Then my work here is done.
Since it looks like no one else is going to ask a gauche question: What is the difference between explaining and mansplaining?
No worries miss, the difference is actually really simple once you think about it.
Well, actually Mansplaining is the attempt to correct womisunderstanding
How many MRAs does it take to change a lightbulb?
None, they just compliment it and get mad when it won’t screw.
Mansplaining is the condescending and rather insulting act of “a guy ‘explaining’ things to a woman in a way that not only assumes that he knows everything and that she knows nothing,” typically in topics in which the woman will be extremely familiar with.
The difference is this: someone actually interested in explaining or at least educating someone else on a given topic will make the effort to see what the other person knows already and see what their knowledge bases have in common, and will often at least wait for an invitation to explain (as was the case here), or at least be polite and non-dismissive in initiating the conversation.
In contrast, a mansplainer will instead condescendingly dismiss what has been stated by the other person, typically with the lead-in statement of “Well, actually,” (hence the joke), and proceed to dictate to the other person what they believe is actually the case. This basically comes across as meaning “Well, actually, you’re completely wrong, and I am here to educate you on things that you have to live with everyday, because I am just that knowledgeable about how you live and your life, and you aren’t.”
Alternative versions of ‘-splaining’ have been spotted in other interactions online, with ‘white-splainers’ telling African-Americans what racism actually is, and ‘goy-splainers’ telling Jews what anti-Semitism actually is, to note two types that I personally witness on a routine basis.
The prime example (and allegedly the origin of the term) is Rebecca Solnit’s story, referenced here: http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175584/
TL:DR, a guy proceeds to tell a woman all about a very important book … which she in fact wrote.
This is the archetypal example:
He cut me off soon after I mentioned Muybridge. “And have you heard about the very important Muybridge book that came out this year?”
So caught up was I in my assigned role as ingénue that I was perfectly willing to entertain the possibility that another book on the same subject had come out simultaneously and I’d somehow missed it. He was already telling me about the very important book — with that smug look I know so well in a man holding forth, eyes fixed on the fuzzy far horizon of his own authority.
Here, let me just say that my life is well-sprinkled with lovely men, with a long succession of editors who have, since I was young, listened and encouraged and published me, with my infinitely generous younger brother, with splendid friends of whom it could be said — like the Clerk in The Canterbury Tales I still remember from Mr. Pelen’s class on Chaucer — “gladly would he learn and gladly teach.” Still, there are these other men, too. So, Mr. Very Important was going on smugly about this book I should have known when Sallie interrupted him to say, “That’s her book.” Or tried to interrupt him anyway.
But he just continued on his way. She had to say, “That’s her book” three or four times before he finally took it in. And then, as if in a nineteenth-century novel, he went ashen.
My friend actually just told me a story about getting mansplained: she’s at lunch with 4 male co-workers, when one of them asks her about the subject of her doctorate. So she told him (I honestly can’t remember what it was, some sociopolitical topic), and he proceeded to explain to her why none of her ideas would work. Using the same objections she refutes in her thesis.
This went on for several minutes until the other guys at the table shut him down.
I drink only distilled water, or rainwater, and only pure-grain alcohol.
Yes. And then becomes totally bumfuzzled when she says that she’s the one who wrote the book he’s been going on and on about.
It’s also in her expansion of that piece, this book. The root problem, it seems, is men who (largely unconsciously) just can’t see that many lady brains work really well. Sometimes even better than their own.
That Rebecca Solnit article was fascinating. Thanks everyone!
To be fair, he was in W.A. so it was either that or Emu Bitter.
The term comes from Rebecca Solnit who had a man try to explain HER book to her at a party:
The word itself is not in the article though, right? I wonder if it was a direct inspiration for it as well as a great example.
Do you want me to steal this joke because it’s too late, I already did.