A while ago (March 2017 to be precise), I wrote an article on mansplaining, just after having suffered two successive instances of the behaviour while a class rep. I was very recently manslpained again and it triggered quite a few new thoughts on the issue – here they are.
For those who did not read or remember WembleyWonderful Tips #46 (shame on you!), here is a bit of background. According to Merriam Webster, “mansplaining is “ what occurs when a man talks condescendingly to someone (especially a woman) about something he has incomplete knowledge of, with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he’s talking to ”.
My most recent experience was with my sewing machine repair guy. After calling him because a feature of the machine did not work just after he had serviced it, we had this unreal exchange where he tried to convince me it was all my fault:
HIM: So before this happened did you open this box?
ME: No, I opened the box afterwards to see whether the thread was stuck in there and causing the problem.
HIM: So that’s it, you probably caused the problem because you opened the box.
ME: But I did open the box after the problem occurred, not before.
HIM: There was certainly no problem when I had the machine! Do you know you need to open the box and check whether some thread is stuck in there, as this could be causing the problem
The conversation ended up by me, as politely as possible, hanging up on him to stop this madness. Clearly, he was convinced I had not clue what I was doing… And I needed to be told so!
So my recent thoughts are the following:
- Mansplaining actually does not happen very often – writing this makes me realise that I hadn’t been mansplained for more than two years!
- But it does definitely happen to many of us – me, some of you I’m sure, and othesr. To be convinced do read Rebecca Solnit’s essay “Men Explain Things to Me”.
- Our girls (and boys) need to be told – my eldest has recently joined the WW newsletter mailing list and was wondering what I was writing about tonight, as she’s obviously never heard of it. I said “wait until tomorrow…”.
- Mansplaining seems to happen in quite specific context . It seems prompted when women hold some sort of position of authority / control / better knowledge (and I think for some unsecure people having a mum class rep classifies as a position of control, OMG!); or when a man has a position of knowledge over a subject mostly of interest to women (such as my sewing machine repair guy; or men gynaecologists – loads of ridiculous stories all over the internet).
- But most encouragingly , most men are not “mensplainers” and abhor the behaviour as much as I do – thanks to Mr WembleyWonderful to be one of those!