Social Question

Demosthenes's avatar

Is "mansplaining" a valid concept?

Asked by Demosthenes (12231points) 1 month ago

mansplaining: The act of condescendingly explaining something, particularly by a man to a female listener, in order to appear knowledgeable, or from a mistaken presumption that she has an inferior understanding of the topic.

Have you ever been “mansplained” to? Have you ever been called out for “mansplaining”?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

52 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Yes, it’s valid. I have been guilty of doing it.

janbb's avatar

You tell me! :-)

canidmajor's avatar

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha…
Yes. Often. Repeatedly in the most absurd of circumstances.
Again and again.

Most recently, last week in a hardware store by a random man who made a point of wandering over to interrupt what I was doing to tell me it was unnecessary.

Zaku's avatar

It happens all the time.

Are you seriously asking whether “condescendingly explaining something” is a valid concept or not? Have you never heard even of the cliche` about a woman going to a mechanic?

Have you never noticed this happening, nor how common it tends to be with older men around?

I’d mainsplain it to you in agonizing detail, but that’d be too ironic. Irony, by the way, is… (no, I can’t.)

Demosthenes's avatar

@janbb Oh you :)

@Zaku I’m asking whether the inherent gendered property of this term is valid. It’s called “mansplaining” for a reason. I don’t think if a woman condescendingly explains something, it’s still called “mansplaining”. (But maybe it is?)

Personally, while I can’t say I’ve been “mansplained” to, I’ve been “gunsplained” before (and it wasn’t about “AR” not standing for “assault rifle”. :P)

Sometimes this just sounds like an issue of low self-esteem to me.

canidmajor's avatar

Yes, the inherent gendered property of this term is true, although it would more precisely be called “whitemansplaining”, at least in my experience.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh yes! My favorite was when I was shooting pool and the guy I was playing would mansplain how I should play the next shot.

Zaku's avatar

I hear that women love it when you explain to them how mansplaining is an invalid term born of issues of low self-esteem amongst the fairer sex, and how in your experience, it almost never happens.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
product's avatar

No. Not a valid concept – at least in popular usage.

Demosthenes's avatar

@product Is that “no” to the title question only or the two secondary questions as well? Feel free to elaborate.

Response moderated
product's avatar

@Demosthenes – The term is used as a tool to side-step arguments. It’s often used to take a conversation away from the content in order to avoid uncomfortable topics. It’s generally used in a reactionary context.

Demosthenes's avatar

@product Fair enough. There seem to be a number of methods of side-stepping arguments, like accusations of “whataboutism”.

product's avatar

^ Exactly! The “whataboutism” claim is another great example. In the case of “whataboutism”, this was intentionally devised to support reactionary positions. I think “mansplaining” is somewhat less cynical and evil. But the current use is similar. It is a term that serves power.

Dutchess_III's avatar

No. It’s what the OP said.

“The act of condescendingly explaining something, particularly by a man to a female listener, in order to appear knowledgeable, or from a mistaken presumption that she has an inferior understanding of the topic.”

If you haven’t experienced it you’re a man.

Mimishu1995's avatar

I’ve heard this term thrown around, but I assumed that it meant a man complaining about a woman’s behavior that didn’t fit his outdated expectation on women :P

And no, I have never been mansplained, but I think I’ve seen it happening once. It was on a FB post about Bill Gates donating for COVID research, and this angry guy basically responded that we shouldn’t trust Bill Gate because he had done shit like that before with other vaccines and his vaccine caused a genocide in poor African countries. Some people jumped on him, basically asking him where he got his information from and whether he had any beef with Bill Gates. The guy screamed at everyone to go google it and stopped idolizing Bill Gates. That would have been fine and all, but then he added that all responders were women and didn’t use their brain, and he was a man so he didn’t fall for Bill’s trap.

Well, random asshole on the Internet, I know you would never see this, but I did google your claim, and no, there is absolutely nothing about Bill Gates tricking African people into testing his vaccine and losing their ability to give birth. They couldn’t give birth because that was a vaccine for birth control! The controversy wasn’t about Bill giving people something and saying it was something else, it was the WHO recalling the vaccine because of some unwanted ingredient in it. What you have been reading are fear mongering news on FB and you think you are superior to other women just because you are a man and you did your “research” on FB. And yes, I’m a woman, and I’d love to hear how you explain yourself using your misogynistic mindset.

smudges's avatar

Sometimes this just sounds like an issue of low self-esteem to me.

I’m assuming you mean low self-esteem on the male explainer’s part. If so, I completely agree.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@smudges reminds me of that guy who felt the need to flex his wealth and social circle to me and called me naive for not talking much about myself and refused to eat certain food. He told me I had a lot to learn and proceeded to teach me things.

The reason why I didn’t talk much was because we had just met, and because he gave me a very negative vibe with all the flexing.

But even then I don’t call it mansplaining, I call it “showing off”. Mansplaining means I’m judging him based on his gender. Showing off means I’m calling him out for his personality alone.

smudges's avatar

hehehe I love it! Yeah, I know the type…went out with his brother, I believe.

ucancallme_Al's avatar

Woke, man hating, misery loves company bullshit.

smudges's avatar

@ucancallme_Al Nah, just males who denigrate females as incompetent, less-than-intelligent humans.

Response moderated (Flame-Bait)
Zaku's avatar

@Dutchess_III “If you haven’t experienced it you’re a man.”
– Yes, as a man who has listened to women, and then listened for mansplaining happening, started noticing it happening frequently, and caught myself doing it… she’s correct.

There are other patterns in our society that are similar and reinforce the behavior, but since we’re just trying to establish the existence of mansplaining, I’ll resist my urge to try to ‘splain what I’m thinking about those.

Zaku's avatar

For those who may yet doubt (or for others who want a laugh), I the huge effort to YouTube search a video with examples .

Response moderated
Stache's avatar

“The term is used as a tool to side-step arguments. It’s often used to take a conversation away from the content in order to avoid uncomfortable topics. It’s generally used in a reactionary context.“

^This! @product hit the nail on the head.

I’m not saying mansplaining doesn’t happen because it does, but there are many women who use the term to avoid a conversation.

I was friends with an older woman who always threw out this term whenever a man disagreed with her. We had a mutual male friend who is passionate about all forms of entertainment and is very verbose when the topic comes up. This woman posted her opinion on social media of a series finale of a popular show. My male friend kindly gave his take, which was a couple paragraphs long. It was one of his favorite shows. The woman quickly got defensive and rudely called him out as mansplaining. She was so rude that he decided to end that friendship. It really hurt him because he is not a mansplainer.

What she did was completely uncalled for. I lost any respect I had for that woman that day.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
Dutchess_III's avatar

Rick used to try to mansplain stuff to me. HahahajahahaHA!

Demosthenes's avatar

@Stache Some of us just like to talk about what we’re interested in. I’ve given long detailed answers to questions about linguistics and grammar because those are my areas of expertise. Such an answer from a male does not mean they’re “mansplaining”.

This reminds me of that discussion we had about “sealioning”. It’s definitely a thing; there are people who act like they want an honest debate, but all they’re doing is trolling you to agree with them. But at the same time, an accusation of it can be used to avoid having to explain and defend your position.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

If a woman is being mansplained to or if a person is being trolled, why do they need to defend themselves to the perpetrator?

Stache's avatar

^They don’t. They can walk away and ignore it or they can play the victim.

Easy choice if you ask me.

canidmajor's avatar

@Stache: Not “easy choice” if you are engaged in some kind of business with the mansplainer. At best, the “walk away” option is an inconvenience, but mostly it is either an enormous inconvenience or not even feasible.
“Playing the victim” is an inappropriate term, here, I think you don’t know what is actually going on.

Demosthenes's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake I’m differentiating between trolling (a legitimate case of sealioning) and using the term as a means of getting out of a debate when you realize you’re in over your head (should note that I’m speaking of internet interactions in this case, but an accusation of “mansplaining” could be used in the same way, to avoid a discussion).

canidmajor's avatar

Interesting how some of the men on this thread are turning it into a how-we-can-find-fault-with-women thing.

janbb's avatar

@Demosthenes I’m not sure you and others on this thread understand what mansplaining is since you don’t seem to have experienced it. In my experience of it, it has not usually been used in a discussion or the charge of it used to end discussion. It is used condescendingly to explain something to a woman at length that the woman has full knowledge of already. For example, if I were a female car mechanic and a customer felt they needed to tell me how to do a job. Or if I were the curator of a museum exhibit on Cezanne and a patron lectured me on his brush work.

This is not only done by men, women can be condescending know-it-alls, but it is more prevalently practiced by some men and it is annoying.

One more note. I have never verbally accused a man of mansplaining or used it to stop a discussion. I just recognize it internally when I hear it and that person goes down a notch in my mind.

chyna's avatar

Perfect example happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I’m going to stain my deck, which I do about every 2 years. One of the neighbors in the subdivision I walk in has a really nice color on his that I like. He was outside a couple weeks ago, so I stopped and asked him what color he used. He told me and went on for about 15 minutes explaining to me how to stain a deck. I already know. I even mentioned that I do it every 2 years. He continued anyway.
If anyone, man or woman, comes to me and asks what color I used on my deck, they would get the brand and color. That’s it. I don’t tell them how to do it unless they go on to ask. Now I would bet that if a man had asked the neighbor what color he used, he would get the color but not the lecture. This is called “mansplaining”.

product's avatar

@chyna: Now I would bet that if a man had asked the neighbor what color he used, he would get the color but not the lecture. This is called “mansplaining”.”

It’s quite possible that you’re right. This individual might have interacted differently if you were a “man”. However, I’m a “man” and get lectured all day long from men and women about things that I already know about. I can’t attribute this to “mansplaining”, because the concept implies that I should not get the lecture because of my gender.

I don’t doubt that there are sexist, condescending assholes that specifically believe that women are children and need to be enlightened. But I think the concept has a few inherent problems:

1. It’s unverifiable. If one feels they have been “mansplained” to, then they have been “mansplained” to. There is no verification. There is no way to determine if the criteria check out. The recipient of lecture can only _assume that said lecture would not occur under different gender conditions.

2. People show off their knowledge of things for many reasons. Peoples’ identities are complex things, and the sharing of knowledge is an interaction that is complex. Some people build their entire identity as one of a “knower”. Explaining their knowledge is important to the project of maintaining their concept of self. There are professions that lend themselves to this (managerial, physicians, etc). Their entire non-professional life becomes an exercise in arrogance, where they have to assume that everyone they come in contact with is lacking their expertise.

3. Because it’s not verifiable, the concept of “mansplaining” was ripe for exploitation. It’s a meta term, and requires a step out of the topic at hand in order to address. So, it’s commonly used to serve the status quo in arguments. Therefore, if a right-wing woman holds a problematic view regarding anything (race, imperialism, economics, etc), they can claim “mansplaining” when they are called on it.

I was probably too dismissive to say that the concept doesn’t exist. What I should have said is that the concept is too problematic to be of use.

Demosthenes's avatar

I mean for crying out loud my dad does this and I have to respond with “Dad, I know how to do it. I’m almost 30, I’m not 12”. It’s just how he is. He likes to explain things, he has a lot of specific knowledge in specific areas and sometimes he gets a bit enthusiastic and it can come off as condescending (obviously it’s a different dynamic because he’s my parent and still regards me as his kid and can underestimate the experience I’ve had).

@product To your point #1, while I agree, can’t this be applied to other ideas in a somewhat problematic way? When people say they’ve been “violated”, for example, it often ends there. If you feel you’ve been violated, you have been violated. The definition of being “violated” is based on how you feel. But it also implies that someone else has done something wrong and that’s difficult to prove.

product's avatar

@Demosthenes: “To your point #1, while I agree, can’t this be applied to other ideas in a somewhat problematic way? When people say they’ve been “violated”, for example, it often ends there. If you feel you’ve been violated, you have been violated. The definition of being “violated” is based on how you feel. But it also implies that someone else has done something wrong and that’s difficult to prove.”

Exactly !!!!

Note how “violated” and “mansplaining” differ. This is critical. You’ve already explained how the violation doesn’t depend on any assumption. But “mansplaining” does. If “mansplaining” was a concept that depended on the “if I were not gender x” assumption, nobody would have any issue with it. It would be verifiable and it would 10000% valid. But since it’s the complete opposite of the concept of “violation”, we have a major problem. A reactionary one.

product's avatar

* @product: “If “mansplaining” was a concept that depended on the “if I were not gender x” assumption, nobody would have any issue with it.”

Should be didn’t depend.

longgone's avatar

@product I agree with most of what you said, but one part surprises me:

“It’s unverifiable. If one feels they have been “mansplained” to, then they have been “mansplained” to. There is no verification. There is no way to determine if the criteria check out. The recipient of lecture can only assume that said lecture would not occur under different gender conditions.

That surprises me. It seems quite possible to have men and women ask the same question in, for example, a hardware store. Then control for other factors (age seems relevant) and time the length of unsolicited explanations. In fact, I bet it’s been done.

Did I misunderstand you? If so, please explain. I am asking you to :)

To answer the general question, I also think it’s a valid concept. It’s annoying and it happens way too often.

It’s also true that being on the lookout for it can create a false picture. For example, I was on a bike ride with my husband today. We crossed a road, and his warning words were “There’s cars coming from the left, and there might be some coming from the right as well.” Was he mansplaining how roads work? My mind went there, mostly because I had been thinking about this question – but of course, he was actually just anxious about the amount of traffic and trying to make sure I was safe. There’s an anxious explanation style that looks very similar to mansplaining, but does not come from a place of superiority.

product's avatar

@product: “It’s unverifiable.”

@longgone: “That surprises me. It seems quite possible to have men and women ask the same question in, for example, a hardware store. Then control for other factors (age seems relevant) and time the length of unsolicited explanations. In fact, I bet it’s been done”

Absolutely. But note that the difference here. It’s only testable in a controlled setting, and it still doesn’t tell us what “mansplaining” supposedly does. Like @Demosthenes mentioned, the concept of a man violating a woman is 100% verifiable – because a woman has been violated if she feels she has been violated. But the concept of “mansplaining” is the complete opposite. It isn’t dependent on the feelings or intuition of the lectured-to. “Mansplaining” is a term that describes that actual interaction in a way that doesn’t depend on the experience of the person being lectured to.

For example, I worked from home yesterday so my plumber could check out a problem we’re having with a very loud noise coming from our pressure reducing valve (PRV). He spent a good 5 minutes explaining the rationale behind the PRV and how it can cause issues with noise if it fails. Now, I had spent 3 straight days researching all of this, and was quite busy, so I really wish he had saved the plumbing lesson for someone else.

If I were a woman, would this have been “mansplaining”? Since life is not a controlled experiment, we’re only left with our own interpretation of why the lecture about PRVs seemed so important to him. If my wife had stayed home instead and was faced with the lecture, would it have been accurate to describe this as “mansplaining”?

However, if my wife had stayed home, and the plumber violated her personal space or spoke in a way that made her feel unsafe, there would be no question of the violation.

Does this make sense?

@longgone: “It’s also true that being on the lookout for it can create a false picture.”

This is a good point. Men and women interact with each other in ways that are bathed in culture and class. A man or woman could go on about the details of something for any number of reasons. These instances of so-called “mansplaining” could be attempts to impress or attempt at repairing feelings of intellectual inadequacy. Coming from a “place of superiority” is certainly a possibility. But reducing all interactions of this type to sexist “superiority” is both inaccurate and can be quite bourgeois.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Don’t know why it took me so long to think of this, but I used to own a mower sales and service shop. Mansplaining by male customers to me was off the rails!! Because every man is a mechanic you know. (Not!!)

Dutchess_III's avatar

We got a 62 Beetle a few years back. It was a manual. Without even asking if I knew how drive on Rick started splaing to me how to drive one.
I glanced at him, annoyed, and took off.
I drove a manual until 1999.

Dutchess_III's avatar

And then there was the time he was going to learn me how to fish.

SMH.

smudges's avatar

^^ LMAO ‘learn me’! I love that term!

I actually bought a Datsun 210 manual without knowing how to drive it. A friend got us home and learnt me how to drive it!

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther