2008 was the earliest use of the word "mansplain"

And, crucially, stop if the person you’re talking to indicates that they’ve gotten what they need from the conversation, and accept it if they say they know more about the subject at hand than you do.

Mansplaining is jumping into AstroKatie’s mentions to “well, actually” her tweets on astrophysics when it’s almost a statistical certainty that she knows way more about the subject than you do. It’s not answering a colleague’s question.


I think this is a good question, actually. You might ask the person your talking to about a particular work problem what they already know, and you can couch your explanation of whatever the issues around that. We all have to curb some of our normal tendencies (especially those of us who like to go about what we do know) in public life in general. If you’re discussing an issue with a colleague, a man or a woman, but especially a woman, it’s just a good idea to be mindful of this issue in general and how women are often treated in work environments in general. You might still find yourself offering unsolicited knowledge or information, but as long as you make it clear that you’re interested in your colleagues input into whatever you’re doing together, it goes a long way to dealing with this issue.

I don’t think it is, because I can’t know what you’re thinking about this issue. If we’re co-workers and you have some information I need to, say, complete a particular project, some area of expertise that I’m unclear on, and I ask you for advice, then you should certainly offer it - that’s not mansplaining, that’s normal discourse during work, colleagues sharing knowledge. If I’m talking about a project that I know well and you come in and offer advice that wasn’t asked for, even if it’s an area you’re not familiar with and I am, that’s mansplaining. It isn’t just men talking to women, it’s men talking to women as if we’re in need of guidance from men, no matter our level of expertise in an area.


This exactly. The way to avoid this is to stay aware of those you’re talking to.


Also, is not the Socratic method the best method? Obviously as a scientist I’m in favor of enthusiastically sharing knowledge. But asking questions, in appropriate settings and contexts, instead of launching into breathless lectures can save everyone a lot of valuable time.


Didn’t I see what you did there? :wink:


I was actually thinking that my own use wasn’t a good example. A good example, again in the right situation and context, could be, Are you familiar with the Socratic method and what do you think about its use in avoiding presumptive questions?

Whereas the way I used it was pretty blatantly a rhetorical question, which in some contexts is weasel-y.



Catching up on several days of posts, and loving this thread. One thing that came to mind immediately: I don’t talk at people (gender irrelevant), I converse with them. It should always be a give and take process, acknowledging each others experience. I’ve had a quiet word with one colleague in the past after hearing him deliver a textbook example of the problem at hand. He didn’t seem to be aware of what he’d done.

… of course, if someone straight out asks for my advice/opinion on something, I’m more than happy to hold forth until they cry uncle :wink:


And therein lies the difference.

I have to cast a side eye to anyone who immediately gets ‘offended’ by the term, or who gets annoyed by any discussion of the existence of the problem.



The problem, of course, is that it’s frequently not possible to separate genuine and innocent assumptions of ignorance from misogynistic condescension. It’s possible that the explainer would have acted precisely the same towards a male in the same circumstances. Though we can all agree that there is no shortage of misogynistic and condescending people in the world.

“The problem”?

That sounds like a problem for (some) men. The problem at hand for women is, simply, that a lot of men mansplain. Dont worry, they can tell when someone is or isn’t doing that.


Mansplaining is like being an asshole or a good person, in that one can strive to be or not to be any of those things, but the judgement of others is up to them to evaluate how they’re being treated.


It should also be noted that just because certain terms that describe societal problems get overused by some people doesn’t mean that those problems don’t exist at all.

Racism is a perfect example.

Black folks get accused of playing the “race card” all the damn time; and while there are some of us who may use that as a crutch, that still doesn’t negate the existence of systemic racism or the countless subliminal microaggressions that most of us endure perpetually.




Edited for better gif.


What of those with cognitive deficits, insufficient socialization, right brain developmental or damage issues resulting in decreased ability to comprehend prosodic and sublingual context, Asperger’s syndrome, &etc.?

I work in high tech, so I meet a lot of people (both male and female, but primarily male) who are not necessarily physiologically capable of very high social function. They are not bad people just because the socially able find their demeanor condescending; generally speaking such folks are doing the best they can, trying to follow cues that are hard or impossible for them to see. I’m not sure they deserve anyone’s derision.

This has been a great conversation, thanks to those that have participated. :slight_smile:

So, for me, “mansplain” has meant the following:

I’ve spent a long time doing my job and mentoring subordinates. I have a lot of history and a lot of ideas, knowledge and theories to share on virtually any subject tangentially related to my field. I often find myself launching into overly long or complex digressions or leaps down the metaphorical rabbit-hole of discussions and need to check myself to ensure that I’m having a discussion, not lecturing. I’m betting I’m not alone in this - I’d wager that anyone whose job revolves around either gathering information or teaching needs to check themselves from time to time mentally!

But, while I am guilty of this behaviour, it has tended to be because I have a lot of information and like to share it when I find an interested audience, not because I believe the audience to be “beneath” me on some level.

Where I believe this behaviour crosses into “mansplaining” is when someone takes gender, consciously or otherwise, as one of these traits that put the listener “beneath” them. Because I work in tech, this is all too common.

For example, I see instances of female developers who, when choosing to ask questions of a colleague, being given answers that assume a novice level understanding of a given subject. A male counterpart asking the same question would often instead be answered at a “peer” level of skill, and answered in a fashion more appropriate to that perceived status.

Another common example my partner has relayed to me is in gaming. She often chooses male avatars or to not use voice chat options because this often avoids messages from men who feel the need to explain her role, class, or abilities to her, often despite the fact that she has already been using these skills or abilities effectively.

In other words, there is a close tie between misogyny (conscious or otherwise), and mansplaining. Because women are assumed to know less or understand less, discussions intended to “teach” seem to start at a much more novice level than the same discussion would with a male listener.

I think the reason this behaviour is so widespread is that, IMHO, many of these men are approaching the discussion from a genuine desire to help - they believe stepping back and having these conversations from a “simpler” or “more basic” level is helping, not patronizing. And I think this is why, for these men, being called out about the behaviour often results in such strong reactions.

As a man, this term is not mine to define. This is, however, how I’ve interpreted its meaning in my own life and interactions. :slight_smile:


Nailed it. Self awareness and awareness of the listeners’ interest level (or lack thereof) is a key factor for all intelligent peeps who want to share their knowledge but wish to avoid being a Cliff Claven.


Mansplaining isnt simply whenever a man explains anything to a woman; and those who glibly try to insist that’s what women mean by the term are doing themselves and everyone else a disservice.

Mansplaining is a very specific type of condescension and marginalization directed at women based upon the automatic assumption of ignorance due to to gender.

A guy simply explaining something to a woman who was truly previously unaware of the info he’s providing isn’t what we’re talking about when we use the term.

Lastly, nobody really cares if anyone’s ‘offended’ by the term for whatever reasons; it’s apt, and it’s not likely to fall out of usage any time soon.



I really appreciate your insights here, orenwolf.

I like you can get a bit unwieldy with explaining things, and for similar reasons it sounds like — technical field, lots of specific knowledge in my mental kb that often needs to be relayed, etc. Always a struggle for me to find the right line — however when I cross it, it has nothing to do with gender issues as far as I can tell (I do the same thing with people of all genders, backgrounds, etc. and has nothing to do with looking down upon).

1 Like

I’m going to exit the thread with a final comment, @Melz2. And then I really will exit.

All I think I was looking for, personally, was even a small bit of acknowledgement that sometimes the word is indeed tossed out in the wrong context. It has happened to me, as I explained. I never denied that mansplaining is a real thing, that it’s representative of a problem, our society’s deep misogyny. Just that, sometimes, it gets thrown around when the situation is not, as your definition goes, “mansplaining.”

Now, I’m not going to cry myself to sleep that I didn’t get that, let’s just call it validation. That’s not-so-much why I hang out on the bb forums, I have other areas in my life for that. However, the degree to which my point was invalidated, that was perhaps a bit surprising to me.


And off I go… See you in the next thread. :slight_smile: