The term “mansplaining” is a relatively new one. After first being innovated by the author Rebecca Solnit in 2008, it allowed women to describe a common experience they share for which they never had the terminology. “Mansplaining” went beyond the generics like “patronizing” and “presumptuous” and shed light on a profoundly negative side that men explaining things to women has.
Unfortunately, unsolicited explanations from men who are neither your teacher nor your manager are all too common. But to see the level of absurdity and obviousness of the things women have mansplained to them, we have to look at the actual instances that happened to them in real life.
So when Twitter user Nicole Froio, who’s a PhD on sexual violence and masculinity, asked women to share “the most obvious thing a man has ever mansplained to you,” the answers started pouring in one after another. Both ludicrous and plain irritating, they speak thousands of words about power imbalance and gender bias, which shouldn’t be the case when we live in 2021.
Read more irritating mansplaining cases as shared by women in our previous article right here.
Image credits: NicoleFroio
Bored Panda reached out to the author of the thread, Nicole Froio, who is a feminist writer and researcher. Nicole explained that “mansplaining is one of many daily aggressions women go through in a sexist and misogynistic society, so it has to be understood as a part of a larger system of oppression rather than an isolated incident.”
It comes from the assumption that “women and other non-men don't have the intelligence to understand the topic at hand, which is a sexist and misogynistic assumption. The mansplainer will explain something that the woman probably already knows already, usually in a condescending and infantilizing way.”
According to Nicole, it depends where the act of mansplaining happens. For example, when it’s in a professional setting, “this can result in the woman in a professional setting feeling disrespected and/or inept for doing their job, they could feel like they've been publicly humiliated in front of their colleagues and feel a general loss of respect for her expertise."
For the men who’re wondering about not coming across as mansplainers, Nicole says that simply asking can go a long way. “Instead of assuming a person doesn't know about a certain topic, why not ask 'Do you know how this works?' or 'I'm not sure if you're familiar with this, but if you do, feel free to stop me.'” These simple questions can correct the behavior that might accidentally harm someone.
Even though Nicole said that mansplaining is not one of the worst things experienced by women in a patriarchal system, she sees it wrong because “it rectifies the gender structure on an interpersonal level.”
“For example, you might be a woman in a male-dominated industry where your expertise is already undervalued because that field is male-dominated, and then one of your colleagues mansplains a simple concept everyone in the office is familiar with.”
Such cases can do long-term harm to women. “This can lead to things like imposter syndrome and an unwelcome work environment for women, where people's suspicions about the woman's supposed lack of expertise are rectified by the mansplaining."
When asked how one should react to being mansplained to, Nicole said that personally she finds being assertive quite important when responding to mansplaining. “I usually respond by saying things like 'Thanks for explaining, but I already knew that' or even interrupting the mansplainer and saying 'Sorry to interrupt, but I already know that, so we can move onto the next topic instead of wasting time?’”
Your response can just be a gentle nudge to the fact that you are knowledgeable and that you don't need an explanation, Nicole concluded.