In the times of emerging awareness, discussions of feminism and gender equality on the internet, you are bound to come across the term "mansplaining." From being just a word, it made to headlines when certain men went overboard with their way of explanations to women. But what exactly does this term mean? And while some of us are aware of it, is it also being misused? In this article, we try to give you a thorough breakdown of the term mansplaining, what it means, examples and how to spot the misuse of the word.
What is Mansplaining?
The word mansplaining is a combination of two words man and splaining (short for explaining). The Oxford Dictionary defines the verb mansplain as "explain (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronising." It essentially means a man who is trying to explain something to a woman with an assumption that she is stupid and he knows more about the topic. So mansplaining is a pejorative term.
So the problem is not with a man explaining things to a woman, but the way he puts across his point in a demeaning manner. Another important thing is if the woman in the first place even asked for an explanation. It becomes offending when a man interrupts a woman while she is already speaking and shuts her off midway. He wants to prove that he knows more and is right, even though the woman hasn't asked for the explanation. Netflix’s Dating Around: Viewers Left Fuming over ‘Racist’ White Dude Mansplaining Love to an Indian Woman.
Are You a Mansplainer? Go Figure!
I have had more than one male colleague sincerely ask whether a certain behavior is mansplaining. Since apparently this is hard to figure out, I made one of them a chart. pic.twitter.com/7DZ1RTrB3R
— Kim Goodwin (@kimgoodwin) July 19, 2018
Examples of Mansplaining
To explain you the term better, we give you some examples of mansplaining which you have may or may not encounter in your lives.
Often a man may claim that he knows girls/women better than they know themselves. Very often, if you have a friend or colleague giving you relationship advice, they put forth a point that they know all women. That is an example of mansplaining.
At work too, men often explain women some things from their own fields of expertise. So for example, if a woman is working as an engineer or a scientist, she could be mansplained at every step of how things work, when she herself is an expert in the matter. This again comes down to not many women venturing into these "male-dominated" fields.
A man telling you to eat chocolates, sweets or pick up some distraction hobby in order to feel less pain of menstrual cramps, is another example of mansplaining. Basically, it is when a man tries to teach you something that you already know, in a manner that is condescending. A man actually hasn't experienced period pain or knows how the cramps feel like, but they can still pass off their knowledge as if you are unaware. After all, a woman who deals with these cramps every month knows the exact way to deal with them. Guy Tries to Mansplains the Difference Between a Vagina and Vulva to a Female Gynaecologist, Gets Trolled on Twitter.
The most common example of mansplaining is men assuming women are bad drivers and lecturing them on driving skills at all times.
Coin Has Two Sides
All said and done, a woman cannot use mansplaining as an offence when she herself isn't factually correct. For example, if a man's explanation is right, backed by data, serves more knowledge than you already knew, then it cannot be a case of mansplaining. Women cannot defend their own statements if they are wrong, and in that case, term a man's correct statements as mansplaining.