mansplaining
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Culture
Feminism

Don’t mansplain things to me

I first encountered mansplaining in an undergraduate politics tutorial, which, let me tell you, is the place to do it. Who knew I could define and explain Agamben’s state of exception with such blistering clarity? Well, no one, in the end, because halfway through my presentation a fellow student interjected and began regurgitating exactly what I’d been saying. He spoke directly to me, as if he were the tutor and I were his lowly student who hadn’t quite managed the readings that week. It was infuriating, and oddly humiliating – I started to wonder if I had misunderstood the theory, since he was delineating it with such gusto.

Last year, ‘mansplain’ made it into the Macquarie Dictionary. In fact, it was chosen as the Mac’s Word of the Year, defined as follows:

mansplain: (verb) Colloquial (humorous) (of a man) to explain (something) to a woman, in a way that is patronising because it assumes that a woman will be ignorant of the subject matter.

Since its usage started to spread on the internet six or seven years ago, it’s also given rise to similar portmanteaus such as ‘whitesplaining’, ‘hetsplaining’ (or ‘straightsplaining’) and ‘cissplaining’, whose meanings are similarly derived.

At best, it involves an assumption on the part of the ’splainer that their knowledge on a given topic is superior. At worst, it’s a method – conscious or accidental – of silencing the other party. If you’re being spoken at or over during a conversation, particularly on a topic in which you’re well versed, it’s tough to stay engaged. After (at most) a few polite attempts at interjecting, you start to glaze over from frustration or boredom. Mansplaining often culminates in the abject silence of the ’splainee, resigned to waiting for the lecture to end. Thus the effect is twofold: the ’splainer’s status is elevated as they maintain their social dominance, and the ’splainee is further disenfranchised. It’s one of many ways that unequal power structures are reinforced in everyday communication.

Here’s an example: a friend, a folk musician and classically trained singer, is busking with her guitar in the underpass of a train station. She’s been at it for hours, sans amplifier, and her voice is tiring. In fact, her speaking voice is almost completely hoarse. (The fact that she is still able to sing is indicative of her vocal training and control.) A man approaches her between songs. ‘I’m not a singer,’ he begins, ‘but I am a musician.’ He then launches into an elaborate explanation of diaphragmatic breathing. She politely tells him that she studied music and is very familiar with the technique he’s explaining, but he pushes on, undeterred, with a level of bombast faintly heroic coming from a person whose opening line was I’m not a singer.

This isn’t an isolated event. Setting up onstage before gigs, she frequently receives unsolicited advice on how to plug in her guitar, something a dextrous Labrador could probably accomplish. (The competence of her male bandmate and guitarist has, to date, never been questioned.)

Perhaps because it was chosen as the Word of the Year, ‘mansplaining’ did not slip into the Macquarie unnoticed. In fact, a number of blokes were downright unhappy.

Here are some reasons why some men object to the word:

Women can be patronising, too.

Correct! The act of condescension is certainly not gendered. Mansplaining, however, as well as whitesplaining and cissplaining, is different because the person on the receiving end of the condescension – i.e. the person being explained to – also happens to be on the lower end of an institutionally lopsided power structure. Actually, this is the nuance I think the Macquarie definition lacks. It also answers the question ‘Why do we need a special word for men [white people/ cisgender people etc]? What about womansplaining?’

Words like ‘mansplaining’ only create a further perceived divide between men and non-men.

Here’s the thing: we need to identify and call out this stuff, because otherwise, it keeps happening. Plenty of blokes are oblivious to it – and, I’d wager, plenty of women, too, because we’re so accustomed to it. In order to redress that power imbalance in discourse, we need to tackle it one problem at a time.

Why do we need a word? Why don’t women just speak up and say ‘Hey, stop patronising me?’

In a perfect world, we would. All the time. But it’s not as easy as it sounds, mostly because of that same structural imbalance. Also, the worst mansplainers happen to be really good at getting louder and more forceful when their dominance is threatened. Remember that video of Lebanese journalist Rima Karaki shutting down the interview with scholar Hani Al Seba? She literally had to cut his microphone to stop him interrupting her and telling her to shut up.

I resent and/or feel attacked by the implication that I may have once been guilty of mansplaining.

I actually can’t help you with this one, fellas. Maybe you have mansplained before. It’s okay. We don’t really keep tallies unless you’re an unusually huge jerk and/or it’s an established communicative trait of yours. Sometimes it’s even well intentioned. But that doesn’t make it any less irritating.

It also doesn’t make it any less real. Numerous studies have shown that women are more likely to be interrupted than men. In fact, 1998 study at the University of California Santa Cruz showed that men are more likely to interrupt women in order to establish dominance in conversation – that is, they interrupt with intent.

It’s just a buzzword and it’ll die out in a few years anyway.

If you’ve never felt the urge to purge the dictionary of ‘share plate’, ‘cowabunga’ or ‘bitcoin’, chances are your disdain of mansplaining is informed by latent sexism. And the phrase has been around for some time. Its genesis was around 2008, when an excerpt of Rebecca Solnit’s essay ‘Men Explain Things To Me’ appeared in the Los Angeles Times. While she didn’t coin the neologism herself, she described the phenomenon, citing a time a man explained her own book to her, completely unaware she was its author. ‘Mansplaining’ quickly gained currency online, and by 2010, it was the New York Times’ Word of the Year. Last year it was also inducted into the Oxford Dictionary’s online database.

Macquarie’s Word of the Year Committee described ‘mansplain’ as ‘a much needed word […] which neatly captured the concept of the patronising explanation offered only too frequently by some men to women.’

I’d be happy to see it expunged from the dictionary – when it becomes obsolete. But as long as ’splainers are ’splaining, that word has earned its place.

 

Image: Jason Devaun / Flickr

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Jennifer Down is a writer and editor. Her writing has appeared in The Age, Australian Book Review, The Saturday Paper, Overland and Kill Your Darlings. Her debut novel, Our Magic Hour, will be published by Text in 2016.

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Comments

  1. At the risk of just repeating what you wrote…I know an infamous mansplaining poet, who once silenced a woman trying to take part in a conversation by saying ‘No, listen, this is important!’ and continuing with his monologue.

    I think it is important to tell such people that they are acting in an unacceptable way.

  2. ‘Thus the effect is twofold: the ’splainer’s status is elevated as they maintain their social dominance, and the ’splainee is further disenfranchised’.
    Perhaps. The ‘splainer is also established as insufferable.

  3. I guess from a male point of view it becomes often hard to distinguish when one is undertaking Mansplaining and when is it just good natured debate?

    But I think the word is spot on in reflecting differences between the gender in particular in debates etc. where a woman butting inn (whiney/annoying?) will be viewed different from a man (assertive/dominant)

    The question for me is where we probably need a shift in behaviour from men do we need a shift in perception from both women and men? do women and men view the dominant part in such a debate the same? i.e. would your fellow classmates regardless of gender have viewed your male classmate as the winner of the ‘altercation’?

    • The fact that men find it difficult to differentiate between mansplaining and ‘good natured debate’ is exactly the problem. It means that when women raise the issue of mansplaining we can shut them down further – by mansplaining that mansplaining is really debate.

      • I see the point that Preben is making here however I also see the validity in Stephen’s reply.

        Perhaps the definition at current is a bit too generally applied. I feel we need to be careful about applying this to every context of conversation. The article really does highlight those instances where:
        1. A non-male was already making a point in discussion (The tute example), or;
        2. Engaged in an activity which involved significant expertise (the musician example), and
        3. Had that expertise, or perspective purposefully interrupted in an unwanted manner to assert dominance by the male party.

        I work in academia and we do have very good natured debate which involves people speaking for a length of time to make a point. The nature of discussion, in many of the spaces I find myself in, involves what might be loosely called a structured debate. We deal with very complex theoretical positions and they require explaining and application through specific examples that may, to an outsider, look like the speaking party is explaining unnecessarily to an already educated audience. However, in this forum, the explaining is about working toward common definitions, and turn taking is the norm. Personally, I feel this can be appropriates by the ‘splainers, however by and large, it does not function in that way. I must disclose though, I work generally with Gender and Cultural studies folk (and sociologists) and perhaps that influences the debate.

        This is a very useful article and a very useful term that, as a cis-gendered male, makes me think about the nature of my interactions. I feel we (men) need to stop seeing these terms as wholly pejorative and instead understand their generative capacity not only to describe, but also to identify practices FOR individuals.

      • Now Stephen go to your girlfriend and make her read your post and I’m sure she’ll “reward” you. We live in a time when men can’t say anything without that being interpreted as an attack on something, someone, someplace. Not all men are p*icks. And then we have men who love attacking other men in order to show their “solidarity” with women.

        • Is your use of the term ‘reward’ supposed to be some sort of sexual innuendo?
          I think it’s very interesting that whenever there is a post about misogyny at Overland men start queueing to mansplain how oppressed men are by women, or how manhating feminism is. This suggests that either (a) there is a lot of strange misogyny lurking among men of the left (which would be no surprise), or (b) men with what one could politely call right-wing ideas spend their time policing Overland.
          Great post anyway Jennifer Down.

          • This is the first internet comment thread I’ve read that critically and insightfully engages with the concept of ‘mansplaining’ between male commentors. Thank you.

            Of course then Stephen chimed in, but really, we should thank you Stephen for providing readers with the clearly sexist and childish response we are used to reading, as an example of mainsplaining in action.

            And to address questions raised in the thread briefly:

            – There IS a lot of strange and highly vitriolic misogyny lurking in the left. Sadly it seems to be the case that the more progressive a mainsplainer perceives themselves to be, the more intent the speaker can often be on belittling others.

            As an intelligent woman who is a relatively good debater, I can’t tell you on how many occasions I have seen men who pride themselves on their passive ‘rationality’ reduced to screaming, belligerent messes when confronted by a woman who disagrees publicly with their arguments. I’ve literally seen tears, frothing at the mouth, and on numerous occasions been physically threatened. And this is with supposedly progressive ‘debating’ companions. Its truly disturbing.

            Clearly, its easy to seem calm and logical (and probably genuinely believe yourself to be) when you’re the one on top of the social food chain who is largely allowed to speak and be seen without any implied threat to your superior position.

            I agree that this sort of ingrained, negative attitude towards women clearly (and perhaps most sadly) comes strongly from a lot of women themselves. This has been countlessly proven in scientific studies- women often perceive other women who assert themselves verbally in groups as aggressive, domineering, annoying etc…this attitude is most clearly seen in the #idontneedfeminism hashtag.

            While these attitudes may seem mirrored, from women it clearly comes from a place of social disempowerment and being disenfranchised even further by other women who seem to have ‘cracked the system.’ Coming from men, it is sheer desperation to re-assert dominance by belittling. They’re very different problems that need to be addressed separately

  4. I sighed when I read the bit about your friend having men at gigs explaining to her how to plug her guitar in. I had a very similar incident happen when I was playing guitar at a gig. I had my own amp, and it was intentionally turned down low so that I could turn it up at the soundcheck to the right volume without deafening everyone. So at *my* soundcheck, that important slice of time before a gig when each performer has a few minutes with the sound engineer to get their stuff just right, I did a strum, just to make sure the amp was on and connected to the PA. Yes, it was quiet, *but I knew that.*

    A bloke from the headlining act sprang onto the stage, reaching for my amp.

    “Let me turn that up for you, it’s a bit quiet.”

    NO, REALLY???? I hadn’t noticed. It’s not like I’m competent enough at this guitar-playing lark to *actually be playing a gig*. Clearly I need help I didn’t ask for.

    “I know,” I said, in the coldest tone I could manage, and turned my back on him, interceding between my amp and his interfering hands. Not only was it incredibly patronising, but why did he think he had the right to touch my equipment without my permission?

    If that wasn’t bad enough, during my set another bloke from the same band patted my boyfriend’s arm and said, referring to me and the female vocalist in the band I was in, “You must be so proud of them.” Did he think this was my dad? Did he think we were actually five year olds?

    It was so horrifically patronising! And it’s made worse by some blokes (not all, some) saying I was being rude to someone who was just trying to be helpful. Interestingly, when I first brought this issue up, there were lots of guys saying they’d seen men do this to female musicians at gigs themselves. It’s not, sadly, an unusual thing, especially with guitars which are seen as MAN THINGS. Well, Sister Rosetta Tharpe wants to have a word about *that*.

    • Tell me about it! The way women are treated in the live music world still staggers me at times, because you’d think we were still in the 1950s. There is still SO MUCH work to do.

      Like you, my band’s guitarist (who’s a woman) often gets her gear/technique questioned, whereas for our (male) drummer & bassist it is taken for granted they know exactly what they are doing. I recall an especially horrific soundcheck wherein I’d accidentally created feedback with my mic. Immediately, the sound engineer sprang up and spoke to me in this dad voice (I kid you not), “Here’s a tip: imagine this is an ice-cream. You need to keep it up in order to lick it. If not, the ice cream falls to the floor and you won’t be able to have it anymore.” Shocked silence from the entire band for 2 secs to which I replied “why are you talking to me like a little girl?” Non-reply from him, instead he stays silent and walks back to his desk. Surely this stuff needs to be compiled somewhere.

  5. Does anyone else have a Dadsplainer? I may be 40 years old, but any attempt to discuss an issue – something political, say – results in my dad *explaining* the issue to me, as if I couldn’t possibly know anything.

    • I have a Dadsplainer, and a brothersplainer, both are annoying. I feel like telling them that i am 35 not 5 and I have years of experience in my job and don’t need tips from them.

      I know when I hear the words “The thing is…” I am in for a mansplaining lecture. I find that it is harder to deal with it from family members than other men, because I’m allowed to be rude (read assertive) to other men to stop the lecture if need be without having to endure a fraught lunch afterwards.

  6. The notion of mansplaining has been such a helpful word for me after years of taking this tendency in certain people for granted. But I find, via some sort of gender slippage, that I too, even as a woman, can become a bit of a mansplainer myself at times. But when I find myself adopting that voice and style I try to shift out of it. I’m not sure that a true mansplainer can recognise it when in full flight. Thanks for a terrific essay.

  7. As a man I can say that yes that is what males do (though, I’m not guilty of mansplaining because I hardly know anything and I’m usually too shy and modest to point things out to people). As a man i have listened to other men explain things to me. But it is what men do. The male ethos is such that men consider themselves (some men, or perhaps most?) repositories of knowledge and wisdom, and they like to impart all that to other people as a way of assertion and showing confidence. As a man i know that is what men do and it doesn’t matter so much because it’s a dog-eat-dog world and seemingly a game of oneupmanship (which is a bother, yes) and so you just give back as good as you get and get on with things. But yes, I take your point: being patronised to is not good.

  8. Great blog, well written and researched. Shame is stinks of contempt of the male gender.

    Mansplaining is not about men talking to women in a condescending way. Some men are just condescending. Period. Mansplaining is about a deep seated anxiety about men and the male gender. It is about emasculation, and about the removal of the right of the male gender to be assertive and hold healthy self esteem.

    This prejudice of the male gender is rooted in the lopsided power structures that pervade modern society.

      • So glad you called it that way Beth – i read it a coupla hours ago & didn’t know where to start.

        • What makes you assume I am of the male gender?

          I just find the term mansplaining to be deeply offensive in the same way the word “slut” is deeply offensive.

          If we accept the term mansplaining as holding real meaning rather than being a bigoted term of offense should we also accept the word slut in the same way?

          I don’t think so.

          It is just my opinion.

          • “This prejudice of the male gender”?? Do you mean prejudice against the male gender – or prejudice by the male gender? I can probably guess which one.

  9. I loved this article. So articulate. I think it’s common I lots of areas where explanation is seen as a means to exercise power, of which men exercising power over woman is unfortunately far the commonest. I had a young person who could not hold a note during a choir rehearsal try to explain to me ‘that note is a crochet’, pronouncing as in a textile craft. Thank you so much for an informative read.

  10. Jennifer own writes in the context of the concept of ‘mansplaining’ that women are “on the lower end of an institutionally lopsided power structure.”

    Yeah right. Let’s face it. Mansplaining is big business. The book about it by Solnit capitalised on the concept in order to publish a book, generate some money, etc.

    Fact is that women read and buy more books than men and are more prominent in the publishing industry and they like nothing better than to read how disenfranchised they are, how they are continually victimised by men, all the while feeding big business with sales of books that tell them stories about it etc. And the author here is capitalising on the concept, using it to make a name for herself.

    This ‘Mansplaining’ is surely frivolous compared to the problems faced by women in other less affluent and privileged parts of the world.

    • “This ‘Mansplaining’ is surely frivolous compared to the problems faced by women in other less affluent and privileged parts of the world.”

      My antifeminist cliche bingo card is filling up rapidly!

      • My anti-male cliche bingo card was completed long ago. Just go to Overland. There is little respect paid to the male gender these days. My god. They built (yes, through hard physical labour) the comforts you take for granted.

        • Oh well how nice of them to share it with us! Of course it clearly comes with conditions, such as the apparent constant feeding of their precious egos lest they take their toys and go home.

          By the way women have done plenty and built plenty, you just weren’t paying attention.

          • It was shared altruistically. You’re sitting in a building, heated no doubt, that was built by the labours of men, and the heating, invented by men. You went to work on roads built by men, in a city, constructed by men. Even if women were in charge of everything they would still have to enslave the men to labour and build for them. Just saying. I wouldn’t see a matriarchy as necessarily ideal, either. there seems to be the assumption that if women ruled the world we’d be living in a paradise. I do not think so. We would still be subjected to powermongering and human folly and evil.

  11. The so-called articles like this one on Overland are beginning to resemble the ‘Mere Male’ columns of a certain Women’s magazine. I bemoan Overland’s loss of seriousness as it instead favours triviality and frivolity. No one is going to give a toss about articles like this in 20 years. Overland, give us something valuable and lasting, please. Aren’t you supposed to be representing literary culture in this country?

  12. Will we allow the criticism that as a neologism it sounds like it was invented by a five year old?

    Seriously. Anyone who uses this word instead of properly contextualising misogyny is doing the Devil’s work. Linguistically and politically. Merely reading the ‘word’ I find insulting to every other decent, nuanced word on this page.

  13. Also can anyone explain where the “s” comes from?
    If its a reduction of Man and Explain, well … you see my point.
    Why isn’t it ‘Manplaining’?

    • yes, from the latin, demonstro manus – “man is a bloody big I-land” – quod erat demonstrandum

    • Because explain is *pronounced* ecksplain. There is the sound of an ‘s’ in there, which the new word draws out. Manplaining, your alternative, sounds like a compliment: ‘Oh that chap is really telling it like it is, isn’t he, with his admirable plain talk and common sense.’ That is exactly what the word does not want to imply.

  14. Good lord. Some of these commentators, mansplaining at length about mansplaining, are hilarious. Yes, every woman has experienced this behaviour all through her life. No, pointing out sexist behaviour is not “reverse sexism”. No, women don’t victimise men by reading books, or even by writing them. Discussing how language works in action is surely part of literary and political culture, even if it does concern the “trivial” problems women face in being heard. And Adam Ford, why do you sound like you’re seated in a manorial chair wearing tweed leggings?

    • The old associating of male attire with the outdated ‘fogey’ judgement. Dare I say Ms Croggon you sound like you’re wearing pink.

    • No, not every woman has “experienced this behaviour all through her life.” Clearly you have no possible way of knowing that, unless you have met every woman and conversed with every woman on the topic. And it seems to me that Adam Ford has a good point when saying that taking a lazy approach to language tends to rob it of meaning, and therefore effect.

    • I enjoy your writing Alison and have been subscribing to Overland for a few years. The males bothering to protest are saying they don’t want to read articles based on gender straightjackets. Fair enough. Articles like this used to be written about women. Like Montaigne (a man) said, there isn’t much between us. “Äh that such a man should have lived.” – Nietzsche (another man). Bloody men.

  15. Alison has some very astute things to say, re: lit culture being about how language works in action. The disagreements between the sexes is probably as old as the sexes themselves and will continue to be. Whatever helps to bring us closer together is surely worthwhile, and if a discussion of ‘mansplaining’ helps then that is good. But on both sides, as I read it here, there is a willingness to push us further apart, to state how we are different, and not how we can work together. Either side (male, female) has to accept that there will always be disagreements between us, and that if someone from the opposite sex disagrees with you then that is part of life and not sufficient cause to damn through a too-easy generalisation.

  16. Yes, if you’ll allow this mansplanation – say nothing while holding up a little placard with ‘mansplaining’ or ‘mansplainer’ printed clearly on it(making sure, of course, you first spell the words correctly).

  17. so, a couple of points, ms down, before this article peters out, interest wise: is splaining ever gender neutral; and what exactly constitutes womansplaining, if the term does or were to exist?

  18. Have fun kiddies. We’ve all encountered it. Mansplaining, what a bore, but how important is it? I think Overland should get more intellectual about its topics.
    For instance, why hasn’t somebody decided to do a PhD on the overuse of the word”actually”, which crops up everywhere. This is a topic to get really cranked up about. Some writers (and speakers) and far too many broadcasters insert the word actually everywhere, in the belief that they look or sound important and erudite. It is really, really, REALLY, boring and lazy, actually. One budding “journalist” on the ABC said “…actually, ACTUALLY…” for double emphasis of her story, whatever that was. I recently heard someone say “actually… LITERALLY, ACTUALLY…” Oh my god!! Conversation peppered with “actually” is usually affected, boring and/or shallow. Actually is often used to pad something out, in writing, or, in speech, as a device to take either a breath, or to gain a pause. It is also used in speech to give emphasis to the point the speaker is making. When used in that way, it often has the effect of making the writer sound pretentious or affected. Ackshully…

    Or LOL. How boring. Does the writer really laugh laugh out loud? I doubt it. These are subjects to get really het up about.

  19. I am in no way convinced that the practise in question has anything to do with gender. In my experience it has more to do with personality type and again, in my experience women are just as likely to foist unwelcome and unnecessary explanations on others. Example: one day I (female) was browsing cosmetics in a city department store when the shop assistant (also female) asked if I had knowledge of the line’s creator. When I replied that I did; that in fact I had one of his books on make-up artistry, she then launched into a monologue explaining to me that he was a very famous make-up artist etc etc as though I had given completely the opposite answer to the one I had actually given.

    I’ve lost count of the times I haven’t been able to leave a shop for hours because female shop assistants want an audience for their soliloquies. I’ve seldom had the same experience with male shop assistants, though it has happened. I believe it’s more likely to be due to narcissism than gender.

    I’m more interested in why some insist on seeing this personality trait as a gender issue. There are always kiddies in the schoolyard who insist on “helping” the other kiddies, to whom it is necessary to explain that the other kiddies neither need or want their help.

    As a feminist I am very tired of feminists who make squealy, immature comments such as “My antifeminist cliche bingo card is filling up rapidly!”

    Characterising any person who happens to disagree with you as anti-feminist or misogynist or any other label you care to hang on them is the mark of a lazy intellect and is far too convenient. Whoops. I must be ‘splaining.

  20. Re some of these comments I am now seriously wondering about Overland’s audience. Who are these people/men? Now that’s a subject for a PhD.

  21. It’s a fair enough point, there’s a difference between, writing something, giving a speech, or having a discussion, I’ve seen this happen recently in a public meeting and yes it was a male, I think I’ve been guilty of it when I feel the public debate is descending into a meaningless argument about words and sentences to wit the environment debate is a good example, as in I see no debate in a scientific observation. I liked the article I think the term has been put in perspective and I’m taking it on board.

  22. It’s all about grooming, really, isn’t it? Watch sitcoms on commercial TV and learn your role. He tells you all about it. You nod and smile. Game over. We have to dig really deep into the culture to unpick all this undistinguished grooming aka education.

  23. Another boring, middle class anti-male blah, blah, blah. It’s funny I’ve been ‘womansplained’ by women who economically earn more money than I do (I live on the disability pension, so try living on that middle class brats). When it overland going to publish some real articles like women joining trade unions and stop dealing with middle class nanny issues.

  24. Not anti male, anti this behavior. I was describing my job when my father interrupted & tried to explain it. When I interrupted to correct him he was the aggrieved party. But it’s my job, the question was addressed to me & my right to answer. Alison Croggon & this article is right. It happens all the time because someone makes the assessment that your words are deficient & their’s more important because you are female, or poor, or POC or disabled. And it’s bloody frustrating.

  25. so the whole of overland’s daily article productivity gets a serve based on one article a particular individual dislikes for uncritiqued reasons? overland more than often cuts to the chase, for me. get ‘real’ yourself, eh?

  26. O so true. Just a few comments 1)- I suspect many men think leaping in and ‘being helpful’ by telling the cute chick how it really works/what’s really happening is attractive, because, you know, you’re being authoritative. Clearly to the woman whose authority is being thus undermined, it’s not that attractive; 2) I have actually had a man say of a statement of mine: ‘You don’t believe that.’ Egad; 3) I just love the way some blokes on Fb pull age on me as a counter to my arguments. Bless ‘em; I’m 61; 4) Of course it’s important to talk about these issues as otherwise they go unrecognised.

  27. My mansplain annoyance is when I am reversing into a carpark. I can back with and park a trailer,have driven various cars, utes throughout the United Kingdom and New Zealand, however some “helpful” male passerby always takes it on himself to give me instructions.
    A current New Zealand television advertisement shows a woman reversing a trailer into outdoor furniture. This stuff is endemic and further perpetuates the “helpless woman” myth.

  28. Thanks for this, Jennifer. As a tutor at university, I have been quite fortunate in not coming across this too often, that is until this semester. One of my male students came up to me after the class and told me he thought my interpretation of the term neoliberalism was faulty. Fair enough. But I was, I admit, quite taken aback. And I do have to say that more often than not it is a male student, rather than a female student, who attempts to correct me. But I am also guilty of doing the same thing… usually to family and friends who aren’t at university. So I agree that it’s not a gender issue, it’s an elitist behaviour issue. Great article.

    • I’d be interested to read how, why, when and where mansplaining is not a gender issue in Australia.

      • further, that’s what the writer of this article is claiming – that mainsplaining IS a gender issue:

        “The act of condescension is certainly not gendered. Mansplaining, however, as well as whitesplaining and cissplaining, is different because the person on the receiving end of the condescension – i.e. the person being explained to – also happens to be on the lower end of an institutionally lopsided power structure.”

  29. A fascinating debate, it’s like being pitched back into the early 70s, and it seems like nothing much has changed. Socialist feminist issues are designated as ‘middle class’, a debate about the way women are patronised in discussions with men is designated frivolous. Plus ca change. . .

  30. Just curious to know what people think separates mansplaning from condescension? Is it the motive – i.e. you’re being patronised because you’re a woman and therefore naturally wouldn’t know better?

    Or is it any patronising speech from a man to a woman based purely on the fact that the speech is coming from someone who benefits from the lopsided power structure?

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