally imagine doing what Danny did, without any internal sense of “let’s set this silly little lady straight about pregnancy”, but just giving voice to skepticism on something that doesn’t make sense to me, and offering my own hypothesis. And then, when the person I expressed it to, or someone more knowledgable like Julie here sets me straight, it’d be one of those whooda-thunkit moments and I’d move on in life with one more piece of trivia filling up my brain. To me, that arc could roughly be summed up as skepticism-discovery-knowledge. That arc is just part of how I go through my days, not a deliberate plan to condescend to women or piss off feminists, and I do it with both men and women. If the woman (in this case) on the receiving end thinks I’m condescending or doesn’t recognize it as open skepticism because I didn’t phrase it with a bunch of caveats about how I’m just guessing, then the arc to her might look like invalidation-mansplanation-asshole.

              This is probably over-simplifying, but where men often think they’re talking about *what* is logical or reasonable, women think they’re making judgments about *who* is logical or reasonable. For example, if my friend Danny tells me a story about how Archy offended him and I go read the exchange that offended him (or just hear his side), chances are Danny and I could discuss differing opinions about what Archy’s intent or meaning was, without Danny thinking I’m telling him his feelings aren’t real and he’s stupid for having them. If a hypothetical woman friend (who I’m not stupid enough to name even in a made-up example) begins a similar conversation with me, then that discussion is much harder to have because if I say anything like maybe that’s not what the second person meant or suggest ways that maybe it wasn’t offensive, she’s more likely to think that I’m negating her as a person.

              It doesn’t even have to be about feelings. When I disagree or am skeptical about some point of fact – like whether pregnancy affects hair – it’s just a point of fact to me. If it’s a woman I’m disagreeing with, though, she’s much more likely than a man to think I’m saying she’s stupid.

              Or so it seems.

            • Well, it usually feels that way. I mean, I could imagine someone hearing “Pregnancy is affecting my hair.” and being skeptical. But I can also imagine them saying, “Really? I”ve never heard/thought about that. What do you mean?” and then getting information from the woman who may actually have information. But what I’m hearing from you is that it’s more likely (or possible) that the reaction would be more directive like “I don’t see that that’s possible.” and yeah, it seems dismissive rather than curious/information seeking.

            • You said you don’t THINK it would affect hair. You didn’t say it won’t, Big difference I think. Sounds like you tried your best to think up whether it would happen or not, made a guess, gave an opinion that you didn’t think it would happen. I wouldn’t call that mansplaining at all, that’s not from a point of patronization, and it’s actually a great way to learn yourself about pregnancy as it opens up for her to discuss how it does happen.

              But then again, I wasn’t there, I just don’t see how that is even close to mansplaining as you weren’t stating fact. Or are men not allowed to guess and give opinions anymore?:P

        • Mark Neil says:

          “You seem to be assuming that most feminists are using the term ‘mansplaining’ to shut down communication. And I’m saying that whenever I’ve heard anyone use that term (or talk about the concept without necessarily using that term) it’s always been in an attempt to open up communication. ”

          And this is why mansplaining is such a problem, just as Danny assigned a motive you find offensive and not aptly applicable in your experience as a member of the targeted group to the use of the term based on being a part of the targeted group, the accusation of mansplaining is an accusation that also assigns a motive, based on being a member of the targeted group, that men both find offensive and not aptly applicable in their personal experience of being the targeted group.

        • Hi there, I know this is a old comment. Im not trying to “eat” you (im not a cannibal lol) but I like to comment your line in your answer to Danny.

          “I don’t know if most of your experience with feminists has been online and in particularly crappy online spaces? Maybe that’d explain our very different experiences.”

          We are living in 2012 (almost 2013) not 1996. Therefore almust everybody is online. You cant live nowadays without internet (school, jobs, entertaining ect) so that distinction between online and offline feminist I dont think it exist anymore. I always get puzzled when I hear (read) comment like yours; are the good feminist excentric hermits that live on the top of a mountain or on a deserted island? I think not, so I hardly belive they are not online.

          How to explain the bad behaviour of the feminist in the blogosphere and the online world in general? well I think since they are online, they may benefit by the anonymity to write what they like. If they write with a nick or a pseudonym it very difficoult or next to impossible to find their real identity unless the reader has hacker abilities, but I dont know. Has internet contribuited in degrating feminism? or whats going really on here?

          Anyways, were do you think the good feminist hang out? I mean beside the GMP?

          • I’ve been trying to figure that one out myself Blurpo.

            For some reason apparently going from online to offline or vice versa, unlike any other thing in existence, actually does change feminism and feminists.

      • Mark Neil says:

        “And yes it is self defeating when it comes to stifling men’s emotional freedoms.”

        How so? I’ve never had a problem telling someone they are patronizing me when I feel patronized, so I’m not sure how this stiffles my feelings? Thing is, I don’t generally feel patronized in these kinds of discussions, What I feel is the need to demonstrate I know what he’s saying and to move on to the next point until we find an area one of us is lacking in knowledge. “get to the point” is something I have said to men far more than women, and it isn’t because I feel patronized, it’s because I know already, get to the point.

    • Mark Neil says:

      “basically saying that ‘mansplaining’ is just the way men speak, and that by labelling it as such and suggesting it’s a bad thing, we (mostly feminists) are somehow saying that men should conform to the way women speak.”

      It’s not just about it being labeled and called bad, it’s about the naferious motives assigned to men. Men mainsplain because they think the woman is stupid, or doesn’t know anything, or thinks hes better than women, etc etc etc. It’s the assigning of some hostile motive onto the man in order to justify your own feelings of being offended that is the problem.

      “At the heart of the concept of mansplaining is the lack of consideration of the woman’s perspective and abilities when speaking to her. It’s about being considerate and polite, and exerting a little bit of empathy when speaking to someone. It’s about understanding that your words can affect the person you’re talking to, and sometimes in an unintentional and negative way.”

      And you don’t see this as “somehow saying that men should conform to the way women speak”? You don’t see how your assertion “It’s about being considerate and polite, and exerting a little bit of empathy when speaking to someone” implies some hostile, condescending motive?

      “then I’m left wondering why men speak to each other with such disregard for each other’s feelings.”

      Because that is a motive you have assigned to it, not something we are actually doing. This isn’t something that offends us, so doing it isn’t disregarding our feelings, because we don’t feel anything about it (until it gets into excess). Remember, feelings are not felt the same between men and women, how we experience and expres our feelings are different, so just because you feel the way you do when talked to in this manner, doesn’t mean we will feel that way too.

      “We’ve had multiple articles here at GMP talking about how men are actually just as capable of the full range of human emotions as women are.”

      yes, we do. That doesn’t mean we experience them the same way. It doesn’t mean we express them the same way. That’s because we don’t. How we experience and express our emotions are highly based on hormones. Ask any pregnant woman or transgender who has undergone hormone therapy (there is an article on this very site describing this. “sir, can you please help me ” or something like that. Tom someone) how changes in hormones influence their emotional imputs and expressions.

      “Let’s let men emote.”

      Are we allowed to emote the way we want to, or must it be done the woman way? Or do you presume they are the same?

      “well then that’s just continuing the problem of stifling men’s emotions”

      Unless of course, we don’t have emotional reactions to mansplaining.

      “So I don’t think women (or feminists) are trying to force men to conform to the way women speak. ”

      Your second paragraph suggests otherwise. The rest also suggests you think men should emote the way women do as well.

    • Mansplaining isn’t how men talk, it CAN be one form of how men talk. If it goes too far, usually men will speak up, tell the other guy they’re wrong, tell em off, etc. I think mansplaining would have to be used in specific cases, a woman bringing up the fact the man is being patronizing (but first actually ask if he means to). Mansplaining seems to be very close to the common information sharing men tend to do, it makes me wonder now if I should even bother, or if I should continue my normal routine and wait for someone to show objection to it if they do. Women, please do speak up on it as I probably won’t have a clue especially if it’s behaviour and a form of communication I do with men and they have no problems with it.

      What I understand though is there seems to be a feeling of it being patronizing, does this happen specifically from guys who view women as knowing less, or can a guy who just overexplains stuff trigger this feeling as well? The fact that it sounds so similar to how we talk amongst the men without incident usually makes me wonder if I should be walking on eggshells with women, it’s a lil bit confusing. Personally I prefer people to just speak up when it happens, point it out, makes it easier to adjust behaviour if needed and gives her the opportunity also to understand what his actual INTENTIONS are. I’m sure there are those that look down upon women and mansplain, but I wonder if women get triggered into that feeling without the man actually trying to be patronizing.

      “But if ‘mansplaining’ is just the way men talk to each other…well then that’s just continuing the problem of stifling men’s emotions, of assuming that men don’t have as wide a range of emotions as women.”
      Does mansplaining actually stifle mens emotions? I think the men are talking about a communication method that is very similar to mansplaining, I have no idea what to label it but even I was reminded of it. If women are not use to communication in that style then have a man use it, could that cause a miscommunication where she feels he’s being patronizing when truly he isn’t meaning to? Of course this varies person to person, there does seem to be a common information sharing communication style but who’s to say it’s how ALL men speak.

      I think part of the confusing here especially is that the mansplaining label has been put on some of us, for behaviour that other men usually don’t find troubling, and that label being applied to stuff which is just the typical overexplaining stuff vs actual mansplaining. So when you say mansplaining, it can mean X, but the men here have probably heard it used as Y. Those pesky internet radfems seem to be the ones that have done this, throwing the term around in a negative way and so I think it’s causing confusion.

      Maybe I’ll refer to the non patronizing version as infosharing and mansplaining as patronizaining.

    • “So, if ‘mansplaining’ isn’t something men do just to women, but rather just the way men speak…then I’m left wondering why men speak to each other with such disregard for each other’s feelings.”
      Could just be men don’t see it as negative, thus there is no disregard for each other’s feelings. Maybe we realize the man isn’t trying to assume we don’t know, but is simply sharing potential new information. It all depends on how the person views the behaviour, but as I said elsewhere I think there’s probably confusing to the meaning as it’s used in 2 ways.

    • i suspect mansplaining is culturally somewhat gendered but not so much genetically. i believe it tends to happen when people want to be and feel right, rather than being primarily interested in understanding the dynamic truth/s of a situation.

  22. Also I think something else that has people so fired up over the idea of mansplaining is that even without the actual words being said there seems to be an implication that the opposite (women patronizing men and all other reasons/causes/motivations being the same) either cannot happen or a grudging acknolwedgement that while it can happen “it doesn’t compare to what happens to women” (which is code for “women have it worse”).

    In fact as I already said the Karen Healely post has a link to a follow up that tries to head off an attempt at pointing out a similar womansplaining phenomenon.

    • Look you’re probably going to disagree with me, but sometimes women do have it worse. You know what, sometimes men do…because we’ve not yet reached complete equity between the genders. So sometimes, women get screwed the heck over. This is one of those ways. (Happens to men too…when it comes to the way society deals with victims of DV, men get screwed the heck over).

      Traditionally, western society has valued men’s roles more than women’s. We’re a mostly capitalist society, and money means value…yet it’s traditional men’s roles that are monetized, not traditional women’s. Women who strove to break out of their predefined gender roles were seen as trying to grasp beyond their reach. Meanwhile men who took occupations that were primarily held by women (nursing, teaching, etc) were viewed as less valuable and taking a step down. We’ve got some baggage left over from that…male nurses are still viewed as less-manly, for example. (And it’s not men’s fault, and it’s not women’s fault that this is how western society was set up. It’s just the way it was).

      But so okay, what the heck does this have to do with ‘mansplaining’ and ‘womensplaining?’ Just that the two are in very different cultural contexts. A woman speaking patronizingly to a man about parenting is speaking from a very different cultural and historical context than a man speaking patronizingly to a woman about…well…anything, really. Neither is acceptable. But they are not quite equally comparable.

      • Look you’re probably going to disagree with me, but sometimes women do have it worse. You know what, sometimes men do…because we’ve not yet reached complete equity between the genders. So sometimes, women get screwed the heck over. This is one of those ways. (Happens to men too…when it comes to the way society deals with victims of DV, men get screwed the heck over).
        The difference here is that you are acknowledging that in different metrics like DV, parenting, sex, etc…. women have it worse. And that I have no problem with. The problem I have is the flat out all across the board declaration that women have it worse as if in every possible measurement women are worse off than men when that is straight up not true (or the ambiguous “overall”). And mind you this stuff is being said at the same time as talk of how they don’t want to play “Oppression Olympics” or “it doesn’t matter who has it worse”. Yeah they don’t want to get into who has it worse when it comes to DV but they don’t mind lying about stats and have no problem with the denial of help to male victims?

        Traditionally, western society has valued men’s roles more than women’s. We’re a mostly capitalist society, and money means value…yet it’s traditional men’s roles that are monetized, not traditional women’s. Women who strove to break out of their predefined gender roles were seen as trying to grasp beyond their reach. Meanwhile men who took occupations that were primarily held by women (nursing, teaching, etc) were viewed as less valuable and taking a step down. We’ve got some baggage left over from that…male nurses are still viewed as less-manly, for example. (And it’s not men’s fault, and it’s not women’s fault that this is how western society was set up. It’s just the way it was).
        I get what you’re saying. However this observation is regularly pulled out as “evidence” that men cannot be oppressed over matters of gender. Because somehow having your value tied to your gender is only oppressive to women. (And while I can agree its not the fault of men or women what do we regularly hear from feminists? “Men are the ones that built this system and men are the ones that maintain it and men as a class oppress women as a class and that men are the ones with the power.” And this gets chirped as if the actions of men from thousands of years ago somehow means today’s men are magically protected from oppression and sexism.)

        But so okay, what the heck does this have to do with ‘mansplaining’ and ‘womensplaining?’ Just that the two are in very different cultural contexts. A woman speaking patronizingly to a man about parenting is speaking from a very different cultural and historical context than a man speaking patronizingly to a woman about…well…anything, really. Neither is acceptable. But they are not quite equally comparable.
        I can agree they do not happen in the same contexts. But just like with the difference between male to female sexism and female to male sexism we get a regular message that one is somehow systemic and the other is not therefore that other one does not exist (or the rush to define it as something lesser).

        I’m perfectly willing to say that womansplaining and mansplaining happen in different contexts and it looks like you are too. Are feminists on a larger scale willing to call them both that or will they defend one of those labels and then do all they can to deny the other?

        (I really don’t want to sound like I’m attacking feminists but after years of hearing double speak from them on how men engage in all sorts of sexist and horrible behaviors against women but when women do the same to men its just bad but not a sign of any systemic treatment it’s really hard to tell if they are interested in ending all the negative behaviors or are they just interested in granting women immunity from the harsh labels and judgements they openly apply to men with no second thought.)

        • Look frankly, the feminists I hang with don’t even use the term “mansplaining.” We’ve all got our feminism from academia, and ‘mansplaining’ is not an academic term. I don’t really have a specific term for it, really, regardless of what gender we’re talking about. Also, when I say I took gender studies classes, what I mean is that I took gender studies classes. We examined the construction of gender and gender performance as entire concepts. When we examined femininity, we examined masculinity as well. And when academic feminists talk about patriarchy, they are not blaming men. They are talking about a system, a patriarchal system…and about how that system is still affecting men and women today. Usually at GMP I use “traditional gender norms” instead, because it’s less of a trigger type word…but basically when I say that, I’m referring to the patriarchal system that the west had in place until recently, and that’s still left some of its baggage behind.

          That bit you mentioned, the “men as a class oppress women,” is very much not what current feminist theory suggests. So let’s see if I can explain it a bit more…you may disagree that this is how things are, but it’s the narrative as I understand it: Historically, in the west, women were oppressed by the patriarchal system we had in place, not by men, but by the system. And men didn’t put that system in place…we all did. Everyone created (and helped sustain) that system and it ended up screwing over women in a hell of a lot of ways, because they were women. Women couldn’t vote; women’s occupations were less valued; women were treated like less-than-adults and assumed to be less capable, etc. And the important aspect to this, is that all that was because they were women. This isn’t to say men were all hunky dory…but that men as a class were not oppressed because they were men. (We’re talking historically here). So when men were oppressed, it was because of their economic status, or their race, or sexual orientation, or religion…etc. And women were oppressed because of all those things too…plus because they were women. And again, men weren’t the oppressors….the system was the oppressor. Except now it’s 2012 (not 1812) and the systematic and institutional oppression of women is pretty much gone (in the west). Now we’re dealing with society still hanging onto old gender norms and old ideas about men and women…and in that way men end up getting screwed over too, because the old system of rigid gender norms locks men into these unrealistic and pretty dang harmful norms (i.e. men shouldn’t be emotional, etc). And in some ways, when we haven’t broken out of these old gender norms, men have gotten the short end of the stick (i.e. with regards to victim support in DV cases). – this is why you get a lot of feminists saying that more feminism will actually help men, because this is the feminism they’re talking about – The idea of getting rid of the old gender norms across the board.

          Anyway, I think the reason I get really frustrated when you (or anyone else) starts attacking feminists, or assuming most feminists are out to get men, or whatever, is because a lot of the stuff you all are talking about aren’t what the feminists I know are like. So it’s like…really tiring to have to wade through the anti-feminist bit to get to the actual meat of a person’s comment.

          And if you asked most of the feminists I know about whether the concepts of ‘mansplaining’ and ‘womensplaining’ both happened, you’d probably get an answer similar to the one I gave. That is, that when women do it it’s generally about a very narrow set of subjects, and those subjects have historically been less valued. Men were actually ‘more manly’ for not knowing anything about them. When men do it, it’s generally about a much larger set of subjects (pretty much anything that doesn’t involve housework or parenting), and historically women who’ve become experts in those subjects (i.e. a woman contractor) have had to fight against the assumption that because she’s a woman she’ll know less about this field that is more highly valued than what she’s assumed to know more about (i.e. housekeeping and parenting).

          • Anyway, I think the reason I get really frustrated when you (or anyone else) starts attacking feminists, or assuming most feminists are out to get men, or whatever, is because a lot of the stuff you all are talking about aren’t what the feminists I know are like. So it’s like…really tiring to have to wade through the anti-feminist bit to get to the actual meat of a person’s comment.

            My hypothesis (i.e., not an assertion of fact) is that most of the men you’ll find commenting at GMP do not have much, if any, experience in the kind of academic feminism you’re describing. It sounds like it has a lot going for it, from the way people talk about it. What a lot of men (and women) at GMP do have experience with is “blogosphere feminism”. These are the feminists they know, the authors and the communities built around them, who very confidently spell out what feminism is to them, and/or exemplify what it means to them by the kind of discourse they engage in or allow in places where they control the discourse. Say what you want about academic feminism, but the blogosphere feminism that most of this crowd knows does not resemble the egalitarian, men-are-victimized-too, celebrate-both-genders model that you describe this other feminism as being all about.

            • Marcus,

              I think what you’re saying has a great deal of truth to it.

              But I also think HeatherN is being unfair by presenting “academic feminism” as even remotely unified and totally divorced from “blogosphere feminism.”

              I took a gender studies course when I was still an undergrad (just 2 years ago!) and I was exposed to a great deal of traditional second-wave feminist thought, which would seem to be completely at odds with what HeatherN is presenting.

              I would also point out that Hugo Schwyzer actively teaches Gender Studies and espouses a great deal of the thought that you are dubbing “blogosphere feminism.”

              As a result, I do not think it’s easy to separate the two, nor do I think that HeatherN is being fair about what modern feminist thought actually looks like.

          • Mark Neil says:

            “We’ve all got our feminism from academia, ”

            Academia, like Simon Fraser University, where the women’s center, run by a council that requires unanimous agreement to do anything, has defined masculinity as homophobic, violent, emotionally stifling, etc, right up on their website for all to see (http://www.sfuwomenctr.ca/faqs.html)? Or perhaps all the feminist scholars and writers who oppose Benatar’s the second sexism book (http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/lifestyle/2012/05/second-sexism-dont-judge-book-its-press)?

            It’s tiring being told your experience with feminism is more accurate than ours heather, of your denying our experiences because that isn’t what you experience. The bigotry within the feminist movement is out there, plain to see, and it IS in Acadamia, not just on the internet. Deal with it, stop denying it.

            • It’s tiring being told your experience with feminism is more accurate than ours heather, of your denying our experiences because that isn’t what you experience. The bigotry within the feminist movement is out there, plain to see, and it IS in Acadamia, not just on the internet. Deal with it, stop denying it.
              Your frustration has merit Mark but unfortunately focusing it at Heather would ultimately be counter productive. Despite the exchanges I’ve had with her I can tell that unlike many feminists she is actually willing to listen.

              I truly don’t think that she is trying to say that her experience with feminism is more accurate (but I totally understand why one would think that way). What’s happening here I think is that there is a severe clashing between our realities and hers.

              In fact you mention of the SFU Men’s Centre and The Second Sexism are prime examples of this clash.

              In one we have feminists, people who supposedly pride themselves on being about equality for all people, in acedemia that are coming out against the mere formation of a space for men using the tired but still untrue argument that “the entire world is a men’s space”. I can’t speak for all men but that’s incredibly wrong and even more wrong to hear from a feminist. You would think that people that want equality for all people would at least be able to recognize that men need spaces just as much as anyone else.

              In the other you have a book that talks about the ways in which men have been and still are harmed and how those harms are neglected by society. And how do feminists, harbingers of equality, respond? By attacking it.

              And these aren’t individual feminists just trying to make a single display. No these are feminists that, with the brand of feminism they have learned, using that to silence the voices and experiences of men that don’t fall in line with what feminism says about men.

              Heather this is not meant to try to “disprove” all of feminism. This is meant to show where that frustration comes from. From the sound of if I truly wish that I could say that the “let’s all work together to help everyone” feminism you and those like you practice does represent the whole. But it doesn’t. At best its a mix of “let’s all work together to help everyone” and “let’s all work together to help women….help that may eventually trickle down to men as well” (and probably other forms as well).

            • Except, if you look at the SFU website, you’ll see that they aren’t against a Men’s Centre. They’re for a Men’s Centre that challenges traditional western culture. It literally says it’s for a Men’s Centre that “challenges popular conceptions about masculinity.” In other words…it’s for a Men’s Centre that looks a hell of a lot like the GMP, really.

              And it doesn’t say that masculinity is homophobic and violent, etc. The only place that page mentions homophobia, is in a list of things it’d like to see a potential Men’s Centre focus on. It’s not equating masculinity with homophobia, or racism, or any of that…it’s saying it’d like a Men’s Centre to focus on getting rid of all that (just like the Women’s Centre is doing). As for the idea that it’s saying masculinity is violent, etc….again no, read the entire paragraph. It’s saying that “popular conceptions of masculinity” are violent, etc. Again, this is going back to traditional gender norms…it’s saying let’s not have a Men’s Centre that reinforces traditional gender norms.

              Basically it’s saying – let’s not create some sort of good ol’ boys club that “promotes the status quo.” It’d be against a Women’s Centre that focused on…I dunno…housekeeping or whatever. It’s saying it would support a Men’s Centre that challenges gender norms and so on.

              I mean, this is very off topic from the original post, but I think a lot of the issue may be with misunderstanding what a lot of feminists are saying. (Yes, I know there are some nutjobs out there who really are anti-male and vehemently so). But with something like the SFU Women’s Centre, I think a lot of it has to do with misunderstanding what they’re saying.

            • Transhuman says:

              I quote from their site:
              “We know that many men are concerned with the way masculinity denegrates women by making them into sexual objects, is homophobic, encourages violence, and discourages emotional expression. It is the hope of the women’s centre that the male allies project will help men address these concerns in conjunction with other men.”

              Sounds a lot like a sexist generalisation to me and no it doesn’t at all suggest support for a men’s centre. It does not say *some* expressions of masculinity, it lays the blame for violence, homophobia and the lack of emotional expression at the door of the singular, all-encompassing “masculinity”.

              If the SFU quote was a GMP comment but with with “women” and “feminism” in place of “men” and “masculinity” it would be moderated out. This form of feminism expressed by SFU is an expression of hate Because it is hatred of men it is acceptable and even defended by some notable feminists on GMP.

            • Well first, the feminine equivalent to “masculinity” isn’t feminism, it’s femininity. Secondly, talking about how “masculinity denegrates women” isn’t the same as saying “men denegrate women.” Masculinity (just like femininity) is the set of cultural norms associated with a gender identity. When a gender studies person talks about ‘masculinity’ they aren’t talking about men or males; they’re talking about all of the cultural baggage that has been associated with the identity of ‘man.’ And traditionally, masculinity has been homophobic, discourages emotional expression and encourages violence. All of the things that I’ve seen so many men talking about – how society stifles their emotions; how gender and sexuality are conflated; the problems with men=protector attitudes…that’s what that quote is referring to. Those ideas. It’s not saying men are like that…it’s saying that masculinity (all the baggage associated with being identified as a man) assumes those things.

            • Eric M. says:

              “Secondly, talking about how “masculinity denigrates women” isn’t the same as saying “men denigrate women.”
              That would be true is most men weren’t masculine. But, they are. In their view, average men denigrate women.

              “And traditionally, masculinity has been homophobic, discourages emotional expression and encourages violence.”

              Most men are masculine. This view of males is why feminism is known as anti-male and repels most women.

            • It’s a bit like the phrase, “hate the sin not the sinner.” Except, that’s a bit off because it’s not as if we’re talking about sinning here. But my point is that it’s separating individual people from social identities and behaviours.

              Or it’s a bit like people who support the troops, but are against the war. You can still support the individuals involved in a war while being completely against the war itself.

            • Eric M. says:

              “Except, that’s a bit off because it’s not as if we’re talking about sinning here. But my point is that it’s separating individual people from social identities and behaviours.”

              When that precise, exact concept is applied to homosexulity, they call it homophobia. But, many agree with you. It’s possible to reject and “hate” what a person DOES, how they behave, but not the person him/herself. You see, many people argue that both homosexuality and masculinity have genetic components.

            • The two examples are actually quite different…the only similarity is the idea of separating the idea from the individual. That’s what I was trying to point out, that you can separate the concept (masculinity) from the individual (men).

            • Eric M. says:

              “the only similarity is the idea of separating the idea from the individual. That’s what I was trying to point out, that you can separate the concept (masculinity) from the individual (men).”

              How does that work? How exactly do you do that as long as they are behaving in masculine ways? They hate thei behavior of masculine men but not the men themselves? If they would just stop behaving in masculine ways, even if they have a strong desire to, even if it feels natural to them, all would be well?

            • Mark Neil says:

              “The two examples are actually quite different”

              How so? They both have been defined as a combination of social choice and biological urge, the combination of which is dangerous, harmful to the individual and others around them and in need of being trained out of the individual. They both very much relate to an individuals sexual identity. So what is the difference?

            • QuantumInc says:

              Yes, most feminists want men to be less masculine. They’ve identified a series of problems with this mode of behaviour and want you to stop doing it. Not because it is manly, but because it is homophobic, violent, etc.

              We used to stereotype women as being weak, passive, housewives. People in the 1950s had trouble even concieving of a woman with a career, and that included most women. However feminism encouraged women to go ahead and pursue careers, and few people think that way anymore. But we still associate “femininity” more with housewives than corporate executives, the difference is that women are not always required to be feminine when it doesn’t suit them. Why should men be masculine?

            • He has a point on this…Wording can matter quite a lot. We need a label to seperate heathers version, and the blogosphere/parts of academia feminism. Otherwise we continuously end up with fights over 2 distinct groups with the same name.

            • Mark Neil says:

              “Except, if you look at the SFU website, you’ll see that they aren’t against a Men’s Centre”

              Did you bother to read what their idea of a men’s centre actually is? In case you missed it I’ll repeat…http://www.sfuwomenctr.ca/male%20allies.html (the big ol’ poster right at the top)

              “Stand up with us

              An opportunity for men to connect and talk about how to stop the negative issues that impact (Not themselves but) their girlfriends, wives, sisters and FEMALE relatives and friends.

              Doesn’t sound like they have any interest talking about male issues, just issues about men (such as the evils that is masculinity as described later) that impact women. If I was Tom or Lisa, I’d be offended by the comparison.

              “And it doesn’t say that masculinity is homophobic and violent,”

              Lets look at how they see masculinity:

              “We know that many men are concerned with the way masculinity denegrates women by making them into sexual objects, is homophobic, encourages violence, and discourages emotional expression.

              This leaves no room for interpretation. That is the way masculinity IS, and they know many men are concerned with it.

              Let me ask you, would you be offended if GMP said their mission statement was “to acknowledge that men and women are concerned with the way feminity denegrates men by making them into scapegoats for all issues, is flighty, encourages entitlement and discourages accountability”? (not claiming any of these are true, any more than masculinity is homophobic and violent… which is the point). Hell, you get pissy when some of feminISM is blamed for these things, and that’s an ideology, not biology.

              ” It’s saying that “popular conceptions of masculinity” are violent, etc. ”

              NO, it’s saying men are concerned with the fact it IS that way. It doesn’t say concerned with the way masculinity MAY or can…, or concerned with the potential of masculinity to include. It’s pretty clear cut.

              “Again, this is going back to traditional gender norms”

              Homophobia? Violence? Which of those traits is a traditional gender norm?

              “Basically it’s saying – let’s not create some sort of good ol’ boys club that “promotes the status quo.””

              Homophobia and violence are the status quo?

              “It’s saying it would support a Men’s Centre that challenges gender norms and so on.”

              No, it’s saying it supports a men’s centre that tows the feminist line, plays the role of scapegoat and puts women first… again. Read the poster.

              “I mean, this is very off topic from the original post, but I think a lot of the issue may be with misunderstanding what a lot of feminists are saying. ”

              And again, we are told our experiences don’t mesh with yours so we must be wrong, and the evidence we provide is based on our misunderstanding, and not your own rose coloured glasses.

              “But with something like the SFU Women’s Centre, I think a lot of it has to do with misunderstanding what they’re saying.”

              And how do I interpret their opposition and CAMPAIGNING against a men’s centre? Is that a misunderstanding too, when on the video they outright claim men don’t have issues and there exists no men’s rights movement to justify a men’s centre? Where they claim everywhere else is a male safe space?

              “It is the hope of the women’s centre that the male allies project will help men address these concerns in conjunction with other men and allow them an opportunity to reimagine what masculinity could be.”

              AKA Masculinity is bad and needs to be recreated in the feminist vision (as male allies are specifically men who self identify as feminist (see what is a male ally)). But’s I’d hardly call any of that what GMP is about.

              But if you want to support this, to claim it offers up nothing offensive and encourages nothing oppressive, so be it. keep your rose coloured glasses on.

            • Eric M. says:

              “Let me ask you, would you be offended if GMP said their mission statement was “to acknowledge that men and women are concerned with the way feminity denegrates men by making them into scapegoats for all issues, is flighty, encourages entitlement and discourages accountability”?

              That statement is highly misogynistic and would never be permitted.

            • QuantumInc says:

              “Homophobia and violence are the status quo?”

              YES!!!!!
              I’m not going to go over all of it, but you might note that in the past Homosexuals had fewer rights and faced more attacks and a greater need to hide being homosexuals. Yes, violence is also the status quo, american censors are much MUCH more tolerant to of gratuitous violence in the media than say, sexuality. There’s a lot of times we’ll congratulate men on being violent, as long as they are being violent towards the right people.

            • Mark Neil says:

              Are you arguing that homophobia and violence is the status quo for masculinity specifically, or for society in general? Do please keep in mind the context being discussed.

            • Eric M. says:

              “They’re for a Men’s Centre that challenges traditional western culture. It literally says it’s for a Men’s Centre that “challenges popular conceptions about masculinity.” In other words…it’s for a Men’s Centre that looks a hell of a lot like the GMP, really.”

              So, they’re against average masculine men. As if all traditional masculine men are, by definition, bad. In other words, they are against the average masculine man, who happens to not be a metrosexual, homosexual, stay at home dad, and/or male feminist. This means they are against the average loving, hard working father who love his wife and children. Most women appreciate such men. And, then they wonder why average women and men want nothing to do with their movement.

              “Again, this is going back to traditional gender norms…it’s saying let’s not have a Men’s Centre that reinforces traditional gender norms.”

              Right. They oppose average hard working, loving fathers who feel a responsibility to provide for their families physically and emotionally. Again, this is why there is such a major disconnect between average women and feminism. Most women WANT a hard-working, loyal, loving man, even if he plans to not ever be a stay at home dad, metrosexual, or homosexual.

            • I mentioned this elsewhere…but no, being against traditional masculinity does not mean you are against traditional men. Masculinity is the collection of social constructs (and to some extent biological attributes) that create the traditional gender identity that we’ve labelled “men.” It’s again, separating individuals from larger social constructs. (Also, keep in mind that they are also challenging popular conceptions about femininity. That’s where feminism started, after all).

            • Eric M. says:

              “being against traditional masculinity does not mean you are against traditional men.”

              Explain how that is possible when tradition men are traditionally masculine. You can’t seperate the two when they come in the same person, which includes the vast majority of men.

              I haven’t heard feminism attack and denigrate feminity in the way that it attacks and denigrates masculinity and humans who are masculine.

              Again, feminists are never going to get any more than a small minority of women on board as long as they continue to attack their men for being masculine. Not all women desire to be with a beta stay at home dad/metrosexual type or a homosexual. A good number actually prefer masculine men.

            • Mostly123 says:

              “Being against traditional masculinity does not mean you are against traditional men. Masculinity is the collection of social constructs (and to some extent biological attributes) that create the traditional gender identity that we’ve labelled ‘men.’ It’s again, separating individuals from larger social constructs..”

              This is a very important distinction that you labored to articulate- but the whole problem (imho) is that this very crucial nuance that you understand and have explained so well is entirely LOST on those ideologues who hide behind feminism at SFU- that is, the opponents of a men’s centre who DO equate masculinity with males; ‘the personal is political.’ So to them a men’s center at SFU would only be acceptable if men used it as a forum to atone for their collective gender crimes. There’s a big difference between personal liberation and the expectation of doing penance. There are still many within and without SFU who believe that liberation from the negative aspects of traditional gender roles is a zero sum game; if one gender ‘wins’ another has to ‘lose.’ The belief that the validation male experiences somehow detracts, delegitimizes, or threatens feminism. To them, the exploration of masculinity must and only lead to condemnation of men- not ‘masculinity’ but males.  

            • Good point. It seems that despite all the talk of “being against traditional masculinity doesn’t mean being against men” it is still quite acceptable to hold men in some sort of collective contempt where the source of contempt solely depends on someone being male.

              Look at how often feminists talk about how feminists and women have good reason to be suspicious of men that come into their spaces. How often do you see that consideration extended to men (as in how often do you see feminists acknowledge that men have good reason to be suspicious of women and feminists that come into their spaces)?

              The belief that the validation male experiences somehow detracts, delegitimizes, or threatens feminism. To them, the exploration of masculinity must and only lead to condemnation of men- not ‘masculinity’ but males.
              Or at the least exploration of masculinity cannot be done properly….unless feminists have an equal say in the exploration.

              (I honestly wonder how many feminists would be interested in giving GMP anything resembling a fair shake if it weren’t for the fact that a lot of main brains here ID as feminist.)

          • This isn’t to say men were all hunky dory…but that men as a class were not oppressed because they were men. (We’re talking historically here). So when men were oppressed, it was because of their economic status, or their race, or sexual orientation, or religion…etc. And women were oppressed because of all those things too…plus because they were women.
            This is where we disagree. To say that men were not dealt the hard lot that they got because of their gender I think its a reason why people (namely men) have such a hard time trying to talk to feminists (and those who aren’t feminists but think this same way). It’s taking a man’s gender and discounting it as a reason for the oppression he faces.

            And again, men weren’t the oppressors….the system was the oppressor. Except now it’s 2012 (not 1812) and the systematic and institutional oppression of women is pretty much gone (in the west). Now we’re dealing with society still hanging onto old gender norms and old ideas about men and women…and in that way men end up getting screwed over too, because the old system of rigid gender norms locks men into these unrealistic and pretty dang harmful norms (i.e. men shouldn’t be emotional, etc).
            I get what you’re saying but it comes off sounding like you’re saying, “oh yeah and guys are NOW getting screwed over too”. As if the damage just appeared 60 years ago. I’m not trying to argue over who has it worse or anything like that. I just want to see it acknowledged that the things that men suffer are actually institutionally bound and that they have been happening for a long time instead of the usual course of acting like men just started having problems 60 years ago or so.

            ….this is why you get a lot of feminists saying that more feminism will actually help men, because this is the feminism they’re talking about – The idea of getting rid of the old gender norms across the board.
            So….why do we also get a lot of feminists that also deny the existence of male victims or at least ones that have no problem with the denial if it works in their favor? If feminism were truly all about getting rid of the old gender norms I’d be all for the idea that “more feminism” is a part of the answer. But there are way too many examples of feminism that has no problem with men suffering in silence when it suits them.
            But its more than that. There are those of us who aren’t feminists and want the same thing but since we don’t ID as such do you know what we get for our troubles? We get told that we hate women because we don’t ID as feminists or that we don’t ID as such because of “the media”.
            I’d like to work with them but I refuse to do so as long as they expect me to drink their proverbial Kool Aid. Until then I’ll just work with the few reasonable ones that I come across.

            Anyway, I think the reason I get really frustrated when you (or anyone else) starts attacking feminists, or assuming most feminists are out to get men, or whatever, is because a lot of the stuff you all are talking about aren’t what the feminists I know are like. So it’s like…really tiring to have to wade through the anti-feminist bit to get to the actual meat of a person’s comment.
            I can understand that this is a matter of different experiences. And at the same time I get frustrated when feminists start lashing out at men, or denying men, or assuming that men are out to get feminists. Because it goes against what I’m regularly told they are supposedly all about. Its hard to see that feminists are on my side when every time I turn around I see the denial of or hostility towards the experiences of men.

            And if you asked most of the feminists I know about whether the concepts of ‘mansplaining’ and ‘womensplaining’ both happened, you’d probably get an answer similar to the one I gave. That is, that when women do it it’s generally about a very narrow set of subjects, and those subjects have historically been less valued. Men were actually ‘more manly’ for not knowing anything about them. When men do it, it’s generally about a much larger set of subjects (pretty much anything that doesn’t involve housework or parenting), and historically women who’ve become experts in those subjects (i.e. a woman contractor) have had to fight against the assumption that because she’s a woman she’ll know less about this field that is more highly valued than what she’s assumed to know more about (i.e. housekeeping and parenting).
            That’s fine well and good. But the narrowness or wideness of the set of subjects doesn’t somehow magically make womansplaining any less real when it happens and no amount of “male privilege”, “patriarchal oppression”, or “benevolent sexism” (aka female privielge) will change that. I’m glad that you and the feminists that you know are aware of this but simply put Heather you seem to be either in the numerical miniority or a silent majority.
            And honestly I’m not sure which one it is.

          • Eric M. says:

            Nobody I know (and I know a lot of women and men) wants even more feminism than what we’re already dealing with. More feminism is the last thing we want or need as it now just stirs up problems and contention without equal benefits, such as this mansplaining thing, rape culture, male privilege, one-sided VAWA, one-sided/gendered educational focus, etc.

            • Depends what kind of feminism they mean. I’m fine with more egalitarian feminism as long as there are no side-effects from laws, or stuff where boys fall behind in schools without help whereas girls are shooting ahead and still get help. Basically people giving a damn about more than just the women…

      • Spoken like a woman that’s never been womansplained as a man about how women know more about parenting:P. I don’t think womansplaining is any less powerful than mansplaining, I think it probably happens in different areas. Women have long been considered the parent of choice, the most knowledgeable, women have power when they womansplain and patronize a man about childcare. So I disagree mansplaining is worse than womansplaining, the rates may be different but they both still have quite an impact.

        So childcare leaves women as the default know-it-all, something like cars for men as the default know-it-all. I’m sure there are probably quite a few more categories too which can really give the patronizing effect that power punch.

        • “Women have long been considered the parent of choice.”

          Not quite…women have long been considered the default parent. If you look back at western history, women didn’t chose to be the primary caregiver. Rather, if they wanted kids they had to be the primary caregiver. If they didn’t want kids…well they were considered really weird and less womanly. It was assumed – she was the one who got pregnant, therefore she was the one who would take care of the kid(s). And it wasn’t assumed she’d be the primary caregiver based on any personality qualities she had. It was purely, 100% based on her biological sex and her gender. That’s it.

          When you look at men, in theory anyway, their occupations were related to their personal abilities. In theory a man’s talents or skills affected what jobs he had. (Economic class obviously had a huge effect too, but that’s a separate issue). Men were valued for individual ability and women were valued as a gender, not as an individual. That might not have been so problematic, except that our society is a highly individualistic one, even historically. So you look at the social context of ‘mansplaining’ versus ‘womansplaining’ and you’re looking at two very different phenomena.

          On an individual level, of course when you are being spoken to in a patronizing way, a lot of that social context doesn’t really matter. It’s frustrating and insulting. But I’m not talking about a person’s emotional experience on an individual level…I’m talking about the greater social narrative that these individual interactions helps define.

          • In theory a man’s talents or skills affected what jobs he had. (Economic class obviously had a huge effect too, but that’s a separate issue).
            Really now? Even when it came to men that got pushed into jobs and tasks that they didn’t want regardless of skill, talent, or desire?

            Men were valued for individual ability and women were valued as a gender, not as an individual.
            I don’t think its that clear cut for men. When its discovered that one is male its decided on the spot that he will become a man and will do what men are supposed to do whether that is fight or work as a farm hand. I don’t think men really are seen as individuals as much as some like to say we are.

            On an individual level, of course when you are being spoken to in a patronizing way, a lot of that social context doesn’t really matter. It’s frustrating and insulting. But I’m not talking about a person’s emotional experience on an individual level…I’m talking about the greater social narrative that these individual interactions helps define.
            And there are greater social narratives that limit and still limit what men are “allowed” to do or know. There is more to women patronizing men than just that given man being pissed off or feeling insulted. I sometimes wonder if there is an effort to, in the realm of gender at least, that individual and systemic be defined by the subject at hand. If its men is individual if its women its systemic.

          • “Men were valued for individual ability and women were valued as a gender, not as an individual.”
            I’m not sure they were valued as much as you think, everytime war came it generally was the men thrown into the fray, quite often conscribed against their own wishes. Failing to goto war would get them visits from the white feather women, jailtime, even death I believe. They were often treated as pawns on a chess board, throw another few hundred/thousand men at the enemy until they fall! They were also valued for their ability to earn and provide, which isn’t an individual ability. I do see how they were valued for individual talents though in some respects, I wonder if that was mostly for the mid-upper class though? I’ve never seen someone value a garbageman.

            • Different meaning of the word value…or rather, slightly different connotations to the word value. I’m not talking about men (or women) being more or less valued than the other. I was referring to where their value…where their personhood…came from. The concept of what made a person, a person. I was referring to how men were viewed as individuals (yes, even the garbageman), whereas women were viewed as more interchangeable. The Smurfette example is great for this…what’s her defining personality trait? That she’s a woman…as if being a woman was in itself a personality trait. Now, the idea that a man’s defining characteristic is his job (or one single personality trait) is also problematic, but at the very least your gender isn’t itself considered your defining characteristic. If you get what I mean.

              Also, I’d like to point out that what I’m talking about is the social narratives that have been told in western culture. I’m not talking about individuals.

    • ht tp://karenhealey.livejournal.com/781391.html
      Just had a read, any idea what she means by “Being a man isn’t bad. Neither’s being white, middle-upper class, educated, cisgendered, straight, or (for now) typically able. It’s the man(etc)splaining that’s the problem: bad behaviour as an exercise of privilege.”. I am half asleep and probably misreading it but what exactly is she referring to about being a man isn’t bad?

  23. Somewhere above, HeatherN wrote:

    Except, if you look at the social influences which have created the second one, it’s really not dismissive or oppressive. It’s a reaction to being dismissed and even oppressed, historically. That’s why Julie mentioned “particularly of a certain generation.” If a woman is used to men talking down to her (or at the very least used to society telling her that, as a woman, she is inherently less knowledgeable about certain topics than men), then when a man offers unsolicited and unwanted advice without considering that it might be interpreted as such, and then that woman interprets it as him talking down to her….she’s not being dismissive. She’s reacting to societal pressure.

    So, if a woman thinks a man is being a jerk (in that down-talking way), that’s society’s fault. She can’t possibly be mistaken, or imputing motives to his communication style that do not exist?

    I don’t so much mind women and men having a different communication patterns and acknowledging that it leads to frustration and misunderstandings in both directions. I do mind when it’s characterized as a problem that is men’s fault, and men’s responsibility to fix by communicating more like women.

    • Mark Neil says:

      ” then when a man offers unsolicited and unwanted advice without considering that it might be interpreted as such, and then that woman interprets it as him talking down to her….she’s not being dismissive.”

      I think you misunderstood me. I was referring to how the person interpreting it took it. So when Danny says “I don’t think…” one listen can hear it as constructive (encorages debate and learning) and another can hear it as dismissive and even oppressive. So ultimately, I’m not suggesting her interpretation is dismissive or oppressive to someone else, I am suggesting she is interpreting it to be dismissive and oppressive, so really, you are agreeing with me.

      What confuses me is what you’re trying to infer with the old Patriarchy/male dominance chestnut (I do so wish I could get through a conversation on gender where this wasn’t assumed to be true and absolute :/ ).

      “I do mind when it’s characterized as a problem that is men’s fault, and men’s responsibility to fix by communicating more like women.”

      Exactly!

  24. I think mansplaining is caused by what roles our male ancestors took in society. soldiers, factoryworkers, engineers, etc. People that work in these fields talk very mansplainy to each other, because doing a good job is more important than pride.
    In fact, doing a good job often means that somebody keeps their limbs or life.
    I think mainsplaining should be more prevalent. I jumped from being a soldier to a factoryworker to a university setting. And it’s only in uni that i have been accused of mansplaining. It anoyed me, partly because everybody talked like that in my old jobs, men AND women, and partly because who gave the women in that my all female study group the right to waste eveybodys time?

    That is MY quiestion to everyone that are annoyed by “mansplaining”.
    Is your pride more important than work that wastes somebodys time, hurts somebody or becomes a money waster?

  25. Mansplaining is a status play. Simple as that. (And yes, I’ve had a woman ‘splain’ to me in this fashion as well).

    It’s usually a play for the higher status in a relationship or situation because either way – you the person being explained to – will come off as lower status. If you point out that you already know, you come off as insecure and if you say nothing, you play into their game of making you the one that doesn’t hold (or needs) the knowledge that they have.

    It’s a status play to gain the upper hand.
    It’s also done usually in a condescending or patronising tone.
    “Oh sweetie…. your little brain couldn’t possibly hold this information that you have. Here let me explain it to you snookums”

    I’ve only ever been ‘explained to’ by one woman in my life though. Overwhelmingly the people who tend to pull this trick on me are men and usually in semi-charged situations where subtle power plays are at work or they are intimidated by me and need to gain an upper hand.

    On the off chance that they’re not actually consciously playing power games though, it speaks to a breathtaking lack of awareness and respect for the person they’re speaking to. Before you treat someone as stupider than you, check that you’re not actually the stupid one first.

    And yes – I do believe that the way to depower a ‘mansplainer’ is ultimately to care less whether they think you’re stupid or not.

    • I would say that Mansplaining also in my experience tends to make the assumption that you wouldn’t possibly know as much as I do about ‘x,y,z’ and most of the time it’s because I’m a woman. So if you find yourself ‘mansplaining’ ask yourself first before you go any further whether you’re making some incorrect assumptions and whether those assumptions are gendered. Its not a matter of forcing you to conform to some ‘female’ way of behaving. It’s asking you to demonstrate respect, awareness, humility and consideration.

      Men – you have to understand. Most women are used to being patronised pretty much regularly through their lives. If this is a tetchy issue for some of us its because most of us have been pretty regularly treated as less intelligence than we are by virtue of our gender pretty much our entire lives.

      If you are not that mansplainer – good for you. If you catch someone mansplaining, please tell them that the person they are mansplaining to is not an idiot.

    • Mark Neil says:

      “I’ve only ever been ‘explained to’ by one woman in my life though.”

      And I’ve rarely been mansplained by men. But if I dare to try and discuss family, children, relationships and/or gender equality with a woman nearby, the chances she will mansplain these topics to me is actually quite high. As discussed in the comments above, it is far more likely different communication styles between the genders, and how those styles are interpreted. This would explain why one is far less likely to be mansplained by their own gender, because they share a communication style. For example, in your following comment:

      “Men – you have to understand. Most women are used to being patronised pretty much regularly through their lives. If this is a tetchy issue for some of us its because most of us have been pretty regularly treated as less intelligence than we are by virtue of our gender pretty much our entire lives

      If you are not that mansplainer – good for you. If you catch someone mansplaining, please tell them that the person they are mansplaining to is not an idiot.”

      Could this not be considered verging on mansplaining? Explaining to us, because we’re men, how it is, that we are consciously trying to patronize or “having a breathtaking lack of awareness and respect” (as if you know better than us how we feel), followed up with a rather patronizing “good for you”.

  26. Mostly123 says:

    I dreamed of a world where everybody was still just as insensitive, condescending and obtuse to everyone else as before… except that nobody attributed or assumed that this boorish behavior had anything to do with gender (their own, or anybody else’s) because, in my dream, it didn’t: Some people were just inherently condescending or clueless, some people were just thin-skinned, and nobody was sexist anymore ever ever again… but then I woke up, and everything was back to usual.

Trackbacks

  1. […] can still own the struggle against it – specifically whether men can really be feminist, or ‘explain’ to women what ‘real feminism is’. Can I, even as a woman, justifiably care about feminism, and […]

  2. […] a blog post for Spin Magazine, Brian Soderbergh accuses Lupe Fiasco of mansplaining and eschewing one form of patriarchy while touting another, writing that  “…it is the […]

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