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The term ‘mansplaining’ is used when a man explains something (that might be very obvious) to someone, usually a woman, in a way that is condescending, oversimplified, or patronizing, or all three. In fact, mansplaining can also happen to other men. It is usually an unsolicited explanation given regardless of how much he knows.
By definition, there’s mansplaining in almost every aspect of society that requires some form of relationship (usually a power play) or communication. It happens online, at work, dates and all the other places you can think of.
When called out for mansplaining, men tend to get defensive because they are usually clueless about it. They do not know when they are doing it and this is mainly based on the way they are socialised. By constantly doing this, whether men like it or not, they are adding to the struggle women face when it comes to speaking up. Being treated like you do not know what you are saying, even though you do, definitely increases the likelihood of self-doubt. If you think about it, there’s nothing sensible about a grown man constantly giving opinions he is not even sure of just for the sake of speaking. This is the type of confidence that comes with patriarchy.
Map of a mansplainer illustrationEven though some say mansplaining is a sexist word and should not be used in certain situations, it does not change the fact that it happens. To illustrate, imagine a panel discussion on an issue that solely affects women with only male panellists. Let’s go further and imagine there are women on said panel but the men keep turning down or dismissing the opinions and experiences of the women.
A key issue with mansplaining is that it assumes the woman (or man) is unaware or has no understanding of an issue. A man might have the same or even less knowledge about a subject but be much more vocal about it than his counterparts, especially the female ones. So, whether you see mansplaining as a sexist word or not, it happens.
The reason ‘mansplaining’ was coined remains the same. Gender inequality exists and society has made it easier for men to keep this status quo. As a man, if you’re conversing with women and you tend to overlook and dismiss their opinions, knowledge, expertise or experience, you are most likely mansplaining with yours.

Am I mansplaining?

Image credit: Kim Goodwin

Here’s a detailed explanation of mansplaining.

 

By: Oshoriame Egbakhumeh

See also: Beware! There Might Be A Misogynist At Your Workplace

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