Misogyny on the Internet has been a very hot topic these past several days, what with the Reddit business I wrote about here and this new business with Penn Jillette and the Tweet written about by Jen McCreight here (“The Straw Woman of the Skeptical Movement), and like all hot topics online it comes with comments. Lots and lots of comments that follow at this point a fairly predictable pattern. Within the first twenty on any well-trafficked blog you’ll probably see someone accused of mansplaining, and someone else objecting to the term, on the basis of not understanding what it actually is or simply not liking the way the word sounds. With that confusion in mind, I drew something up that hopefully illustrates what mansplaining is and is not.
The term “mansplaining” is a portmanteau of “man” and “explaining.” A definition of the term can be found in a blog post by Karen Healey, “A Woman’s Born to Weep and Fret,” with an excerpt here:
Mansplaining is when a dude tells you, a woman, how to do something you already know how to do, or how you are wrong about something you are actually right about, or miscellaneous and inaccurate “facts” about something you know a hell of a lot more about than he does.
I hope to show with my chart how a conversation, particularly a conversation about sexism, can drift into mansplaining despite the best of intentions. I did do a search for such a chart first and didn’t find anything, so if you know of one better, please send me the link and I’ll include it here. Finally, if the term itself bothers you, get over it. It’s mostly men who do it, and yes, we know that all men don’t. If you don’t do it, it doesn’t apply to you. Just because you are a man and it includes the word “man” doesn’t qualify it as a gross, unfair, mean generalization any more than the term “chick flick” is understood to mean that all women like those kinds of movies–and besides, being called “chick” is way worse than being called “man.”
Clicking on the graphic will display it in a larger size. Enjoy!