If you’re a female, odds are high that you’ve experienced mansplaining a time or 270. It’s a typical truth of womanhood: boy meets girl, boy talks to girl, boy patronizes girl with his alleged expertise on a subject in which she is better versed.
Now, I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that I don’t think mansplaining is overtly sexist as a rule. Men are wired to see themselves as helpers of women. In a world where we’ve constantly perpetuated the idea of a knight in shining armor rescuing a damsel in distress, can we really blame them?
Not only that, but the idea that women are less valuable than men has circulated the globe since the proverbially rules were written (by a man, clearly). While we are seeing progress, the fight for equality rages on. Rape is, perhaps, the most poignant example of this – the Me Too movement made strides but it did not make amends: only six percent of rapists (a crime in which women are victimized an overwhelming majority of the time) ever spend a moment behind bars.
My point is that mansplainers weren’t born; society created them. And not every male who engages in mansplaining does it to purposely invalidate, belittle, or otherwise make a woman feel insignificant. Sometimes, they’re just doing what they’ve been taught to do. Sometimes, they’re genuinely attempting to solve a problem. Sometimes, they’re showing off, hoping that their knowledge of Russian literature or nuclear fusion will come across as attractive.
But women don’t like it, no matter how benign its foundation. And here’s the reason why:
It assumes to know our experience…..
I can’t tell you, for example, how many times I’ve sat down at a blackjack table only to have a man I’ve never seen before tell me how to play. Each time, I’ve wanted to ask why he thought I needed help. And, each time, I’ve imagined a rushed answer covering up the silent one: because you’re a woman.
I’ve played more games of blackjack than I can count, I learned to play poker (for money) when I was six-years-old, and I grew up in a family where women excelling at math was the norm. My mother is a computer programmer; my dad failed high school geometry three times.
But, when a man looks at me, smiles, and says, “Don’t ever split tens,” he assumes he knows my experience. And that annoys women to no end.
Of course, it’s not limited to casinos. We hear this kind of thing everywhere; it’s as common a fixture in any office as a Deep Rock water machine. But whether we hear it during a board meeting, at a grocery store, or when drafting our fantasy football team, it’s invalidating, unfair, and overdone.
Then there’s this: assuming on the male’s part begets assuming on the female’s part as well. When men speak down to us, we paint them as jerks when they may or may not be. And, after, we want nothing to do with them.
So, there you have it: mansplaining isn’t just annoying, it’s a threat to courtship. It needs to end: the continuation of mankind depends on its banishment.
Amen! But regretfully it will go on until the end of time. Well, maybe not after we have a woman President. 🙂