Women Being Explained About the Subjects of Their Expertise: Mansplaining
Mansplaining happens when a man explains to a woman something she actually knows, and usually, he explains it in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.
The normalization of mansplaining begins with the conflicting sociocultural ideas of the “young lady” and “boys will be boys.”
The myth that says women talk more than men has been a persistent lie; an annoying sentence used every time men just feel uncomfortable about women talking freely and loudly. Remember that. It is not just mansplaining but also about women being silenced.
"Not only do men talk more than women, they interrupt more”
The term "mansplaining" was born in 2008, in an essay written by Rebecca Solnit titled “Men Explain Things to Me”. It is a very solid and important text on which she takes a very light anecdote and ends up pointing the worst consequences of mansplaining. But before the term was acknowledged and spread, women have been experimenting with mansplaining from early childhood until later years. It happens no matter the context (home, academy, work, travel) and the level of education and knowledge the woman being mansplained might have. A “cousin” term of mansplaining is Manterrupting and it is defined as an “unnecessary interruption to men towards women who are speaking.”
In her essay, Solnit talks about a situation in which a guy explains her own book to her, thinking that it belonged to a different author who wrote about the same subject, and even after he is being told by Solnit’s friend about it… He keeps talking about the subject without pause and the worst part is the fact that he did not even read her work, he was just into the review another platform made about her work. This kind of mansplaining situation can happen as verbal interpretations, there have been made many linguistic analyses and social media analyses about the attitudes towards this historical tendency of men to feel that they have to dominate the conversation.
The saddest part of the hard data, the academic review, is that most women have been mansplained by men; silenced at home, college and work. Altogether, mansplaining along with manterrupting and some other practices that lead women to be silenced or ignored as a result, can happen in conversational dynamics, but in fact, when this practice is institutionalized, the consequences are terrible and are experienced over and over by women, worldwide. For example, in Mexico, at least 10 women are murdered (usually by their male partner) DAILY. Part of the inability of law enforcement to apply the restraining orders is the lack of validation these women have, regarding their own experience and this last dynamic happens in most countries, including the U.S.; sometimes women are misheard by their own relatives, silenced by the police, even mocked by the officer when giving their statement; statement that later becomes a precedent for the homicide. So basically, women are not validated witnesses of their own experiences.
“Most women fight wars on two fronts, one for whatever the putative topic is and one simply for the right to speak, to have ideas, to be acknowledged to be in possession of facts and truths, to have value, to be a human being.”
Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (2015) wrote a book (among many) named “The Unwomanly Face of War” and it is based on around 500 hundred testimonies of women who participated in war (as nurses, doctors, pilots, tank drivers, machine gunners, and snipers) about the role they had, their perspective, feelings, and final thoughts. Without those testimonies, all that is left is mostly war movies directed, scripted, and edited by men talking about the glory of war and the infinite moral rectitude of the dominant culture's soldiers. More than that, in some passages it can be seen how women are silenced not only at the end of the war when men took them from the field straight into the kitchen or tried to stop them from giving their visions of war even several years later, during the book’s interviews.
If an author ever tries to collect stories about how many bad outcomes could have been avoided by listening to women, it should take an infinite update, a never-ending saga. Some reactions to the phenomenon of calling out mansplaining turned into men explaining that their explaining is “not gender-oriented”. Only a few men have been educated or self-taught about the right to gender equality or the value of women's discourse. So far, women must support women because hardly, a man is going to highlight a female opinion among others. It is recommendable to be angry instead of ashamed when mansplaining happens.
Aleksievich, S., Pevear, R., & Volokhonsky, L. (2018). The unwomanly face of war. Penguin Books.
Bridges, J. (2017). Gendering metapragmatics in online discourse: “Mansplaining man gonna mansplain…”. Discourse, Context & Media, 20, 94–102. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcm.2017.09.010
Kidd, A. G. (n.d.). Mansplaining: The Systematic Sociocultural Silencer. 12.
Koc-Michalska, K., Schiffrin, A., Lopez, A., Boulianne, S., & Bimber, B. (2021). From Online Political Posting to Mansplaining: The Gender Gap and Social Media in Political Discussion. Social Science Computer Review, 39(2), 197–210. https://doi.org/10.1177/0894439319870259
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