Chagrin Falls: Gavin Smythe's Isle of Mansplaining


Originally published at:

Tom the Dancing Bug, IN WHICH Gavin Smythe of Chagrin Falls USA has a Very Important Opinion that he needs to tell you.


I’m sorry, but I need this joke explained to me.


Men Explain Things to Me


That hardly ever happens to me.


Hey Gavin, you can do the same thing as these women.

If you find yourself in a group where everyone just wants you to shut up and listen to them tell you about all their problems, you are not required to stay. Walk away and go find some more congenial company.



Ah! Okay, I’ve read a few of Rebecca Solnit’s books, but didn’t know about this column. Guess it’s widely known, and I missed it?


I can’t tell if you’re commenting on how there wasn’t really a joke here, just a on-the-nose rehash of what mansplaining is, or whether, like me, the on-the-noseness of it made you feel like maybe there was a second layer that you weren’t getting. To me, this was played so broadly, it almost felt like the people being mocked were those leaving. I am confuse


I think there’s no further subtext, due to the last panel. He says this “proves his point” which means that his point was to talk about how white men are the victims. I used to go to a local atheist meetup in another city when I lived there and there was almost always a moment of “oh god here comes the lecture from some guy who knows nothing about what we’re talking about and wasn’t asked or waved over by anyone but is going to plop his stuff down and tell us all about which things in our lives are real or not and whether we have the right to feel or think anything about it.” You can’t say anything because then you’re being rude. So you either have to wait it out or find an excuse to use the restroom for twenty minutes or something. I’m pretty sure that vibe is all that the comic is really getting at. But then…hehe… I may need it explained!


I was just very confused on what the joke was - I didn’t even “get” the whole mansplaining thing until another commenter steered me to the article. As for a second layer, hell, I’m still feeling a bit in the dark about the first layer.


That’s my first-glance reading as well, although it almost feels like the author had to cram that last line in just to make sure the reader agreed with him and “got the joke” (there was no joke).

However, I almost feel like you could read a meta-joke into the whole thing. The reader doesn’t know the situation before the first panel, if there was any history to the discussion between himself and the ladies talking, if he was actually going to say something insightful, etc. All you know is that the rest of the characters despise him speaking up for some reason - is it a valid one? Is he actually a victim of his social group or are they correct to shun him (notably, while helping themselves to the food he appears to be providing and preparing, more on that in a minute)?

As it turns out, he is a boor. However, he is a boor that is opening his home and wallet to feed his friends and neighbors, but they apparently are happy to partake of his largess on the sole condition that he keep his mouth shut.

On this deeper examination, you could interpret the author’s message as a profoundly racist one - that the white man is expected to maintain a social role as upstanding provider and taxpayer (from which other groups benefit), but is no longer allowed to have a voice, actually making him a victim as he states in the final panel.

I obviously do not agree with this message, but it’s interesting that it is probably an interpretation that at least some would come to on reading it and that in some circumstances might be considered valid.


I think “keep his mouth shut” is a little too broad. The idea is that there are some things that people don’t want to hear middle aged white guy’s opinion on – partly b/c that opinion is already expressed at a bloody loud volume across almost every TV and radio station and on most of the column inches in most magazines and newspapers. Like I’m sure there’s a lot of things he could say that would go over fine, but there’s obviously some that are not so good (it wouldn’t be generous to invite your black neighbors over and then use the opportunity to throw the n-word around).

Maybe turn it around. This guy invites a bunch of guests over to a backyard BBQ, but didn’t tell them that their invitations are dependent on listening to his tendentious corrections of their perspectives and opinions. When they find out, they decide that they’re not enjoying the BBQ quite enough to pay the “entry fee” so to speak – so they leave.


This comic is a fine example of why I’m desperately seeking an alternative to the goddamned right that isn’t the goddamned left. There’s nobody in that comic, including the author, who doesn’t come across as a complete narcissistic ass.


I think conflating “wanting to be listened to” with “hating women” is exactly the kind of dumb kneejerk hyperbole they were concerned about.


Well, actually…


I’m telling you… I quite enjoyed that. Thank you.


No one made that equivalence.

On the other hand, conflating “wanting to be listened to” with butting into a conversation is a fine example of hyperbole.


“I have a right to speak” is truth. “You have a duty to listen” is not.


Not sure where you’re getting this “hating women” snetiment from, but if we reframe as “insisting on interjecting one’s opinion” vs. “respecting the opinions of others” then suddenly it’s not so clearly hyperbole, wouldn’t you say?


It hit home for me- when everyone knows that the ‘conversation’ is over, and the lecture is about to begin. In this case, mansplaining.