In 2014 Oxford Dictionary added the word ‘Mansplaining’ to the dictionary (along with douchebag). It is surprising that Oxford added two gendered terms to the dictionary in this day an age. The definition for douchebag (an obnoxious or contemptible person, typically a man) is incredibly vague and unhelpful… However, the word mansplain denotes a straightforward pattern of behaviour that is still not that well known.
(Of a man) explain (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.
I often run into instances where this word is completely misunderstood. In fact, quite often, the miserable pain I feel in my head when listening to youtubers is that they do not understand the concept of the subject they are talking about but feel incredibly empowered in explaining it to others. Which is why this video reply to ‘Is PC Culture Anti-Free Speech?’ from MrRepzion is a gem on many levels. When you take down a subject with no understanding of it, it rarely comes out as a legit critique. Which is an example of ‘mansplaining’. But on top of this, in this video where MrRepzion explains what PC Culture is to Franchesca Ramsey, he also confidently rants against ‘mansplaining’ without knowing what the term means. Which is super duper meta.
Don’t get me wrong I have clocked tens of thousands of hours having men explain things to me. Of course I have typically male-oriented interests but also, most people who are picked to explain things in all medias are men. The difference between educational speech and mansplaining is the condescending. I have pasted below my comment from this video which includes an example of it.
Is mansplaining sexist?
On the surface it seems like adding a gendered term to the dictionary would be sexist. However, throughout history, there have been many gendered and seemingly sexist terms added to the dictionary. A good example of this is ‘old wives tales‘. This is a word that was coined and added to the dictionary in order to explain an existing phenomenon. That phenomenon is old people (mostly women) passing on dubious information to young people as if it is factual! In this regard we see ‘old wives tales’ as a distant cousin of ‘mansplaining’.
So much of our modern human experience lacks words to describe it!
Why don’t we hear ‘Old Wives Tales’ anymore? Maybe because we have moved from a society where elders pass on information to one where people frantically search WebMD looking for a disease to call their own.
Adding words to our common language is good. Of course, developing words to describe a varied, rich and fascinating humanity is bound to frighten some people… That’s because new words imply yet another pocket of unknown. The more you grow up, the more you get to understand how much more there is to know. Eventually you might get overwhelmed by all that you can’t know. The Mountain of Knowledge is huge.
With the advent of social media and the removal of old gate keepers, we see a lot of people having conversations about subjects such as sexism, harassment, gender and other aspects of life experience. Sometimes, new words get coined. Sometimes we see the spreading of academic terms used to talk about our shared humanity.
Globalization also brings new words into our culture. Schadenfreude, the German word that means “the pleasure derived from someone else’s pain” sounds pretty sadistic on its own but cannot describe the particular glee with which tweeps gang up to turn knives in other people’s back on Twitter. For the most part Web 3.0 is Schadenfreude-as-a-service.
Today, people get seriously bent-out-of-shape over words and dismiss everybody else as fast as possible. The conversation becomes about who used what word instead of what they were trying to express. It is quite amazing how the Western world is crumbling over words.
Mansplaining might be a sexist word, but it is also, unfortunately, super accurate.
Whatever we call it ‘mansplaining’ or ‘patronizing’ (which, is a gendered term also, same difference), it is going to continue to happen. All the fucking time.
When encountering a mansplainer, I try to, as fast as possible, ask him a 301 question. I mean if I am going to be stuck here for twenty minutes listening to Physics 101, I might as well extract useful information about Physics from my mansplainer. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always result in an answer. Often, a mansplainer is simply much more confident than knowledgeable about a topic. I pride myself on knowing enough about most topics that I can either, ask super advanced questions or make jokes. I am basically trading the knowledge I’ve picked up from reading all the encyclopaedias to learn more about a person than they would ever be willing to admit, as they hide behind a veil of intellectualism.
Pro tip: If you want people to think you are smart, try listening to them and asking good questions. If you want to be smart, try listening to people. If all else fails, simply pay attention to what is going on around you. Attention is the most precious and rare of human resources.
Which brings me to womansplaining.
I use womansplaining in the tagline for this blog as means of mirroring the never-ending boastfulness of classic narcissistic dicktators I like to make fun of.