am I a mansplainer?

This week on the Ask a Manager podcast, we talk about mansplaining!

“Mansplaining” = the weirdly frequent phenomenon where a man gives a woman an unrequested explanation of something that she has more expertise on than he does. It was coined in an essay by a woman who described how a man at a party kept condescendingly explaining her own book – that she had written – to her. (It later turned out he hadn’t even read it. He’d only read a review of it.) That’s mansplaining – the assumption that a woman will need something explained to her, no matter how much expertise she has on the topic.

After I asked for volunteers on Twitter, a man who worries that he might be a mansplainer was brave enough to come on the show and talk about it with me.

You can listen to our discussion on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Volumes, or Anchor (or here’s the direct RSS feed). Or you can listen above.

This episode is 17 minutes long, and here’s the letter:

Thanks for asking on Twitter for mansplainers or people that worry about mansplaining. Your tweet was like a red rag to a bull, because I especially love mansplaining about mansplaining. Preparing to talk to you was also a great opportunity to talk to male friends about mansplaining, which I hadn’t done before.

Actually to be honest, I might have my moments, but in general I’m not a mansplainer. But I definitely worry about it.

It’s especially complex because lot my work is around being a so-called expert, and I don’t know how to see the line between explaining and mansplaining. I’m a British guy working in developing countries, so I’m at risk of mansplaining not just across gender but also across class, country, and language barriers. 

And on top of this I like having an opinion about things I don’t necessarily know much about. Certain reactions really bring it out of me, too, – if someone says “I don’t know” / “I’m not sure X”, then I really like to jump in … I notice this dynamic happens even with super smart female friends who might express themselves cautiously.

I was really pleased (and totally surprised!) to hear that some of my male friends say they have stopped talking so much after hearing about the concept of mansplaining. But others were also asking about the differences between having a strong opinion, or explaining something, and mansplaining. 

While I see the gendered nature of mansplaining as very important, not all of my male friends agree with that, and they feel reluctant to see the world, or the effects of their interactions, in gendered terms. So they agree they might be overbearing or patronising but don’t necessarily see that that’s a problem.

I would really love to hear your advice on how to understand when or check if one is mansplaining, and how to do it less. And it would also be good to know how I could communicate the gendered part of that to friends who don’t see that.

And if you prefer, here’s the transcript.

{ 643 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A request for commenters to please be kind to this guest, who was both brave and generous in being willing to come on the show! And really, if you listen to the show, I think you’ll find him very thoughtful and open and interested in making sure he’s being respectful.

    He actually emailed me this morning and said, “I’ve been adjusting my behaviour already (yesterday I was in a hard conversation, asked if someone wanted to hear something, they said no, and I didn’t tell them).”

    1. Justme, The OG*

      That’s a wonderful update from the letter writer, that he is already starting to change his behavior now that he is cognizant of it.

    2. Erin*

      Yeah I was a little disappointed he wasn’t more jerk-like, haha. Definitely seems like a nice guy! It’s always admirable when people can take a step back and look thoughtfully at how they’re operating.

      1. Hornswoggler*

        To be fair, I don’t think mansplaining comes from being a jerk – I know lots of chaps who do it and they’re not jerks! I think it comes from the way attention is skewed towards the male from the day one of children’s lives, and they genuinely believe that they’re doing right to share their knowledge.

        I have one associate who is a mansplainer, but he has HUGE qualities and knowledge which make him a great person.

  2. Engineer Girl*

    Is your first assumption that the person is lacking in knowledge and needs correction? Or is your first assumption neutral that the person knows what they are doing?

    When you approach someone do you see why they are something before you make and assessment?

    Do you judge in areas outside your field of high expertise?

    Mansplainers default assumption is that the other person doesn’t know about the subject matter. And they will argue and argue with you instead of seeking information first.

    1. sunshyne84*

      Great questions!

      I also think it would help to just ask the person “Are you familiar with…?” “Have you tried…?” or “Do you know about….?” type questions first. That way you won’t be mansplaining things to people who already know what you are talking about. When you jump the gun is when it tends to become a problem.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I’m on the fence, because in my experience, when a man asks me, “Are you familiar with …?” or “Have you tried …?” or “Do you know about…?” it’s actually just an extension of mansplaining. They’re asking the questions because they think I’m incompetent, and then if I respond, they take it as an opening to mansplain.

        (I realize there are men that ask these questions in good faith, but at least in my experience, the balance is probably 80-90% that use these specific questions are patronizing.)

        1. PSB*

          Do you find it makes a difference whether they ask the question and stop for a response, or they ask the question and immediately launch into the explanation anyway?

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I find that the biggest difference is in tone. All of those questions can be great conversation openers if they’re asked guilelessly and with genuine interest and curiosity. But unfortunately, I’ve found that when men ask me those questions, they’re usually planning to immediate launch into an explanation. OR, equally often, they ignore my response and then launch into the explanation they’ve clearly been holding in their head instead of listening to my response.

            1. PSB*

              Thank you! That’s very helpful. I’m a career IT worker whose job revolves around working on project teams with a mix of technical and non-technical people. Explaining technical topics is a normal part of the job, so being conscious of how I approach those explanations and how to determine when they are and are not needed is crucial.

              1. Michaela Westen*

                If it helps, showing respect is important too. There’s an IT support person I no longer work with because he has consistently not taken my questions/concerns seriously or respected my experience. He apparently thinks I’m a dunce who doesn’t even know the basics of working on PCs, which I’ve done for more than 20 years. To some extent he treats everyone like this, but after the 3rd time he argued with me (for 45 minutes!) about whether the problem I was asking about was actually a problem, I refuse to let him waste any more of my time or stress.

            2. LouiseM*

              Totally agreed. It’s all about tone–I think the level of professional respect the would-be mansplainer has for you really comes through in the way they ask the question.

            3. Jadelyn*

              I think it also depends quite a bit on what the topic in question is and how “near” to you it is.

              Like, if someone from IT asked if I was familiar with how to read the headers on an email, that would be a legit question – I’m tech-savvy, but I’m in HR, and knowing stuff like email headers isn’t even remotely adjacent to my role. Or if someone in branch ops asked if I knew what “force-balancing” meant, same deal – I’m not ops, I have some understanding of it from dealing with employee issues, but I don’t know it the way someone on the ops side would.

              And to the first question I could say “Actually, yes, I am,” while to the second I’d probably say “Vaguely, but not in great detail.” And either way, I wouldn’t be offended.

              On the other hand, if someone asked me if I was familiar with and knew how to check the audit trail in our HRIS, that would be insulting no matter what tone it’s asked in, because that’s a fundamental skill in my role as our HRIS administrator. So for a man to ask if I’m familiar with that, regardless of how genuine the tone is, he’s already inherently implying that he thinks I’m ignorant about or less competent at the basics of my own damn job.

            4. Hey Nonnie*

              “…instead of listening to my response.”

              This is it exactly. Mansplaining comes from not listening. I have a hard time coming up with a scenario where mansplaining couldn’t be entirely avoided with active listening skills. Don’t plan what you’re going to say next while ignoring the person talking to you. Listen and take in what they’re saying, and respond to what they actually said, not what you expected them to say.

              What is your ultimate goal (or ulterior motive) for having the conversation? Do you want an exchange of ideas and are genuinely interested in what the other person has to say? Or do you just want an audience to ooh and ahh while you show off?

              He: Have you read Book Title?
              She: I wrote Book Title, actually. I did three years of research for it.
              Mansplainer: You should read it, it’s a really deep dive into the topic and you could learn a lot from it.
              Not-a-mansplainer: You wrote it? Wow, I’m impressed. Can you tell me more about your research?

              1. NYC Weez*

                Alternatively, someone asks about best practices with teapot manufacturing. Mansplainer with no teapot experience jumps in and says “I think you should do X!” I respond “As someone with extensive teapot manufacturing experience, I would suggest you do Y instead for (reasons).” Mansplainer jumps back on and says “Well, no you should really be taking into account (reasons)!” So they sound like they are disagreeing with me and setting the record straight but they are really just trying to take credit for the advice I *just* gave.

            5. Jules the 3rd*

              Often, when people ask questions, they are planning their responses in their heads instead of listening to the answer and adjusting their responses.

              I am guilty of this, and have to watch myself about it.

          2. Polaris*

            For me that would be the important difference, as well as the tone they take when asking. If it’s “Are you familiar with [x]?” with non-judgmental curiosity is one thing. “Are you familiar with [x], it’s [long-winded mansplainy explanation without waiting to see if you do in fact know about [x]” or “Are you familiar with [x]?” in a tone implying I obviously don’t, that puts my back up.

        2. Merida Ann*

          I think it’s the follow-up that’s important. If they ask and then actually listen to your answer, then that’s probably fine. But if, as seems to happen more often, they’re not really interested in the answer and they steamroll on with their explanation in spite of you saying yes, then that’s the issue.

          1. Guacamole Bob*

            I think someone who is trying to learn not to be a mansplainer would also do well to think about how men and women have been socialized to present themselves, and react accordingly. Like, if you ask a man and a woman how familiar they are with X, on average for the same level of expertise the woman will tell you a level of 3 on a 1-10 scale and a man will tell you a 6. This comes across in a variety of ways (I started this post with “I think”, which maybe a man wouldn’t have done?), and obviously varies by individual. But be attuned to the idea that women are more likely to downplay their own expertise, and look for conversational cues that the woman you’re talking to already knows about the subject.

            1. else*

              Or even – not so much downplay, but be very measured and try not to claim more skill than they are sure they have. Whereas, a man may seems more likely to try to up-sell his skills/knowledge even if he doesn’t overestimate them to himself. I think they are more likely to think it’s okay to do that and then learn on the job even if they aren’t actually over-confident about their skills in their own minds.

            2. TootsNYC*

              also note that women have been socially conditioned to be listeners in conversations. So if you start, they’ll politely look interested, even if you’re telling them something they already know; they may let you finish, where a guy might interrupt and say, “Yeah, I know those basics, I was asking about Intermediate/Advanced Aspect.”

              So her polite listening is not necessarily a cue that you are telling her something she doesn’t know, or that she needs to have explained. That’s a part of the Rebecca Solnit story in the essay “Men Explain Things To Me.”

            3. Richie*

              Just yesterday before a training started, the trainers asked who is a legal counsel in the audience. I have a bachelors degree in law and have never actually worked as a legal counsel so I didn’t say I was.
              The guy next to me had breezed through law school and never finished any law degree and never worked as one, he raised his. He was also hired into his job saying he had degree he hasn’t officially completed yet…

          2. sunshyne84*

            Right, he already seems open to listening so I wouldn’t expect him to go directly to mansplaining after asking the question.

        3. Engineer Girl*

          I totally agree with you. When someone says “are you familiar with” the assumption is that I’m not. And that assumes incompetence b

        4. Wendy Ann*

          Instead of “are you familiar with…” what about “how familiar are you with…”?

          This assumes you do know something about the subject matter and it’s open-ended which you can use to show what knowledge you have on the subject.

          1. myswtghst*

            Oh, I like this! Using the right tone can really help, but how you word the question is also important. Wording it this way assumes the person you’re asking has at least some familiarity, and also encourages more than a one-word answer from the person you ask, whereas “are you…?” is inherently a yes/no question.

          2. essEss*

            Strangely, I prefer the “are you familiar with” question. I can answer with a description of the pieces that I do know about. I am less comfortable with “how familiar are you with…” because that requires me to know all about the topic before I can say what percentage of the topic that my knowledge covers. I might know pieces, but I might not be aware that it is only a tiny portion of the topic so I’ll think I know a lot but really don’t. Or I might know pieces, and it turns out those are the primary part so I might say I’m not very familiar, but it turns out I’m very familiar. Either way I can’t answer accurately “how familiar?” but I can answer “are you familiar? by describing my actual knowledge.

          3. sunshyne84*

            Fair enough. I think it all depends on the context and who you are talking to as in a peer or someone who is not. If you are peers one may be better versus someone from IT trying to help me who only knows basic computer stuff for example. I think it all comes down to actually listening to their response and not assuming.

            1. kb*

              Yes! It definitely depends on context. My parents are both accountants and have a lot of accountant friends, so they often forget that most people do not know the specifics of accounting. It would make sense (and probably be better) for them to start asking non-accountants how familiar they are with accounting stuff before they launch into extremely nitty-gritty accounting stories. But it would be annoying if they did the same thing at, say, an accounting convention.

        5. RUKiddingMe*

          Exactly this. They ask those questions on the assumption that I (women in general) are too addle brained to have thought of options before they, the much smarter male comes along to point them out.

        6. MM*

          Yeah, “Have you tried…” especially gets my back up. YES I’ve tried it, because it’s the obvious thing that comes to mind when you give this a second of thought as you’ve just done, and I’ve actually thought about it for longer than that. (It’s certainly possible for it to be fine and helpful, but usually that happens after the person has listened to you at length, and you can tell by the tone already that it’s a real suggestion instead of a tossed-off “Well did you do the first obvious thing?”)

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            You have thoughts? But you’re female you should only have feelings. Thinking is for the men folk.

          2. Specialk9*

            This is a good rule to live by.

            Is it likely that my 0.3 seconds of thought produced something that this person’s months and years of thought and research didn’t?

            No, right? Ok, then shhhh.

            (Especially if you’re recommending yoga to chronically ill people.)

      2. cleo*

        I prefer “are you looking for suggestions / help problem solving?” before jumping into problem solving type questions.

        I’m a woman and a former (recovering) college instructor and I have a tendency to launch into problem solving when it’s not needed so I’ve learned to ask first.

      3. LBK*

        How do people feel about prefacing an explanation of something with “Stop me at any time if I’m explaining something you already know”? Part of my job does involve explaining a lot of complex concepts so across the board I usually start from as basic a level as I can get with the aforementioned caveat, regardless of the gender of my audience. However, I’m certainly cognizant of how the gender dynamic can play if I’m a man doing that to a woman, especially in a male-dominated industry where presumably a lot of women have to deal with being talked down to all the time.

        Does starting with a genuinely expressed “I don’t know how familiar you are with this so feel free to cut me off” help with this problem, or is that still bordering on condescending?

        1. pancakes*

          Doubtlessly it depends on the tone, nature of the material being explained, and the nature of the group, but it could could come across as an effort to outsource reading the room to the room itself, if that makes sense. Maybe a brief survey at the beginning would be better – something like, ‘show of hands, how many of you are familiar with xyz?’

        2. myswtghst*

          This is a tough one, because while some women will absolutely feel comfortable speaking up to say “yep, got it”, others won’t, so putting the impetus on them to curb your explanation may not do much. I think it can work better if you proactively stop yourself occasionally and check in, rather than expecting your audience to stop you when you’re on a roll.

        3. cleo*

          I think it’s more useful to ask what level of explanation they’re looking for, or to ask what they’ve already tried before you start into your explanation.

          And of course, to ask first IF they’re looking for an explanation. I think the problem with mansplaining (and all of the related condesplaining behavior) is that the explainer ASSUMES that the explainee needs to have something explained to them that they already know about and don’t need or want explained..

        4. Someone else*

          I’m a woman (whose job is often to explain technical things to non-technical people) and I use this approach all the time, so I’m down with that in general.

        5. Genny*

          If you’re going to do something like this, you have to make sure there are places where someone can actually jump in and stop you. If there’s no pause or white space, people may not feel comfortable literally talking over you.

    2. I See Real People*

      Agree with Engineer Girl. I have a family member who does this. He is an absolute wealth of great information, but also a firehose of it. He will sometimes argue or correct others input on the conversation. He’s working on it, but it has definitely diminished his social life in the past.

    3. dr_silverware*

      These are such great questions to ask. And an additional question would be whether they have similar expertise as you but with a different angle.

      And, simply, is it necessary to do any explanation at all?

      For instance, I recently parallel parked a little too fast because I thought a car was behind me waiting for me to finish; I had to repeat the parking job. The car behind me was in fact a neighbor who’d just finished his own parking job, and came over to advise me that I could tilt my mirror down to see the kerb as I was parking. Tbh I mention it only because my blood is still boiling >:o

    4. jotpe*

      I think for some people it can come from assumptions or bias, and for others it’s just being a boring conversationalist frankly! Some people seem to take a statement like “I actually used to do this type of work in my old job” or “This is the topic I wrote my masters thesis on” as meaning “I am receptive to what you’re saying!” rather than (how I tend to mean it) a signal that I don’t really need a lecture. Like something went amiss between “ah, a common interest!” and “I will now infodump everything I ever learned about this.” I had a guy tell me everything he knew about teapots after I told him I’d just come back from presenting a paper at a Teapot Manufacturers conference, and as frustrating (and bizarre) as it was, I think he was just failing at communication. Unlike the Wall Street guy who kept insisting that a particular teapot design was “hands down” the most popular even when I *kept telling* him that *my job* is to analyze teapot sales, and this was not true. That guy just had some kind of mental block that prevented him from accepting that his outsider view might maybe be wrong.

  3. KimberlyR*

    While mansplaining exists in all subjects, I think its especially important for men to be aware of it in STEM fields-there is a widespread belief that men are better in those areas, so many tend to feel more knowledgeable even though it may not be accurate. I honestly believed this for my entire childhood as well, because I was told this “fact” by my father. I knew I would always be better at history and english because I’m female, and my brother would always be better at math and science. I didn’t learn that this was bullshit until I was an adult.

    Rather than just jump into mansplaining, why not ask questions and have a dialogue? A conversation with give and take will naturally allow all participants, of all genders, to contribute their own knowledge and questions.

    1. Myrin*

      If you allow me my curiosity, were you and your brother good at and interested in the foretold subjects, later, or did one or both of you go completely against it?

      1. KimberlyR*

        I always excelled in English (not so much in History but I did well enough). I enjoyed some maths and sciences more than others, and I was good at the ones I enjoyed (I obviously enjoyed them because I was good at them!) but, because I internalized the message that I wasn’t as good at them, I struggled more with those subjects. I also scored slightly lower in those areas on standardized tests (31 and 35 in Language and Reading vs. 29 and 27 in Science and Math on the ACT), which reinforced those beliefs. My brother was a slacker at school and barely passed (on purpose-he was intelligent but refused to do the work) so I couldn’t tell you what he was better at.

        1. SC*

          Interestingly, I (a woman) had the same exact scores in all four portions of the ACT, and on both sections of the SAT. I was in Honors classes for both math/science and English. I received some poor scores on math tests and had some English papers covered in red ink, but ultimately ended up with about the same (good) grades. I even got the highest grade in one of my science classes. None of that mattered. I still managed to internalize the lesson that I wasn’t good at math and science. Somehow, any struggles with English seemed like a normal part of the process, and any struggles with math automatically meant I was bad at it. I think teachers and guidance counselors had the same attitude–that English and history could be taught, but students were naturally gifted at math and science (and mostly, the boys were gifted, and the girls were not). I don’t think I’m cut out to be a scientist or mathematician, but I could have creatively combined some fields of study to be really in demand and better paid in my current career.

          1. kb*

            I think thats a really common phenomenom. My uncle is an engineering professor and has had to tell multiple female students that they shouldn’t leave their major over a B in one class when most of the self-assured men who “just got it” in the class were actually C students. My sister spent an entire semester crying over calculus because she “just wasn’t a math person!” She got an A-.

            1. Katastrophreak*

              How many of us are there in this same situation? I actually quit calculus in high school because I was convinced I wasn’t a math person.

          2. Tau*

            I managed to avoid most of the “girls aren’t good at maths/science” stuff by being from an academic STEM background, which meant those messages got trumped by “but half your extended and all your immediate family is some form of STEM-based professional with an advanced degree so there is no question that you and your brother are going to be excellent at maths and science”. I say “most” but weirdly enough, I still somehow internalised the message that girls can’t do computer science. I’m a software developer now but it took something of a twisty road to get there, and I never even considered doing computer science at university even though it probably would have been the best option for me. I had some vague feeling that the only people who could do that were boys who took apart computers and wrote programs in their spare time. My mother is an IT professional. I still don’t know what happened there.

          3. MM*

            This is absolutely gendered, but there’s also a weird thing where math and science are seen as some sort of inherent talent that some people have and others don’t. The abysmal state of STEM (and especially math) education probably has something to do with it. If math was explained to high school students as a language, which it is, then I think a lot of “words people” might do a lot better.

          4. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            Right? I struggled with math and was told it was okay because I was expected to struggle, since I lacked external genitalia. However, interestingly enough, I didn’t struggle because I was female; I struggled (and still struggle) because I have dyscalculia and some processing issues. I can do math, I just can’t do it the way it is taught in schools.

      2. Julia*

        Not the person you were asking, but in my family, my brother is definitely a STEM person (like, he won the Matheolympiade etc.) and I’m a language person (fluent in Japanese). I’m not sure if my parents and teachers encouraging me to try harder in STEM subjects would have done a lot for me, but since there is no clone Julia to check this with, I can’t say.

        I definitely do think that the way we were raised ended up with my brother lacking empathy and consideration for others, including me, whereas I was usually told to not be “mean” when I stood up to myself, and “too sensitive” when I complained about injustices – even though everyone basically mills my soft heart. THAT is definitely gendered and may even factor into subjects one excels at.

    2. slipjack*

      A “yes, and” addition: it’s super important for men (and/or white people) to be aware of this in all areas that people believe are objective, since objective tends to be code for “white male understanding of how the world should work”. Development communities are horrible about this, because the dominant understanding of “development” is a European/N. American, white country.

      1. LouiseM*

        YES YES YES thanks so much for mentioning this. The word “objective” so often makes my skin crawl.

    3. Tuxedo Cat*

      Emphasizing the genuine dialogue. I’ve had instance where people have asked me questions so that they could find a deficit in my knowledge and then they would be condescending.

      1. Temperance*

        I’ve encountered this in nerd culture very often. “Oh you like Suicide Squad? Well have you read the originals??”

        1. Ex-Humanities student*

          Yes, the idea that you have to reveal the “Fake Geek Girl” who is obviously only here for a Hemsowrth brother’s abs or to get a boyfriend or to seem interesting…

          1. Temperance*

            Have you noticed that these gatekeeping tools also have barely surface level knowledge?

            1. Merida Ann*

              I was really baffled at a convention this past weekend when two separate guys complimented my Batgirl cosplay, but then immediately joked by calling me by the wrong name. As in, Guy: “Hey, great cosplay!” Me: “Thanks!” Guy: “Yeah, Wonder Woman’s great!” (The other one did basically the same but called me “Martha” instead of “Barbara” for her non-hero name.) He obviously actually knew I wasn’t Wonder Woman, and he immediately started laughing about it, but I don’t have any idea what the joke was in that.

              1. Who the eff is Hank?*

                I’ve experienced stuff like this, too. Unfortunately, I think the “joke” of it is that they get to laugh at your expense, even if the “joke” only makes sense in their own heads. They feel like they’ve made fun of you (even if you don’t understand how/why) and then they get satisfaction from that.

                I came to this conclusion after a guy in one of my college classes made a ‘thing’ of coming up to me and telling me to shave my legs after class. He’d do this week after week, in the middle of winter, when I was wearing jeans. I don’t think he ever saw my bare legs.

              2. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)*

                The first ( and sadly last) time I did cosplay everyone kept calling me Harley, because it was “clear” and “obvious” I was jumping on the Suicide Squad bandwagon. I was Osgood. Most people apologized when I told them, but there were a couple of guys that kept accusing me of being a fake fan, so they were both gatekeepers and ignorant.

              3. Specialk9*

                “Ha ha you’re a girl!”

                Can you imagine if a swift groin punch of punishment were actually ok to do? This shit would stop in a hurry.

            2. One of the Sarahs*

              Yeah, and anything they don’t know about doesn’t count. A dear friend used to make jokes about my lack of pop culture knowledge, because I hadn’t seen the same big blockbuster films he had seen – but he was discounting all the TV/films/comics I knew about and he didn’t. To give him credit, once I pointed this out, he stopped…

            3. Blue Anne*

              Yeah. Captain Marvel is my fandom. With the movie coming up, there are SO MANY dudes out there trying to explain to me that Carol Danvers isn’t Captain Marvel, she’s Ms Marvel.

          2. KimberlyR*

            Ugh. My SIL worked at Gamestop while in college and it is astounding how many guys assumed she didn’t know anything about video games. She works at a freaking game store!

            1. sam*

              Ugh. Cue my every experience ever trying to buy anything (yes, including just a damn coaxial cable) at a Radio Shack back in the day.

              Yes, when I hand you the product and my credit card, I have already figured out what I need, teenage boy who looks at said product, then back at the woman handing him said things, and says “are you sure this is what you wanted to buy?” If I needed help, I would have accosted one of your salespeople who studiously ignored me the the entire time I was actually shopping in your store.

              1. Spritely*

                Ugh, the first time I visited my local hardware store, I asked if they had needle nosed pliers and the guy got this very amused look on his face like, “Oh, she knows there are different kinds of pliers!” Bruh, my dad was a construction worker for 30 years. I did pick some things up.

                He got over it and is now very helpful because I’ve made it apparent that I do my research and know what I’m talking about.

                1. Blue Anne*

                  Oh yeah. I remember asking if there was a certain width of copper tubing available at Home Depot, and the dude kind of scowling and saying “For an art project?”

                  The boys at wargaming stores are by far the worst I’ve encountered, though. The first time I went into one, the whole place went quiet. (A dozen teenage boys who were playing at that moment and the older teenager boy staffer… dead silence.) And then later, it was always “Oh cool, are you getting this for your boyfriend or your son? I wish my mom got me presents like this! You know, this unit really benefits from backup from these ones, if you’re looking for stocking stuffers for him…”

                2. Julia*

                  And what if you hadn’t know that? Isn’t is his job to get you what you need?

                  Imagine a guy trying to buy clothes and getting laughed out the store because he doesn’t know the difference between slim fit and flared jeans??

                3. TootsNYC*

                  And that’s why I love Gleason’s Paint in Queens, NYC. They ask very evenly what your expertise level is, and when they say, “Do you know what a trowel is?” it sounds as though they think you might say yes.

                  And they explain clearly and evenly and encouragingly. It’s amazing, actually. And it has happened with every person in the store.

                4. Kelsi*

                  This is why I’m still jumpy about going to hardware stores.

                  When I lived in Indiana, the closest one was a big superstore (Lowe’s maybe? or Home Depot, don’t remember). Inevitably, when I went in alone, I got asked in EVERY SINGLE AISLE I PASSED whether I needed help (along with plenty of condescending “sweetheart”/”darling”/etc.)

                  When I complained to friends, everyone said “Oh they have to do that! They’re required to ask everyone!”

                  Sure. And yet, every time I went in with my dad, not a single employee spoke to us until we were ready to check out.

              2. Jadelyn*

                That’s when you give them the Ron Swanson response: a flat look and “I know more than you.”

                The worst for me is always when I have some knowledge of a topic, but need help on the particular details of something. If I don’t ask for help, I’m stuck struggling on my own, but if I ask for help, the guy will inevitably assume that means he has to start from square one and teach me everything from start to finish. I’ve gotten this one a lot with IT guys – yes, I’ve already cleared my browser cache, yes, I’ve already tried two other browsers and got the same error, yes, I’ve tried searching for the site and finding the page that way instead of clicking the link in the email, it’s still not working, can we skip the preliminary BS please? Or, yes I already rebooted – twice – including a forced shutdown, and I checked in task manager to see if it’s already running in the background and that’s why it won’t open. Please do not tell me to try restarting my computer.

                1. SC*

                  I try to give the IT folks the benefit of the doubt. I used to eat lunch with my old company’s help desk staff, and the stories they told were just horrendous. They treat everyone like idiots because 99% of the people they deal with are idiots.

                2. Jules the 3rd*

                  ok, yes I know this is frustrating, but as former tech support: we always ask people to reboot. Always. It is not gender specific.

                  Mr Jules has been on tech support calls with our ISP where they went through the same thing. Mr Jules has written firewalls – he knows internet protocols and etc backwards and forwards. He just started asking for ‘second level support techs’, and that has been helpful.

                  I think that if someone asked for a ‘second level tech’ or the like, we used to assume they actually had a clue and a real problem and passed them to certain people who could actually troubleshoot instead of just Read The Fine Manual. 90% or more of our calls were solved by Reading The Fine Manual, though.

                3. Specialk9*

                  What SC said. I used to get so mad – yes I tried restarting, I just told you all the advanced steps I tried! And then a friend told the story of how an exec called with a frozen screen (“nothing works! Yeah I rebooted.”). He arrived, looked at the monitor, pulled off the screen cling, and plugged it in. This guy had pulled a computer monitor out of the box, not plugged it in or connected to a computer, not hit the power button, and assumed the screen cling was real.

                  The level of ID10T error is high.

              3. many bells down*

                I had to buy a new fan for my desktop once. So I popped the fan out of the tower, measured it, and then put it in my purse just in case and took myself to Best Buy. Told the guy in computers that I needed a fan that was AxB size, and he immediately pulled a much larger fan off the rack. The measurements were written on it. I said no, that’s too big, I need AxB.

                “They don’t come in that size. This is what you want.”

                I pulled the actual fan out of my purse and held it up to the fan he was holding, consideringly.
                “Yeah I think I’ll go to Fry’s.”

        2. Tuxedo Cat*

          Definitely there. Or in sports or in some genres of music.

          It definitely happens professionally, too.

          1. Temperance*

            I’m a huge MLS fan, and one of Booth’s favorite things to do is to tell people that I am on the board of a soccer club, because far too many people assume that he’s the real fan.

            1. Juli G.*

              Dudes think “You actually know football!” is a huge compliment. It’s not.

              (For me, football is NFL but your post still resonates.)

              1. LadyKelvin*

                This is my marriage. I’m a steeler’s fan and have grown up watching them with my dad. Everyone assumes that my husband is the “real” fan and will start grilling me on past players, etc. My favorite is when they ask about obscure players from the 80s (i.e. before I was alive/old enough to know anything) and I’m like yeah, I actually know them. My next door neighbor is a former steelers/browns player. My poor husband only cheers for the steelers because I do, he could care less about football since he didn’t grown up in the states.

                1. Camellia*

                  This! My daughter has won the football pool run by her husband and his family and friends every year for the past 6 years. You’d think they would have learned by now…

                2. Samata*

                  Fellow Steelers fan here! Same things happens with us. Partner is always like “dude, ask her, not me.” when it comes to NFL. He’s the college buff, I defer to him for that knowledge. To me its no different than he (an accountant) to be better at math and me (a trainer) to know how to create class contest. It’s what we are interested/do daily so of course that’s the knowledge it brings. How this is not common sense to more people baffles me.

                3. myswtghst*

                  My husband has close to 0 interest in sports, but because he is a big burly dude, strangers often try to initiate conversations with him about football / basketball. And while I appreciate his willingness to redirect them to me (the person who is fully obsessed with NCAA football / basketball and generally follows the NBA and NFL), it’s always interesting to see how his bar for entry (being a big burly dude) is so much lower than my bar for entry (answering ridiculously specific questions about players / coaches / etc…).

                  This also used to happen at work, and while I appreciated my coworker who was genuinely enthusiastic about bringing me into sports conversations, it was also kind of awkward because I felt almost like a novelty to be shown off – like, look at this girl who knows about sports, isn’t that neat?! Even from good dudes with good intentions, it can still come across as weirdly gatekeeper-y.

              2. RUKiddingMe*

                Right? My husband is from Elsewhere where football is soccer. I taught him the rules of NFL football. To be fair he is so sports adept he didn’t need me, it just helped him to learn faster than he would have naturally, but his friends are quite astounded when I make comments, call a play, or gods forbid express emotion (eg. “run goddammit…come ON!” etc).

                1. ML*

                  Oh dear heaven yes on the expressing emotions towards sports. I was in my University’s band section, and heaven forbid a female complain about the refereeing in a voice loud enough to be heard. You’d totally get excuses arguing for the referee and how we shouldn’t expect them to be perfect from the same guys who’d been cursing them out a few minutes ago, but missed the thing you were complaining about. So very irritating, I totally wanted to club them with my cornet.

                2. Camellia*

                  On a side note, I never enjoyed watching football, could never figure out what was going on, etc.
                  Then this year my husband recorded the Super Bowl and he wanted to show me a particular play. When he was fast-forwarding it, all of a sudden I could see the plays and the patterns of movements and it suddenly made sense! I went back and watch the game in FF and it was really fun!

                  Our best guess is that because I read and process information at such a fast speed, football in real time is literally too slow for me to comprehend. I don’t know if that is the right answer or not, I just know that watching it in FF and it finally made sense.

            2. a sweaty bird*

              I’m a professional mascot and my fiancé sometimes acts as my handler at events (I work for two teams — hockey and baseball; the baseball team is newish and has a very small office staff so they’re happy to have a willing volunteer to take the handler job). The number of times we show up to events and they assume he’s the mascot is … all of them, basically. Even though I’m the one carrying the giant bag. It’s always amusing to watch the moment of realization cross peoples’ faces. (This is especially true of hockey.)

          2. Lars*

            My degree involved the heavy studynof music, and it’s insane the people who try to mansplain music to me. Like the former radio DJ who works in my building and knows far more about rap than I ever will? Never mainsplains. The idiot who goes to my comic book store who thinks I just like the art on my Gorillaz shirt? Total mansplainer.

            I think actual prowess has a lot to do with mansplaining – I seem to only get mansplained to by people who don’t have technical knowledge of a subject. Maybe just me.

        3. paul*

          That’s the sort of stuff that drives me nuts.

          No, I haven’t read comics consistently. Ever. Yes, I’m still a fan of Marvel movies.

          No, I can’t name the Texans backup ILB from 3 years ago. Yes, I’m still a fan (although team ownership is changing that).

          1. Oxford Coma*

            Whenever I’ve come up against this gate-keeping behavior in hobbies/recreational activities, I’ve approached it from a know/do perspective. As in, “It’s great that you’re able to memorize a bunch of facts. Do you actually know how to [do thing related to the concept]?”

            Being able to dump more trivia into your brain only proves that you have more spare time. If I have to hear a monologue about how much better you are at fandom, I’d prefer to at least guide the conversation in a direction that addresses a learned skill.

          2. many bells down*

            I went to a con once dressed as a Marvel character and a guy said “Oh, Nurse Strange!”

            I was dressed as Doctor Strange. And I’m a woman. Therefore …

            1. NutellaNutterson*

              That *could* be a fun mashup to do intentionally. Having someone make the comment at you, though… ugh. :(

        4. tink*

          Like new fans don’t have to start SOMEWHERE. Ugh, I hate gatekeeping in fandom/sports/hobbies.

          1. Tuxedo Cat*

            It would just be bad for the franchise. If everyone were required to have an extremely base knowledge to be a participant in an activity, most things wouldn’t exist because so few would be able to participate.

            1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

              I got this when I was out wearing a wrestling T-shirt. It wasn’t a ‘mainstream’ shirt, and it wasn’t for a big-name star, so clearly, I wasn’t just in it to drool over John Cena. But I still had someone try to “catch” me by mentioning a recent signee, but using his name from another promotion.

              He almost looked disappointed when I agreed that OldName was better, but I enjoyed the promo about why NewName had been chosen.

        5. Agent Veronica*

          I think some geek dudes who are on the awkward/less socialized side prefer to explain their awkwardness, especially with women, as being solely due to their hobby, which they insist is a guys-only thing. The presence of literally thousands upon thousands of women in fandom therefore has to be explained somehow, and I think a common explanation they come up with is, “women aren’t REALLY fans. Just fake fans.”

          That said, I’ve been lucky to know tons and tons of geeky guys who were genuinely welcome and open. I think they’re the large majority. That minority is just really, really vocal.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Yep. I interact with a LOT of geeky people as a LARP moderator, and easily the vast majority of them are well-meaning but (legitimately) awkward. The problem is the few and terribly rank — much like the ones who don’t bother to shower through the whole event and inflict their unwashed funk on the rest of us.

          2. Lehigh*

            This is so odd to me. Like, the argument is, “Only guys like X, which is why I can’t get a girlfriend. All the girls who pretend to like X are only trying to find a boyfriend.” …so why not you, my dude?

            I’ve had almost all good experiences with geek guys. I don’t go to cons and so forth, though, so I don’t get as much exposure to a random sampling.

          3. Starbuck*

            Couple that with some heavy stigmatization of the ways that women tend to participate in fandom, like making creative fanworks (fanart, fanfic, vidding, etc) that they also try to use to exclude you from your favorite hobby or from meeting the arbitrary (and pointless) standard of a “real fan” who is worthy of respect.

      2. Purple Puma*

        Yeah, I’ve had that happen too. One time it was while I was at a function as part of my job (I’m a wildlife educator re: birds and especially raptors), and as I was setting up my booth an older man came up to me wanting to talk. This guy was a falconer and he wanted to show me pictures of all of his hawks and explain to me what species they were, what they eat, etc. as if I, a wildlife educator (and a young, 20-something woman), knew absolutely nothing. If I didn’t continually keep up or didn’t know the answer to a question, he just looked smug.

        Because I was there as part of my job and there were other people around, I did my best to be polite, but this jerk would not leave me alone and kept pelting me with “gotcha” questions while I was trying to engage with other members of the public, including children. Finally, at some point he mentioned that the founder of my organization wasn’t a fan of falconry, and I turned to him and said, “Yes, Founder and my organziation does not approve of your hobby, and I have to say, I don’t approve either.” That wiped the smug smirk off his face, and he finally left me alone to do my actual job, which was talking to people who weren’t him.

        tl;dr Trying to prove you’re smarter than the person in front of you because you have nothing better to do doesn’t make you smart; it makes you a jerk.

        1. BusyBee*

          Yo, apologies for derailing, but you have the coolest job!! We went to an educational event about raptors hosted at a local park a few years ago and it was amazing. The educators were so awesome and knowledgeable and I got to see an owl’s ears!!! So thank you for the work you do, it’s important and incredible.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Same, unfortunately. There’s a lot of one-upping and trying to “expose” the other person that’s weirdly antagonistic and condescending. The same questions could be awesome if it were a true dialogue, but they can be very cutting and harsh when they’re designed to put the other person “in their place.”

        1. boo bot*

          Third! I often get a series of questions that are increasingly obviously probing for the loophole I’ve wriggled into my job through.

          “Oh, you kidnap dogs? Like, your own dogs, for fun? … No? Oh, so you must borrow your friends’ dogs? … No? You must be a dog *walker*, I see… No? Well have you ever kidnapped someone else’s dog?… Well have you kidnapped someone else’s dog AND they didn’t ask you to? AND you got paid a ransom? In actual MONEY? Are you absolutely sure?”

          What I do isn’t even impressive, they’re just really sure I can’t be doing it.

          *Disclaimer: I am not actually a dognapper. I do not have your dog, and if you want him or her back, you should not leave $10,000 in unmarked tens and twenties in Greenwood Cemetery, behind the headstone of “Boss” Tweed, the Tiger of Tammany Hall.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Did you kidnap the one with the ear problem, or the other one? Cause that influences how much money I’m willing to not leave in the cemetery.

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  All of this is making me think you’re really not a dognapper. Are you sure you didn’t just borrow her?

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              Definitely. And OG a disabled woman, a woman of color, or…a disabled woman of color? May as well not even exist.

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          I’m trying to guide my on-the-spectrum child through social status, and why 2nd graders have boyfriend / girlfriends, and tribes, and the like.

          My working theory is that this is all negative status seeking behavior from people who choose not to do it physically (as in fights, physical bullying, pranks) or emotionally (emotional bullying, and whatever you call the snubs and alliances girls perform). I call it the intellectual path.

          We’re working on positive ways to gain and maintain social status (alliances, kindness, favors without losing boundaries, cool achievements, paying attention / listening) but the negative ways are pretty entrenched.

    4. RUKiddingMe*

      Not just STEM. I am an anthropologist which is classified as social science but is really depending on one’s area possibly a hard science as well. I can’t even count the number of times that men, who may have taken one single biology class have decided to teach me about how natural selection works. I have a freaking doctorate dude…, yes I do know who Darwin was, where the Galapagos are, what finches are (seriously this is the only thing they ever learned about natural selection) and I understand gene flow. Go away now.

      1. Julia*

        I mean, I’m in linguistics, and a guy in my class still tries to explain the English language to me, because he has decided that he passes as a native speaker (TM) and expert and I don’t. Never mind we both started learning English around age 7.

        And don’t get me started on the guy who tried to copy my research and tells everyone he’s not actually a grad student, he WORKS and goes to grad school, unlike everyone else – because we’re all secret Rockefeller heirs, I guess.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Ugh linguistics is my least favorite part of the whole anthropology thing. Nevertheless I had to take the courses (undergrad and grad both) and even though it generally bores me to tears, I surprise myself with the amount of knowledge I’ve retained.

          I was explaining not too long ago about how children learn language, blah, blah, blah, and how as we age new language acquisition it gets more difficult for the average person. Even with immersion learning (eg. me living in other countries for extended [years] periods of time and apparently I will never be able to speak anything other than very basic Arabic) it can be hard-to-impossible for some people.

          I was trying to elicit a modicum of empathy for some elderly people who have found it pretty much impossible to learn English at like age 80-ish. Nope, no dice. I understand nothing about language at all apparently.

          This from some guy (yes a male person…) with like a 10th grade education and zero linguistics classes. He said, “old people are just stubborn and refuse to try” and then schooled me about how easy it was to learn if they just wanted to and he had no interest in any actual scientific theories. You know, “theories” which are all just wild assed notions and not something exposed to testing and a requirement for empirical evidence or anything. (insert eye roll emoji)

    5. T3k*

      See, this makes me glad my dad never did this. Well, actually the opposite: I was expected to excel in every subject, which I did, but math was my best subject to the point my teachers actually had a meeting with my mom about my extremely high score on the finals. Incidentally though, I didn’t go into any math related fields as I found art and video games more interesting.

  4. Kittymommy*

    I haven’t listened to the podcast yet (don’t have headphones available right now), but I will soon. Let me say though, I think it’s great that the guest speaker is open enough to look at his behavior, seek feedback and change if necessary. Good for him, not many are open to self-examination at that level.

    1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      I can’t listen, yet, because I’m at work. But I had the exact same thoughts. Good for him for 1) looking at his behavior 2) wanting to help his friends look at their behaviors and 3) doing so publicly. I’m not sure I’d have the guts for it.

  5. AnotherJill*

    Mansplainers (and Womansplainers, in fairness) tend to speak more than listen. The value of your contributions to a conversation isn’t in being the smartest person in the room, it’s in listening and respecting everyone in the conversation.

    1. mf*

      This. When in doubt, it’s always better to take a step back and try to listen. Or if you must say something, try asking questions that invite the other person to share their opinon: “My understanding is that the answer is x. What are your thoughts on that?”

      1. AnotherJill*

        I’ve worked with or known women who share the same traits and habits that most people would describe as mansplaining. It’s less common for women, but these are not male-only habits.

        1. Temperance*

          Jerks and boors come in all flavors, but the gender dynamic is what makes mansplaining so obnoxious, though. It’s the idea that women are naturally less competent or intelligent about any given subject. (My favorite all-time example of this is the man who tried to correct a woman at a conference regarding a paper she had written, and he hadn’t actually bothered to read.)

        2. Aveline*

          That’s not woman-splaining. It’s vsjng a know if all. Man-splaining is rooted in our patriarchal culture.

          Women cannot womansplain like black people aren’t racist in the USA.

          The whole point isn’t the behavior, but how it is rooted in and reinforced by the power structure in the culture.

          Woman splaining can only exist in matriarchy. We are not a matriarchal culture.

          1. Nope nope nope*

            Huh. When I took my former company to court because I was denied a promotion and eventually fired by my black boss because I was white, and I won my case because I had email proof, the court referenced how I was a victim of racism several times. I guess I should go tell the judge and court how wrong they were. This was in America btw.

            1. uh no*

              American courts are not always right, especially about social issues. What you’re describing is discrimination based on your race, which is not racism. Racism is an institutional and widespread system of oppression. It sounds like the court misused the term “racism” in your proceedings.

              1. Indoor Cat*

                Discrimination based on race is racism, just like discrimination based on sex is sexism. A woman can even internalize sexism and be sexist against women. It’s a serious problem; in the women’s suffragist era, the largest anti – suffrage group was female headed and largely women. Similarly, a group of women in India promoting free female hygiene products for women and girls to go to school while menstrating is currently being protested by a different group of women who think attending school or work while menstrating is shameful. This happens in every culture, with every issue of women’s advancement, and it is sexism. The issue should not be tiptoed around in some misguided effort to promote women’s solidarity. That comes at the expense of women’s advancement, and that is too steep a price to pay. That is why trying to take the word sexism out of these events and histories is harmful.

                There are multiple definitions of the word sexism, none of which are incorrect, just like there are multiple meanings of plenty of apolitical words, like “cleave” or “flush.” The legal definition and the colloquial definition of sexism, racism, ablism and so forth, includes any discrimination based on those features from any person, including a person who has the same identity as the discriminated person.

                There is an academic definition of sexism, in Women’s Studies scholarship, for example, that emphasizes a power dynamic in which men are granted superior status. By that definition, women cannot be sexist.

                But it was never the intention of early feminist scholars to *remove* previous definitions of the word sexism. Indeed, describing prejudiced actions based on sex, to men, women, or gender fluid people, enacted by any individual or group, is a vital part of feminist study. Keeping the legal and common definitions of sexism in order to talk about sexist discrimination by women is an important tool; otherwise, conversations become muddled and descend into arguments about definitions rather than the issues at hand.

                In this case, the issue at hand is assuming someone lacks knowledge or doesn’t warrant the respect of good listening due to their gender. Generally, its men who assume this about women: ergo, mansplaining. However, in some contexts (parenting, sometimes; certain anatomy and medical subjects; certain music genre fandoms) some women make these assumptions about men. And women sometimes make these assumptions about other women, especially if she has internalized Only Girl syndrome– ie, that the other woman on the team is automatically a threat and a competitor. This, too, is sexist, altho woman-splaining doesn’t have a ring to it. The sexism should be addressed, though, just like the behavior; trying to parse the behavior from the sexism by calling something else won’t solve the problem in the long run.

                1. Starbuck*

                  You make great points about internalized misogyny, but your comparison is off. Your examples are all about men (and women) discriminating against women. In both cases, the group with little institutional power is the one being discriminated against. The analogous situation to what the commentor above is describing would be men discriminating against other men, or a women discriminating against men, not what you’re outlining, and MUCH harder to find examples of.

          2. Nita*

            Black people cannot be racist? I’ve definitely run into racist black people. And racist everything else people. Sadly, my own family of origin (which is of a different minority) is pretty disgustingly racist.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              You’ve run into black people with a prejudice against others, but not racist black people.

              Growing up, I would have agreed with you because I did not realize that people who talked about racism were using two different definitions. The white community I grew up in used the term to refer to prejudice based on race. But when people in the communities who face systemic oppression based on race use the term to mean the institutional, systemic oppression and discrimination based on race. Black Americans do not and have not had the ability to institute that kind of discrimination against other racial or ethnic groups.

              Because the people and communities historically and presently systemically discriminated against and oppressed use the term “racism” in that way, I use it that way to. White Americans can experience examples of prejudice based on race, they do not experience racism in this country.

              1. N.J.*

                I’m black and I don’t use it that way. I understand that this will ultimately be a losing battle in the discussion of prejudice and -isms, but I’d like to caution folks who act like individual based -isms don’t exist. For me, the terminology definitions and focuses are between racism and institutional racism. I don’t think any of the commenters including individual level racism in their definition of racism are invalidating institutional racism or that they are denying institutional racism is therefore much more harmful because of the systemic nature and its aim towards the groups that aren’t in power. I personally think the discussion of institutional -isms is MUCH more important. But it irks me to no end that we spend more time parsing terminology than focusing on the impacts of these different types of racism. If you ask me, racism is a type of prejudice, just like religious intolerance and anti-gay attitudes are types of prejudice. Society is rightly nowadays placing emphasis and importance on institutional racism, as it is a much more important issue. I’m not suggesting we coddle every white person who feels they have been a victim of racism, for example, but invalidating the effect of individual racism just because the person who exhibits that type of prejudice may be a member of a group that is much more impacted by institutional racism and the racism of the group in power is also a surefire way to harm building relationships with allies. If racism is a type of prejudice then prejudice based on race is the same thing, just parsed differently. Anecdotally, I’ve known plenty of minorities, including those who are members of the same minority groups that I am, who are are sexist, racist etc. both to groups less advantaged than they are (the institutional Part of the definition) and to those with a more privileged position than them (the individual -ism part of the definition). If someone punches me in the face, it’s still a dick move and it still caused me harm, even if under one scenario they punched me because they are in a societal position of power over me and therefore more dangerous (as I have less protection from them) or if under another scenario they puched me and I’m in a position of power over them. The reason I get the black eye is different and tied to different outcomes and issues, but I still get a black eye…

                1. Phoenix Programmer*

                  Yes this is exactly how I feel too. Don’t alienate allies by discounting their experiences. But do don’t let the one example of the white guy who was harmed by a black women get in the way of talking about our systemic racial and sex inequities and issues in America.

                  Then again I guess there is a growing “we don’t need allies movement in many progressive circles” too which fundamentally disagree with.

                2. Samata*

                  But it irks me to no end that we spend more time parsing terminology than focusing on the impacts of these different types of racism.

                  SO MUCH THIS!

            2. Anonchivist*

              Aveline is speaking in terms of critical theory (which is concerned with power, not dictionary or level definition), friends.

          3. Phoenix Programmer*

            Yes blacks can be racist in America. Women can be sexist in America. Trying to redefinie the isms to only be sytemic isms gets us nowhere fast on enacting social change.

            And no one on one racism is not “prejudice” for one race and “racism” for another race.

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              Why? Social change is usually a matter of social trends and systemic patterns rather than one-on-one interactions.

          4. essEss*

            Woman-splaining happens in areas where women assume men are too stupid/ignorant/inexperienced to know the topic. I’ve seen it many times in person (as a woman) watching other women doing this to men. Try going to a sewing store and have a man walking around buying his supplies. Or a knitting group. Or a group of mom’s at the playground talking to a father who is also the primary child-care provider in his family. They all assume that they need to ‘teach’ the man the right way to do things no matter how much he protests that he has as much experience/knowledge as them.

        3. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

          The biggest ” ‘splainer” in my office is a woman. She makes me want to bump my head against the desk in frustration when she starts to speak.

        4. seejay*

          It is not a thing, the same way that reverse racism isn’t a thing.

          Mansplaining is a social construct, held by those in power. Woman do not hold societal power. Women “talking down to someone” is just talking down to someone. It cannot be labeled as “womensplaining”.

          1. Yea..right*

            So, it’s a gendered portmanteau used to show that men are in fact different than women.

            1. Close Bracket*

              No, it is a gendered portmanteau that highlights the ways that men systematically discount women’s knowledge and intellect *without first even bothering to find out what she knows.* You are deliberately confusing nature with behavior.

            2. NaoNao*

              It’s a gendered portmanteau to described a particular phenomenon, not to “show that men are in fact different from women.”

              For the millionth time in my life, feminists are not arguing that biological or other differences don’t exist. They are saying that harping on or focusing on those differences and implying or believing or making laws that indicate that the “woman” side of the differences are inferior or less desirable is hurtful to *both men and women*.

              i.e: women’s brains may be “wired” to feel emotions more deeply and in more circumstances (likely to make them more adept caretakers). That’s a neutral fact.

              When men deride other men for being weak babies or “sissies” for crying, or expressing love, that’s sexism based on biological differences.

              That’s why women bristle at constant remarks about how “different” men and woman are.

              1. NW Mossy*

                I personally tend to bristle at the silently implied mic drop after that statement, as if a descriptive statement of existence somehow means that there’s no possibility that the outcomes could still be sucky and something we’re working together to make better.

                1. NaoNao*

                  Yes thank you!! it’s like “men and women are different [and there’s nothing wrong in any expression or or laws, customs, culture, or situations that result from this difference] so just STFU and go away]”

              2. Yea..right*

                So if I said that a woman was being ‘shemotional’ because she’s having deeper emotions, that would be perfectly acceptable because it’s a neutral fact?

                1. Detective Amy Santiago*

                  You would be implying that a woman was being emotional because of being a woman so, no, that is not a neutral fact.

                2. LouiseM*

                  What is a neutral fact?

                  For the record, discussing mansplaining and calling it that is also not discussing a “neutral” “fact.” It’s describing a phenomenon that has political, social, etc. implications. Not neutral.

                3. Yea..right*

                  Nao said it was a neutral fact that women may feel emotions more deeply and make better caregivers as a result. That’s it.

                4. Temperance*

                  No, and I disagree with NaoNao’s point that women are more “emotional” and hence better caregivers, too.

              3. Someone*

                There’s a few “neutral facts” and they still bother me the way they are talked about, because in every case except for reproduction, those factual differences a) have a small effect size and b) are differences in group averages that are really small compared to the individual differences.

                Besides, humans are extremely social animals who are basically genetically designed to pick up social cues from very early on – the only way to measure gender differences entirely objectively, minus any conditioning, would be an unethical experiment where infants grow up isolated from anyone but trained scientists.

          2. AnotherJill*

            Power is relative and situational. In the situations where women talk down to someone, it is because they perceive that they hold the power in those interactions. Label the behavior what you like, but it is the same basic thing.

            1. seejay*


              Yes, there are occasions where women hold power. That one female CEO may hold power over people in the company and hold sway over who gets hired and may actually make decisions on hiring more women than men (or the other way around), but this is *not* sexism or reverse sexism or what-have-you, because it is not a societal problem. The exact same thing goes if the CEO is black and chooses to hire only black people (thus garnering cries of reverse racism). Just because this one person holds a lot of power in that one company, or even if there are several companies that manage to do it, this doesn’t affect our current society *as a whole*. We live in a white, patriarchal society where white men are the dominant group… therefore reverse racism and reverse sexism (such as labeling things “womansplaining” or decrying women-only events as violations of men’s rights) are bunk.

              We are a white, straight, and male dominated society. It doesn’t matter what we do, the overarching hold of power is run by men and whites. Women in positions of power do not sway the effects of overall society. The same with PoC and non-straights in some positions of power. They cannot influence society.

              1. Tyrion*

                That’s a recent semantic drift of the definition of racism, and it is thankfully still at the fringe. Societal and institutional racism exists, but so does individual racism. Whether or not it affects society as a whole, acts of individual racism are still exactly that, regardless of the perpetrator’s race.

                1. Savannnah*

                  Individual acts of racism are more accurately called prejudice or bigotry. Racism is specific to the systematic nature of the issue.

                2. Tyrion*

                  The idea that institutional power dynamics are required to accurately label something “racism” is a recent development, and is largely relegated to (some) academic and internet social justice circles. But bigotry and prejudice, when they’re based on race, are still accurately called racism.

                3. Sue Wilson*

                  it’s not recent, people have just finally started to listen to the people who are being marginalized.

                4. Sue Wilson*

                  don’t know if you’re talking to me, but your comment referred to a “recent” drift, and I’m trying to tell you that that assumes that when racism was developed every group had equal power of defining it and distributing its definition, when that’s patently untrue. that’s ridiculous to crow about.

                5. Sue Wilson*

                  so, since you’re trying to make a point I assume on some premise, attacking your premise as unsound follows.

                6. Tyrion*

                  It would follow if it attacked the actual premise. It is true that institutional and societal racism exists, and that the privileged class is becoming more aware of it.

                  What doesn’t follow is that because of this new awareness, individual racism does not/cannot exist.

                7. Sue Wilson*

                  Your entire comment is premised on the understanding that “individual racism” was a) generally understood to exist, and is therefore valid for it. But for a philosophical concept to be assumed as valid (and worthy of its mainstay in the public consciousness), you have to be assuming that everyone could actively and equally participate in the questioning of its validity. They couldn’t. Therefore crowing about it’s mainstay in public consciousness as valid is questionable at best. I am attacking you premise that it was valid to begin with.

                  I don’t know, it seems like you’re refusing to countenance that it’s more than likely a definition of racism that implicates marginalized groups in its individual perpetuation might have come from the people who benefit from marginalized groups staying marginalized and privileged groups having less responsibility for fixing it, and that those people also had more power to make it less fringe than other groups saying something difference or even denying it entirely.

                8. C Baker*

                  What doesn’t follow is that because of this new awareness, individual racism does not/cannot exist.

                  Maybe, but we could all avoid another round of this discussion if we just agreed to call the individual type “racial bigotry” and avoid the unmarked term “racism” altogether.

              2. LCL*

                I’m not arguing with your point that def white men and some white women have more power in Western Society, in some cases.

                But the point that if a woman or POC does something bigoted it isn’t really? That’s a modern definition that is utter bull. The first time someone hit me with that one I didn’t answer because it was so off the wall I thought I’d misunderstood him. I nicely restated it and asked him if that was what he meant and he said yes. I politely responded ‘huh’ and that’s where we left it.

                If something is bigoted or condescending it just is. It may have a much greater effect or be applied more to minority groups, but it applies to all.

                1. Sue Wilson*

                  people of a privilege class have more power based on that class in all cases. there might be another class they belong to which is not privileged, and this can certainly become complicated when difference class intersect, but for the same reason that killing in self-defense doesn’t have the exact same ethical considerations as killing for other reasons, marginalized groups classifying the privileged as a group doesn’t have the same ethical considerations as the privileged group classifying the marginalized. it’s just not the same thing, and calling all of it bigotry doesn’t really indicate difference in dynamic.

                  you can still be insulted if anyone insults you, and you can still feel people are being unfair when they are being unfair, but being wary or cautious or even hostile about a group of people who benefit from your marginalization isn’t bigotry, lmao.

                2. slipjack*

                  The terminology has evolved over the last 10-20 years. Racism more and more connotes the *system* that privileges white people over others. So black people being half as likely to get a call back for the same resume is racism. Individual acts can still be bigoted! But without the weight of our culture privileging white people, prejudice against white people is generally at an individual level and doesn’t have the devastating effect of racism.

                3. Sue Wilson*

                  I’m not arguing that there isn’t bigotry between marginalized classes, I’d like to clarify. But I don’t think you can divorce any concept of individual bigotry from the bigoted (against the marginalized class) system, and therefore it’s ridiculous to see privileged-marginalized interactions without considering the class power between them (on that one axis).

                  I think that comes very close to asking that marginalized groups not try to individually address inequality (which would mean giving preference to marginalized groups in certain decisions) because it’s bigoted, according to your understanding of it.

                4. Starbuck*

                  ” It may have a much greater effect or be applied more to minority groups, but it applies to all.”

                  The idea is that the effect is actually categorically different when it’s applied at different levels. As a white person, I might stick out or be unwelcome in certain situations/areas that are majority-minority, maybe even be passed over for certain jobs, but I’m not more likely to be incarcerated or given a longer prison sentence because of my race. No matter how much 1:1 bigotry I might experience from people of color (currently, none) I’m never going to have to worry about those higher-level effects because of the institutional power imbalance. Since those higher-level effects tend to be the most damaging, pervasive, and difficult to change, that’s where I chose to focus my attention and it’s gratifying to see more people thinking that way.

                5. C Baker*

                  But the point that if a woman or POC does something bigoted it isn’t really?

                  The point is to separate the definition of “structural racism” more clearly from the definition of “racial bigotry”, and the definition of “structural sexism” more clearly from the definition of “bigotry based on sex/gender”.

                  And we can all avoid this conversation in the future if we stick to “bigotry” for acts of individual animus.

              3. Dr. Doll*

                Guess I’ll take my marbles and go home then, if by definition of “what” I am, I cannot influence society.

            2. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*


              Yes – women can “priviledge-splain” (eg: a white woman can whitesplain to a black woman or a cis woman can queersplain to an LGBT identifying person). The expression comes from why (and how often it happens that) the “splainer” believes (consciously or unconsciously) that they are obviously more knowledgeable or that their opinion matters more than the person they are “splaining” too.

              Because we live in a patriarchal society, men (as a whole) have more power and privilege than women (as a whole). Therefore “mansplaining” is a thing. In the US there is no situation where women (as a whole) have more power than men (as a whole). Therefore there is no such thing as “womansplaining”.

              Again, a woman can be part of a priviledged group, but their privilege is not rooted in being a woman. It’s rooted in being cis, white, upper class, whatever – therefore it is considered “cis-splaining”, “whitesplaining”, “class-splaining”, etc.

          3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I’m with seejay on this. Womansplaining, like reverse racism, is not a thing. “Mansplaining” refers to a specific social practice that’s rooted in embedded sexism and patriarchy.

            Are there women who overexplain and are condescending? Yes. Is that “womansplaining”? No–it’s just being obnoxious or a jerk.

        5. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I talk about this in the introduction to the show. It’s a term coined to describe a very specific type of sexist behavior, that happens against a backdrop of a sexist society and sexist social structures.

          It’s also true that sometimes a woman is paid more than a man for the same work, but that doesn’t reflect larger problems with sexism in society the way the reverse does.

        6. TrixM*

          I’m a woman in IT who ‘splains to people all the time when it’s not necessarily appropriate – I’ve struggled with being a know-it-all my entire life.

          But I don’t do it to women solely because they ARE women, and that I’m ASSUMING they won’t know anything about topic X because of their gender.

          I’ve been mansplained to about my occupation purely because I’m a woman by non-tech men who are assuming they know better because they’re men (and innately superior in understanding IT?)

          Let me tell you, there is an appreciable difference between general know-it-alls and mansplainers. I admit it can be difficult to discern the difference with certain men at first – you need to be able to compare their interactions with other men.

        1. compte*

          It used to be called over-explaining, condescension, etc., but some groups in recent years have found purchase with this new ill-advised term.

            1. pleaset*

              “I was really pleased (and totally surprised!) to hear that some of my male friends say they have stopped talking so much after hearing about the concept of mansplaining.”

              I have. The first step in improving is becoming aware of it. I talk over people in general, and problem women a bit more than men, so I’m cutting back. Not enough, perhaps, but trying.

              In my case/defense, I rarely “splain” about subjects I’m not expert in – that is, I don’t assume I’m wise on most/all things, which is an aspect of hard-core mansplaining I think. But still, I’m trying to cut back.

          1. anon4now*

            “Patronizing” is a term that already exists, means the same thing as “mansplaining” and is phonetically rooted from the term ‘patriarchal’.
            But it doesn’t sound cutesy, and wasn’t created by a educated white women voicing frustration over a thoughtless man’s comments post 2000, so ‘mansplaning’ it is.

            1. Trout 'Waver*

              Patronizing means something different in today’s vernacular, though. Patronizing generally has a cloyingly sweet veneer over the top and doesn’t have the gendered component.

            2. SoCalHR*

              Maybe women coined their own term because its a bit patronizing to be told that we are being patronized by the patriarch itself /s (mostly)

            3. biobottt*

              No, patronizing doesn’t mean the same thing as mansplaining. Mansplaining refers to the specific situation of a man assuming that a woman, who is more knowledgeable than he is in a certain subject, knows little to nothing just because she’s a woman. And that she needs educating, no matter how much knowledge she evinces. That is not what patronizing means.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Oh, I’m so silly. I should have remembered that as a woman, I don’t know what words mean or how to use them.


                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Terms that exist to explain a specific type of sexism are not inherently derogatory, no. Surely you’re not more worried about how men might react to hearing about a type of sexism than you are about that sexism itself, right?

                2. Yea..right*

                  Absolutely not. Sexism is a real issue. However, it absolutely seems illogical to use a gendered term to describe men while arguing that they shouldn’t use gendered terms to describe women.

                3. ket*

                  It’s not a gendered term to describe men. It describes a *behavior*.

                  If you want to pull out a comparison with a specific “gendered term” that you feel is analogous on the other side, do so; if you can’t, no one can address your nebulous argument.

                4. Yea..right*

                  It describes a behavior that is specifically attributed to men. Hard to say that’s not gendered on it’s face.

                5. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  That feels like really circular logic. A term describing a type of sexist behavior by men is going to be inherently gendered. That’s not inherently a bad thing. Same with a term describing a specific type of racism, like “whitewashing.”

                6. AnotherJill*

                  I would agree that it is illogical. Several people upthread are explaining that women who do the same thing that mansplainers do are just being condescending. If a behavior is being described and that behavior is not unique to a particular gender, then giving it a gendered term seems unnecessary.

                7. Spritely*

                  @AnotherJill – but it’s not the same behavior, because it is different when done by men than it is when done by women.

                8. AnotherJill*

                  The effect of condescending over-explanation on me is the same, no matter what the gender of the perpetrator. Using a special term is unnecessary. But we humans like to label things, and we don’t always use the same ones to mean the same thing, which makes for interesting discussion.

                9. NaoNao*

                  Context and usage matter.
                  People use “gendered terms” all the time. It’s when the female version of the term carries a “taint” of disgust (for example, calling new Army recruits who are all male “ladies” or “girls”) that it’s an issue.
                  Again, only the most extreme, vocal, fringe feminists are saying things like “don’t use gendered terms”.
                  Most are saying “don’t use gendered slurs, and don’t make a female version of something that doesn’t need it” (ie, actress, waitress, editrix, etc). Also don’t use a female gendered term to deride anyone.

                10. compte*

                  I believe that if a man is socially awkward or clueless as well as a bore, his actions aren’t inherently “mansplaining”; however, he’s still at high risk of being accused of it.

                  If his same actions come from a place of sexism, rather, he is indeed a “mansplainer.”

                  While generally a fan of Alison, I’ve been dismayed more than once by her apparent investment in combating sexism (“manism,” perhaps?) with derogatory terms.

                11. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I just don’t think it’s a derogatory term! Does “whitewashing” feel derogatory to you? To me, they feel similar in that they both describe a problematic behavior and they name the systemic piece of it (gender in one case, race in the other). If whitewashing doesn’t feel derogatory to you, do you know why mansplaining feels different? (That’s a genuine question, not an attempt to make a point.)

                12. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Thinking about that more, I wonder if it’s because “mansplaining” is a combo of two words and so it feels … jokier/sillier somehow?

                13. biobottt*

                  If men insist on mistreating women based on their gender, it’s fair to use a specific term to describe that behavior. You don’t think sexism is an inherently derogatory term, right? Then why are you upset by a term describing a specific type of sexist behavior?

                14. alsoanon*

                  With all of this bickering back and forth over the term mansplaining itself vs changing actual behavior, I wonder if using the word it self is really effective in calling out this behavior and changing it.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              Because men don’t like it and they really don’t like that women are calling them out on their crap. They prefer we use a word that they deem acceptable.

              1. Student*

                Because every minute we argue about how the word “mansplaining” makes men feel is a minute where the man in question doesn’t have to hear about a woman who’s smarter than him and unhappy with his conduct.

                1. Julia*

                  You might have hit the nail on the head.

                  Women are soooooooooooooo sensitive, they complain about the tiniest things! … How dare you point out my bad, sexist behavior?

      2. Grad Student*

        Yeah, agreed. It’s definitely possible for women to offer unsolicited explanations to someone who knows more about the topic than they do, but I wouldn’t call that “womansplaining” because it’s not rooted in gendered assumptions (and there’s not a widespread pattern of women doing this to non-women).

        1. JJJJShabado*

          Allison makes this point in the podcast. It’s not that women don’t also have this behavior, but its by far a man -> woman issue by the numbers.

          1. fposte*

            Right. It’s possible for any individual to feel that level of authority over information (I speak as a lecture-y person myself), but it’s acculturated more into certain groups than others. That’s why I don’t think it’s just about listening; it’s about understanding that you don’t possess the unique authority you feel you do.

        2. Anonymeece*

          Seconding the last part of this – “women doing this to non-women” is the key. Most of the women I know who fall into those traits (condescending, over-explaining, etc.) do it equally to both men and women. The difference between “mansplaining” and “condescending overexplainers” is whether or not they do it to almost exclusively women, or to everybody. One is a sexist jerk, the other is a regular jerk.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Yep. A man who does it to women, because he’s a man and they’re women and therefore he automatically knows more, is mansplaining. A person who does it to anyone, because they always think they’re the smartest person in the room, is condescending, etc.

            1. oranges & lemons*

              I think the exercise that Alison suggests in the podcast of imagining you’re speaking to an older male boss is a great illustration of how power dynamics operate in conversations. I’m sure there are people out there who cheerfully inundate everyone with their opinions all the time, but I bet most people will only feel comfortable doing this to people who they perceive as lower status in some way. The issue is how often women (particularly younger women) are automatically stuck in that category.

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            yeah, that would be me. I’m working on it, but I am definitely an equal gender offender.

        3. mrs__peel*

          Exactly. Women who monopolize conversations generally aren’t doing it because they assume men are too inherently dumb or incompetent to understand the basics of [x topic].

        4. NW Mossy*

          I suppose you could call it womansplaining if a woman is explaining something to a man on a gendered assumption that men don’t know anything about, say, needlecrafts or wedding dresses or some other stereotypically feminine pursuit.

          1. TootsNYC*

            and one could argue that -inside the fabric store,- women think of themselves as having more power.

      3. MoodyMoody*

        I would respectfully argue that womansplaining happens in contexts where women are generally assumed to be more knowledgeable: cleaning, the home, cooking, childrearing, etc. If a childless woman explains the correct procedure for changing a diaper to an involved father with four children, I think she’s womansplaining.

        1. Cat Supervisor*

          You’re assuming that there’s power and prestige attached to these skills. In a patriarchal society, such as ours, they are not. Sure, keeping a clean home and caring for children is a wonderful, necessary thing, but think about how women are treated by society if they choose to delegate these tasks to others. Think about how women who work as professional caregivers and cleaners are treated? Why do we have janitors vs. housekeepers? Why aren’t there more women chefs? Think about how men are viewed when they demonstrate these behaviors (Ooo! You’re so lucky to have a husband that is so involved with his children/knows how to cook, etc). These skills do not have value in a patriarchal society unless they are undertaken by a man, otherwise they’re historically considered “woman’s work.”

          1. Mad Baggins*

            Janitor vs. housekeeper, wow I never thought about that difference! I’ve seen both men and women cleaning hospitals, schools, etc. but heard the man described as “janitor” and the woman described as “cleaning lady”. Wooooooah how deep does this rabbit hole go…

        2. Cat Supervisor*

          Also, arguing around the assumption that women are assumed to be more knowledgeable is an inherently sexist argument (not that I feel you’re being malicious about it). Why would a woman be any more knowledgeable about cooking than a man? Because we are socialized to believe that. Even if women were inherently more knowledgeable about cooking, it certainly doesn’t benefit their standing in the culinary world at large (research how many female James Beard award winners are out there).

          1. Yea..right*

            I think Moody’s argument was that women themselves assume that they know more than men in that particular situation for no other reason than their gender.

        3. Nita*

          Haha, you do have a point! My husband was subjected to this kind of womansplaining a lot when he was taking care of our young kids. We tag-teamed child care for a few months, and when we’d take them outside we’d do very similar things. Only, if it was my day with the kids I’d just walk along down the street without a care, while he would be assailed by “advice” from every single nosy retired lady that he came across. The sort of advice that implies he has no clue what he’s doing and is exposing the kids to all kinds of dangers.

          He’s too polite for his own good. I really wanted to give them a piece of my mind for his sake if they said that in front of me, but somehow, when they saw a woman walking next to him, they didn’t see fit to say anything.

          1. Cat Supervisor*

            I would argue that your husband was experiencing the negative affects of The Patriarchy. Of course you could go about caring for your kids un-accosted…because you’re performing femininity as a woman. Your husband was performing tasks outside of his socially engineered gender role. Those retired ladies assumed that he couldn’t possibly know what he’s doing because they were socialized to accept that men are supposed to care for their families by making money and being a provider, not by taking them to the park/doctors office/etc. Internalized misogyny sucks and is very difficult to reverse.

            1. I'll think of a clever name later...maybe,*

              It’s interesting. I actually had a doctor mansplain to me and it was awful. After the birth of my second child I was accidentally scheduled with a pediatrician that my children didn’t regularly see. He was an older, white man. I was not a new mom and was very familiar with how to do the basic parenting chores (feeding, bathing, holding, etc) that go along with a newborn. This doctor proceeded to lecture me for several long minutes while I sat there in confusion. My husband, who was sitting in the waiting room with our oldest child, popped his head into the office to ask me for the diaper bag and the doctor immediately changed his tune. He invited my husband into the office, made several remarks about how he (my husband) could make sure I followed the rules to be a good mom, and was overall condescending. I was exhausted and eventually snapped. A lot of what I said is a blur but I did ask to see his vagina since he was an expert on being a tired woman and I told him to shut his piehole. The doctor actually looked at my husband and asked “Do you let her talk like this to you?” That’s when we left the office. I filed a complaint with the practice. Apparently I was not the first. The receptionist said that he hadn’t had a new patient in years and that people would distinctly ask not to be scheduled with him even for an emergency appointment. It’s no wonder. Obviously I’ve encountered my share of mansplaining over the years but that was the worst case.

        4. LKW*

          If you were to ask people for this term – it would likely be called “nagging” which is, in itself, a negatively gendered term.

      4. RUKiddingMe*

        Thank you. Yes an occasional woman may do that type of behavior but it’s not a thing like manspalining is.

        1. alsoanon*

          It’s obviously a thing for the people that has had it happen to them. Telling people that it’ts not a thing doesn’t undo the fact that it has happenend.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            To clarify, when I said it’s not “a thing” I meant that it’s not a thing that gets done on a regular basis.

            Yes, the occasional woman does it, usually to other women, but sometimes to a man, and it is generally when said woman is in a position of power (i.e. the boss) and not in normal day-to-day work, school, or social interactions where men (on the whole) hold the power and women (on the whole) do not.

            To be clear, when this happens with women, unlike with males it is not a specific, predictable behavior that is directed almost exclusively towards one gender (women) with the assumption by the person speaking (male) that they are inherently more intelligent, better informed, ad nauseam than the person they are speaking to (woman).

            Even when they don’t know jack about the topic and are speaking to someone (woman) who is an actual expert they (male) feel entitled to have their normally ill-informed opinion (opinion, not expertise) listened to as they drone on in some sort of masturbatory dialogue.

            The odd occurrence of a woman doing this to a male is not “a thing.” It is an aberration, an outlier. Yeah maybe it happened to you or someone you know once or twice but it is a micro-aggression that women are constantly subjected to, which makes it “a thing.”

            Hope that helps clear up what I was saying.

    2. Indoor Cat*

      Also, in defense of Another Jill: the term class-splaining, or something similar, hasn’t yet caught on, but I’ve been subject to it a lot. Being “talked at” by rich people of any gender is incredibly irritating, and due to my own life’s context, I’m often condescended to by wealthy women rather than men (I’m a woman who is definitely not wealthy and has been off and on public assistance throughout my life).

      It is hard to say why this presumption is so grating. It is not necessarily about class issues, it could be about any issue. But I do tend to think of it as woman-splaining until I figure out another way to say it. A context where a woman has more financial power, that seems more important than her gender at that point. But, idk, maybe I’m off base.

      1. Specialk9*

        That stinks. Those exceptions, where there is the default assumption of ignorance based on a systemic power differential (race, class, etc), fit well under the term “condesplaining”.

  6. SoCalHR*

    HE-PEATING, the cousin to mansplaining, is also a really annoying phenomenon that I experience frequently (when an man repeats something that a woman has said and he and/or others now see it as a novel/good/legitimate idea or comment)

    1. Temperance*

      My favorite way to respond to he-peaters is to call it out by asking, “isn’t that what jane just said?” or, if I’m feeling particularly aggressive, “how is that different from my suggestion?”

      1. BRR*

        Next time I experience this I definitely am going to ask how the repeated suggestion is different with an inquisitive tone.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I do this, too. I also emphasize credit to the person who did the prior work, because it really bugs me when credit goes to the wrong person primarily because of embedded sexism/racism, etc.

      3. SoCalHR*

        I definitely try to call it out whenever possible with similar language, for myself and others (it does seem a little less aggressive/credit seeking if you call it out for someone else – so MALE READERS keep an eye out for this and redirect credit where appropriate).

        Temperance, you mean “Assertive” right? ;-)

      4. Marillenbaum*

        We used to use that in my political economy class! My graduate program is fairly evenly split along gender lines, but the men were taking up entirely too much airtime in class discussions, in part because of stuff like this. Thankfully, that semester was when that article came out about women in the Obama White House and their amplification technique, and we all decided to use it. The class discussions became more equitable, and frankly, the quality went up because it wasn’t just a bunch of dudes talking over each other to bleat out their own thoughts and experiences.

        1. Julia*

          How did you convince your female classmates to participate in that approach? I have a similar problem and when I tried to do something about it, no one backed me up. :(

      5. Academic Addie*

        Now that I have a little bit of power, I do this a. lot. My favorite is your aggressive solution “I think I missed something. Please explain how this is different than suggestion.” It forces the speaker to choose between lying (and saying they didn’t hear it), truthfully admitting to wasting everyone’s time with their misogyny, or bumbling around trying to explain why their identical proposal is better. Either way, it costs the speaker capital and credibility.

    2. all aboard the anon train*

      This happens to me ALL THE TIME. I’m honestly really tired of offering ideas and then having male coworkers repeat it in almost the exact say way and get praised for it while my comments/suggestions aren’t even acknowledged. The worst is when my comment/suggestion is met with a surprised reaction, as if I couldn’t possibly be smart enough to think of such things.

      And if I try to do the “so this is exactly like my suggestion” or “that’s what I just said”, I’m called aggressive. Ugh.

      1. Amber T*

        Not only are you aggressive, you’re not a team player when you do that! Come on, common end goal here! /sarcasm

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        This was happening at work until I finally lost it and said, “I literally said that yesterday.” Everyone got awkward and uncomfortable and then said they hadn’t been really paying attention when I’d said it the day before. I told them it was a repeated pattern and that it was frustrating. They started treating me like I was the “angry woman of color,” and then I stopped talking at work.

        1. Close Bracket*

          Women of color have good reason to be angry. I’m sorry our stupid society 1) gives you so many reasons to be angry and 2) then essentially gaslight you for your anger.

        2. Anonymeece*

          Or you’re suddenly “too emotional”/”hysterical” because you’re angry about a very legitimate reason that no one else acknowledges.

          I’m so sorry that happened/is happening to you.

        3. RUKiddingMe*

          “Angry? You haven’t seen angry yet. Come at me…see what happens.”

          I am just too tired/old/pissed off (mix and match) to take that crap any,more.

      3. boo bot*

        When it’s remotely plausible, I usually cut in as soon as he takes a breath and then say, “Yes, that’s exactly what I was saying. The other thing I wanted to add was…”

        I try to say it as if, instead of flagrantly attempting* to take credit for my thoughts, the guy in question was repeating what I said to make sure he had perfectly understood every nuance of my brilliant ideas. So I heartily assure him that he has indeed understood. It takes quick footwork, though.

        *To me the most maddening thing is, I’m sure many men who do this don’t do it on purpose. They just think so very little of the women in the room, that those women’s voices must seem like the voices of their own thoughts, drifting idly through their own heads.

        1. Mad Baggins*

          “women’s voices must seem like the voices of their own thoughts, drifting idly through their own heads.”
          Exactly this! I love when people repeat stories I told them back to me, like “I know someone who…/I heard this great idea that…” Yes, that someone was me. I told you that. That was my idea!

      4. Rusty Shackelford*

        Try a chipper “Awesome, Chuck! I’m so glad you agree with me!” With a big smile, of course. And maybe some eyelash batting.


    3. Tuxedo Cat*

      I’ve had that happen multiple times with some folks, and I swear that I thought I was nuts until I started asking people about if I didn’t just say that.

      My favorites were when the person would go “No, that’s wrong /not how things will be done” and then goes to repeat in verbatim what I just said.

      1. LKW*

        The term I use when we are agreeing but not connecting is “It seems we are in Violent Agreement”.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      “He-peating”! Yes! I finally have a word for this, thank you! I hate it when this happens, to me and to other people.

    5. Anonymeece*

      I learned a new one recently:

      Hequest (n.): when a man asks a woman to do administrative tasks, even if those tasks are not within her job arena.

      Example: John, manager of teapot exporting, asked Jane, the vice president of sales, where the envelopes were instead of asking Jim, the administrative assistant for the office.

    6. GRA*

      My male boss does the ALL THE TIME. Most of us respond with “didn’t {insert female colleague’s name here} just say that?” but he never seems to catch on.

    7. Earthwalker*

      Love the term! At ex-company it was common to link the mansplaining and he-peating. I make a recommendation at staff meeting and it is ridiculed. Five minutes later a man says the same thing and what a great idea that is! Then he hunts me down after meeting to explain …it…to…me…slowly. It’s the icing on the cake.

    8. Anon For This Post*

      I’m a dude, and I am not going to pretend to understand what it’s like to live in a patriarchal society as a woman, but I will say that I fully understand being on the “person whose idea is repeated.” I have made so many suggestions (because it’s my job to make suggestions based on data) and had them ignored, just to have them repeated by the “favorite of the boss” several months later and acted upon.

      1. PSB*

        Seconded. But when I stop and think about it…I’ve had a roughly even mix of men and women as bosses, and have only ever had it happen with other men. That’s purely anecdotal, of course, but I hadn’t really thought about it til now.

      2. Temperance*

        So with he-peating, this will happen either right after a woman has spoken, or within a day or so. Look through these examples for the difference.

    9. Oxford Coma*

      They do this so often and so obviously to Dee in Always Sunny that I’ve started using that as an example for guys who don’t get it.

    10. Hrovitnir*

      This is definitely a thing men can help with – actively repeating an ignored suggestion from a woman and when acknowledged say that it was her contribution.

      Men (or other privileged groups in the case of racism/homophobia etc) acknowledging this stuff can make big inroads into unconscious bias. Or conscious, just by making it awkward.

  7. Tuxedo Cat*

    When I think about mansplaining (or race-splaining or class-splaining), it’s when the other person has little to no experience in an area relative to me yet they want to school me on it and act as though they are superior to me.

    I can’t listen to the podcast, but I am curious why the caller likes to have an opinion even if he doesn’t know that much on a topic. If you don’t know that much, it’s okay to not know enough to have an opinion or have a tentative opinion.

    1. Kimberlee, no longer Esq.*

      I think part of this is in how men vs women are socialized (in America, anyway). We’re socialized to believe that men should lead, that men are smart, that men are dispassionate and rational. A lot of men have thus been treated their whole lives like they _should_ be experts, and that their opinions were reached by a thoughtful and objective thought process (regardless of how they were actually achieved). That sort of socialization can be hard to break out of, especially when you don’t even know you’re in it.

      1. Grad Student*

        I think some people also take great joy in having an opinion (think about Dopameanie’s “controversial opinion threads” on the weekend open thread) but then take that too far or apply it too broadly. (To be clear, I think Dopameanie’s threads are great, largely because no one is taking the subject or the various opinions expressed seriously.)

        1. LCL*

          Yet even with last weekend’s thread, it made at least one poster very uncomfortable. The poster made it clear they understood what was going on, and still didn’t like it at all. I’m thinking that being conflict-averse enables the ‘splainers.

          And Apple Jacks are still the best cereal!

        2. LouiseM*

          Good point. That’s what I see with certain self-proclaimed feminist men who would self-flagellate forever if someone said they were mansplaining: they just take so much PLEASURE in having a) had an opinion and b) strung enough words together to express it that they end up mansplaining.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        The podcast guest is British though, so American socialization doesn’t really come into play.

        1. SoCalHR*

          I agree, this is a BIG variable here. Too bad an American guy didn’t volunteer (case in point maybe?)

          1. Strawmeatloaf*

            Yeah, we’re both in white, heterosexual male dominated societies, not sure why the podcast wouldn’t be relevant.

          1. AngelicGamer aka that visually impaired peep*

            Fun fact, because I like history, the ratio of kings to queens of England are 56 to 5 from 827 to the present. :D They are Queen Mary (aka Bloody Mary), Queen Elizabeth the First, Queen Anne, Queen Victoria, and Queen Elizabeth the Second.

            1. Evan Þ.*

              If you’re counting from 827, don’t forget two more women who arguably reigned as queens: the Empress Matilda and Jane Grey. I’d count at least Matilda in any list of female monarchs.

              1. AngelicGamer aka that visually impaired peep*

                Eek. Horrible of me to forget Jane Grey. :( However, I did not know of Empress Matilda and now need to go read everything about her. She sounds epic.

        2. mrs__peel*

          Yep- having lived in both the US and the UK, my experience was that there were HUGE differences in how men were socialized to behave and what was considered polite.

          In the UK, there seemed to be much more emphasis on staying quiet unless spoken to first, apologizing often, and generally trying not to bother other people. (Not that everyone is like that, but much more so than in the US). As a reserved introvert, I found it quite refreshing!

        3. all aboard the anon train*

          Socialization might come into play, but I get mansplained to by my British colleagues just as much as my American ones. My British colleagues are often more condescending.

          1. misspiggy*

            Plus they think they’re being so charming that you haven’t noticed them patronising you.

      3. Tuxedo Cat*

        What’s curious to me is that the caller admits he thinks he should have an opinion even when he doesn’t know much on a topic. He doesn’t suggest that it was reach in any thoughtful, objective manner, which would make sense to me even if he didn’t.

        1. paul*

          I think that happens a lot; I know I’m prone to it (and actively trying to deprogram it because holy crap is it annoying).

        2. Savannnah*

          As an east coast Jew, I can strum up an opinion about anything at any time even if I have no knowledge of the topic. But the difference is, most of the time, I keep it to myself. Curious about this need to have one and share it. I think thats the difference between women and men and how we have been socialized.

          1. Tuxedo Cat*

            That’s another piece, too- even if an opinion has reasons (and good ones at that), does it always need to be shared?

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              I have opinions on pretty much everything. No, they don’t need to be shared. But it’s one way to connect to people.

              And having people *listen* to your opinions? It’s a high. Seriously, I think people should do some MRIs on it, I bet there’s a small dopamine hit involved.

          2. mrs__peel*

            I can definitely relate to that as a Jewish person. I think there are also cultural expectations that (a) it’s okay to argue with other opinionated Jews who enjoy a similar level of give-and-take and/or (b) you’ll go to law school so you can argue professionally. (Which I ended up doing). :)

            1. Legal Beagle*

              Just have to chime in as a fellow Jewish lawyer and say that I am terribly non-confrontational and really hate debates/arguments in social situations. It makes me actively uncomfortable. So, one data point in the opposite column!

          3. Lehigh*

            I’m not Jewish, but also from the East Coast. I recently found the utter freedom of telling people (and myself) “I don’t have an opinion on that.” I actually really like it, but it certainly did not come naturally!

            Sometimes I still keep my lack of opinion to myself because I feel like some people will then try to just give me their opinions in place of the one I’ve chosen not to form (because I can’t be bothered to do the hours of research to be informed on the topic, etc.)

          4. Millennial Lawyer*

            This thread has me dying. I read Tuxedo’s comment like “hmmm well *I* am like that…” and then I scrolled down to see Savannah’s comment. East coast jewish woman – guilty as charged!

        3. TootsNYC*

          having an opinion even when the person hasn’t done any research or doesn’t know anything about the topic, is what happened in the2016 election. Example: We need extreme vetting of refugees! We need to check their Facebook page!

      4. ragazza*

        A male friend of mine in college used to call this M.A.S. (Male Answer Syndrome) as an explanation for why he felt compelled to explain things he admitted he knew nothing about.

      5. LKW*

        I think the other issue is that most people think they are smarter than they actually are. There was an article in the NY Times last week about a small study -not what I would call conclusive – that reported men perceived themselves as smarter than the women in the class, even if they were on par or sub-par to the women in terms of test scores and performance.

    2. all aboard the anon train*

      Yes. I find this happens a lot in social justice contexts, especially with allies. There’s a difference between calling out someone’s bad behavior or asking a legitimate question and speaking for a group or assuming you know more about someone else’s lived experiences. I can’t speak to other marginalized groups, but I know this happens a lot with LGBTQA+ allies.

      1. Tuxedo Cat*

        I’ve experience this with race, gender, and class. I’m going to guess it appears in most if not all marginalized groups with an active group of allies.

    3. The Original K.*

      Yeah, I used to work with a guy who did this. He had virtually no experience in my field (we worked in different departments) but he used to constantly mansplain, and because he had no experience, his mansplaining was always wrong. It took twice as long to do anything because I had to explain why he was wrong. I eventually stopped explaining myself – I’d just be like “No, we can’t do that” and move forward. He got smacked down by someone else (a man, naturally) who told him one of his ideas was “completely unfeasible” and laid out why (which of course, I already knew) and he was less inclined to mansplain after that.

      1. Tuxedo Cat*

        I had a coworker like this. What was truly stunning is he’d outright admit he didn’t do much work in a given area and yet he’d pull this, even after I pointed out I had done years of work in an area.

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Oh, yes. This is why Solnit’s “Men Explain Things To Me” is so satisfying (and cringe-inducing).

    5. beanie beans*

      My brother-in-law is a classic mansplainer and after finally calling him on it once he said fully acknowledged that he didn’t actually know what he was talking about and was just being conversational. He assumed that people who knew more than him on something would call him on his errors, and if they didn’t, then it didn’t matter that the things he was saying might not be accurate.

      I’m still pretty floored and confused that people are fine spewing words they know may not be accurate just to be conversational. And now I take every word he says with a grain of salt. Or I just flat out assume he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

      I’m looking forward to listening to the podcast on my commute home!

      1. Savannnah*

        Your comments make me think about the stat, and I don’t have the numbers quite right, but that men apply to jobs when they have like 50-60% of what is listed as required and women apply to jobs when they match 90%.

        1. Lehigh*

          That is interesting! I’m female, and I sometimes look at (but don’t apply to!) job listings that I’m less than 90% qualified for. I always imagine the interviewer finding out about the missing qualifications and sternly asking me why I wasted their time by applying, knowing I didn’t fit the description.

    6. Amber Rose*

      Depending on the subject, there can be a lot to learn. A lot of conflicting views and such that can take a long time to grasp. That doesn’t really stop people from developing opinions though right? Almost nobody waits until they have all the facts to form opinions or want to discuss what they have learned and how they feel about it.

      I have opinions about everything. Talking about them with people is one of many ways I learn more and change or refine my opinions.

      1. PSB*

        I’d guess the key is the willingness to change or refine opinions. It feels like that’s lacking in a lot of people.

      2. Tuxedo Cat*

        It’s not about knowing all the facts, it’s about having some basis and being tentative in your opinion rather than authoritative. I don’t know what your experiences have been like, but when people tell me that they have an opinion on x even though they don’t really know much about it, it’s usually a strong opinion that they don’t want contradicted and that they see as an absolute truth.

        I think other thing is that the caller wrote or said “I like having an opinion about things I don’t necessarily know much about.” I’m not sure why that’s something he’d like. To me, that’s like drawing a conclusion without knowing a bunch of details that could be important. I don’t know, I think that can be incredibly dangerous and not necessarily something one should like.

        1. pleaset*

          An important aspect of sharing knowledge is being aware of the limits/quality of your knowledge and transparent about that. Many people miss one or both of these things. Guys probably miss them more than women do.

      3. LKW*

        Sure, but do you approach the author of an article and tell them what they actually meant? Do you tell your judge the real meaning behind the case law you are using as your argument (even though the judge actually tried the case as a lawyer)? Because while you may have opinions, I would expect you would allow the people who actually did the work to tell you the meaning behind the work. Unlike a mansplainer.

        Providing an opinion isn’t enough -it’s dismissing the actual expertise in the room with said mainsplainer. Like Allison said in the podcast, it takes chutzpah for a man to explain menstrual cramps to a woman.

    7. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Also the part where he said, “Certain reactions really bring it out of me, too, – if someone says “I don’t know” / “I’m not sure X”, then I really like to jump in … I notice this dynamic happens even with super smart female friends who might express themselves cautiously.”

      Sometimes people are just trying to start a conversation with collaborative back and forth, which then sounds “hesitant” and “cautious” to people who want to lecture and hold forth and “be the expert”. If the person is seeking a mutual exchange by advancing a soft opening gambit, it is off-putting for the other person to say, “Oh, I sense hesitation; let me get my soapbox out.”

      1. Mad Baggins*

        I noticed this too. Other commenters have brought up that article that showed men often overestimate their intelligence/abilities, and women often underestimate (in my poor rewording of the article’s argument). So what’s really happening is, he is saying, “Hey, did you hear about those new llama grooming shears?” And she, a llama groomer, responds, “Yeah, I don’t know about them in detail though.” So he jumps in and starts explaining all about the shears and how they cut so much better than safety scissors… and then she responds, “Oh yes, I know about that, I’m just not sure that they’re more effective than Groomisima brand shears which are more cost effective and energy efficient…”

        And even in my own comment I downplayed my understanding of an article I definitely read and understood!

    8. Shelby Drink your Juice*

      I have that issue with one man at work. I haven’t decided if it’s because I’m a woman or because I’m a lower labor grade than him.

      He was pushing for us to do proposal estimates a specific way. I have years experience working proposals which is why I was recruited for this position. I told him no, we couldn’t do it his way because there’s no data to back it up. He talked over me and pushed me around in the multiple conversations we had about it. So we had another meeting and a man said exactly what I had been telling him and he finally shut up about it.

      I greatly dislike this man now.

  8. Lady Phoenix*

    I think mansplaining is pretty much making a lecture about a subject without the female listener’s permission, with the assumption the woman knows little about the subject.

    Or they hold the female listener hostage in a lecture on something they know.

    And then you get to other matters,
    Like a white person talking over a black person, rich over poor, cis over trans…

    The biggest issue is that the speaker thinks so little of the listener because of their “lower” status, so much so that it is up for the mighty priviledged speaker to swoop in and save the day.

    As Megara quotes: “I’m a damsel, I’m in distress, I can handle this. Have a nice day…”

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      ‘I think mansplaining is pretty much making a lecture about a subject without the female listener’s permission, with the assumption the woman knows little about the subject.”

      Yes! This is what I was talking about up-thread, where the man approaches the conversation already looking for any sign of hesitation, and if he spots any, he takes that as an opportunity to get his soapbox out and have a long, one-sided lecture. Maybe the female person just wants to have a conversation, but a one-sided lecture is NOT a conversation.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Men will sometimes trail after you if you attempt to move away from them while they’re mansplaining, but they will not follow you into the women’s bathroom. I’ve extracted myself from many a similar conversation by claiming I was just on my way to have a pee.

        Annoying that I’d have to.

  9. Myrin*

    I really loved this episode! It’s such a great idea in the first place, Alison, and it’s great that you found a level-headed, self-aware guy who was willing to participate. You could hear that he was really taking your ideas and suggestions to heart and already thinking about how to implement them.

    1. Martha Heil*

      I think he’s probably not a mansplainer if he’s actually worried about being one. Usually it’s people who don’t self-reflect.

      1. Mookie*

        (Well, actually) /s

        I don’t know that this is at all true of the caller, though he does like to mansplain mansplaining, but wanting to know about exceptions and when the feminist hivemind gives the all-clear and says It’s Okay to Mansplain [this thing or in this oddly specific context] reminds me of novelists who are performative in wondering where they can write lovingly about rape or white people who want to know when and where they are permitted to use a certain pejorative. If rules-lawyering is your first or only inquiry into a subject, you may want to reevaluate just how clued-in you think you are of a phenomenon that doesn’t affect you.

        The easy answer if you’re not sure? Maybe pipe down. It really isn’t that big of a sacrifice, to not show off or show someone up. If momentarily appearing to not know the answer to something is that painful for you, perhaps you understand why women don’t like it when men assume without evidence we must be ignorant and in need of their knowledge and input.

  10. Detective Amy Santiago*

    The absolute worst kind of mansplaining is when cis men try to explain things like periods and childbirth.

    Kudos to the LW for being brave enough to have this conversation with Alison and also for making an effort to educate your friends.

    1. Delphine*

      The absolute worst kind of mansplaining is when cis men try to explain things like periods and childbirth.

      And they do it with such confidence too! Did you know you can just hold in your period like pee?

      1. fposte*

        Hey, he’s been able to hold his in his entire life, which is certainly better than I did.

        1. Lady Phoenix*

          Remind me of some dude that invented the “lipstick” glue to deal with the pesky period problem. And to remove the glue, you pee on it.

          Yes, it was invented by a man. He was a chiropractor.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            OMG I forgot about that.

            And I think I kind of hate you for reminding me.

            1. Lady Phoenix*

              Yup. And when people told how much of a bad idea gluing your labia was, he got defensive, “[Y]ou as a woman should have come up with a better solution than diapers and plugs, but you didn’t. Reason being women are focused on and distracted by your period 25 per cent of the time, making them far less productive than they could be.”

              Yes, this guy as a patent on the vagina glue.

              1. boo bot*

                Well of course he has a patent on vagina glue! He isn’t distracted by having a period 25% of the time!

                … He’s just distracted by vagina glue…

                1. Lady Phoenix*

                  I will at least have the perfect device for mansplainers: gluing their mouth shut.

                  What? It IS a lipstick.

              2. Glowcat*

                omg I replied without reading the further comments and… I wanted to know this even less.

          2. Goya de la Mancha*

            In all seriousness, if something like this came along, I would be willing to try it – assuming he meant the 2nd set of lips…

          3. Glowcat*

            I did’t want to know this o_______o did he even think it was a good idea???
            But I bet the inventor of the menstrual cup is a woman :)

            1. Lady Phoenix*

              Yes, he did think he was an idea. He was a chiropractor (most likely NOT a medical professional with a license, and definitely NOT a gynecologist) who thought women peed through the same hole we birth babies in.

              Quick anatomy lesson, no we do not.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        The episode of The Office where Jim is trying to explain nursing the baby to Pam: “Did you push the milk out? Just push — Like this! [flexes his chest in an Incredible Hulk motion]”

      3. many bells down*

        There’s a really long Tumblr thread that comes across my dash every so often where a guy explains that it’s called a “period”, because it’s only supposed to be one dot of blood. If you bleed more than that it’s due to your poor diet.

        Pretty sure that guy’s deactivated his account now.

        1. Faintlymacabre*

          Wow. Just wow. That might be the most amazing thing I’ve ever heard. Just the one dainty drop of blood. I think my head exploded.

        2. Glowcat*

          It’s a popular idea among some extreme vegan circles: healthy women with healthy diets don’t have periods, and periods is a disease caused by eating meat. There’s a totally different phenomenon at play here, though.

    2. Murphy*

      Or anything that they’re uniquely unqualified (thank to whoever used that phrase in the comments yesterday!) to have knowledge on.I’m acquaintances with a guy who tried to mansplain sexism in women’s fitness (specifically about women being told not to “bulk up too much” etc.) And his stance was “well I’ve never seen it, therefore it doesn’t happen” despite a) his being neither a woman, nor in fitness and b) his friend was saying she experienced this and was discussing an article where other women had similar experiences. My dude, this is not your area.

        1. many bells down*

          My teenage stepson tried that when I said something about women getting harassed in online games. Well he hasn’t seen that in any of HIS games!

          My buddy, you have forgotten that I am,in fact, a woman who has been online since loooong before you were born.

    3. Em*

      Just this easter a single, older male bachlor started explaining something about c-sections to my sister in law WHO HAD HAD ONE. She was starting to get thunder eyes, so I loudly said “THANK YOU FOR EXPLAINING CHILDBIRTH TO US. THERE’S NO WAY WE COULD HAVE KNOWN ANYTHING ABOUT IT.”

    4. Mike C.*

      How far does this go when talking about medical practices? Obviously I won’t ever know what it’s like to have a kid, but I feel like I can read enough medical literature to understand that consuming the placenta has no medical value.

      Maybe I’m wrong here, I’m happy to hear either way.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I think that’s a little different, but I’d still suggest treading carefully. My initial thought was that if you’re citing a scientific study and referencing facts, it’s probably okay, but if it’s contradictory to someone’s lived experience, I’m not sure that matters as much.

        Like, if you’re in a room with ten women who are talking about their experiences with menstrual cramps, it would be very unwelcome to cite a study saying that menstrual cramps aren’t real or something.

        But tbh, I was referring more to things like what Delphine & fposte referenced – that thing that went viral last year about the guy who seemed to think women could control when they bleed (like urination) or men questioning how many pads/tampons someone needs.

        1. JaneO*

          I would argue that a man telling a group of women that menstrual cramps aren’t ‘real or something’ wouldn’t be just be unwelcome, it would be the height of folly, to say the least!

        2. mrs__peel*

          I just remembered the NASA engineers who were planning to send Sally Ride into space with hundreds of tampons for a single month…

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Were they worried she was going to get stuck in space and need several months supply?

            /rhetorical question

            1. ggg*

              That’s pretty funny, but gotta say, before I got in that space shuttle, I would want to be overprepared for EVERYTHING.

              1. mrs__peel*

                I’m hoping for some sort of “2001” scenario, where I age backwards into a Galactic Space Fetus™ and don’t have worry about periods anymore.

        3. Lehigh*

          I think a lot of it is about approach. Like, someone mentions her friend thinks she should eat the placenta – it’s okay to say, “According to my reading, that’s really not shown to have any medical value.”

          Try not to “Well, actually” somebody who’s saying that it did X or Y in her own experience. You *could* still say something like, “That’s interesting. I had read that it didn’t really do anything.”

          Most women are going to be socialized not to “Well, actually” back at you. I know some people use that kind of Absolute Certainty language even in conversations where they’re comfortable being contradicted, but for people who are less comfortable with direct confrontations it’s really conversation-killing.

          1. LKW*

            Or you could ask “May I ask why you are considering it?” because maybe she doesn’t give a crap about the nutritional value and just wants some spiritual connection with it or whatever drives a person to eat a placenta. But sometimes you don’t have to have a position on something. Unless she is asking you to eat the placenta with her. Then you have to have a position.

        4. LBK*

          Yeah, I think the clearest line here is trying to use research to deny someone their lived experience – even if it’s something that’s empirically just wrong, like the placenta consumption example fposte cited below. If a woman says it gave her some magical health benefits even when there’s literally no evidence to support that, I think you just have to let them have it and keep your mouth shut.

          If it’s a purely theoretically debate and the only thing the other person is bringing to the table is that they’re a woman – but not one who’s actually been pregnant – then I think you’re on more even ground to argue from a point of research.

          I seem to remember in the past that you’re vehemently opposed to letting people have this when it comes to things like people claiming homeopathy cured their cancer because it allows bad, dangerous “science” to persist/spread. I don’t know if I have a good answer for that; I think maybe it’s a factor of the risk to other people if the person promotes their view as gospel.

      2. Reba*

        Not about medical facts, but about listening.

        I have had a dude insist on really dumb shit about periods, like they all occur in the same calendar week. Was very resistant to hearing otherwise from multiple period-havers.

        I have read about marriages ending because dude insisted partner was not “really” in labor because the contractions weren’t “really” painful enough and the baby was born in the drive thru line, that sort of thing.

          1. Parenthetically*

            This is good and I low-key want to send it to my husband. He is a gem, and reading this thread makes me value his humility and kindness that much more, but jeezy creezy every once in a great while he just feels the need to sort of “clarify” if this thing I think is awful is REALLY that awful?

          2. LPUK*

            I frequently have this problem with my father. Even though I am now in my fifties, he still doesn’t quite believe what I say until it’s been independently verified by an independent source. Exhibit 1: when I lived in Ireland we were driving from Dublin to Belfast and he was in the passenger seat with my map AND his own Satnav. Even though I had driven this exact route before, he would not believe me when I said the motorway had been extended since the map issue, and argued so vehemently that I was wrong ABOUT MY OWN EXPERIENCE that I ended up allowing him to navigate me on a long and unnecessary detour using an outdated map rather than send him into a brooding sulk ( which can last more than a month – I don’t care but my mother has to live with him!) rather than just drive on the road i’d Used before.!

          1. LouiseM*

            I think this was a joke–many of my personal heroes (Willie Parker, George Tiller) are male ob-gyns so I hope so!

        1. mrs__peel*

          Men *who dismissively discount women’s experiences* should definitely not be OB-GYNs.

          1. TootsNYC*

            when I was discussing my “childbirth plan” with one of my OB/GYNs, and natural childbirth, epidurals, etc., he said to me:
            “I have never had a baby, so I don’t really know what it’s like. I’ve delivered many of them, and worked with many women who -were- having babies, and so I think that the pain is pretty real, and an epidural is often the right thing. I don’t think any woman fails when she has one. And births don’t always go according to plan. So we’ll call these preferences, and make the final decision once we’re in place.”
            (I had a C-section.)

      3. Buckeye*

        There are nuances to conversation that determine whether or not something is obnoxious. To me, the key piece of mansplaining is that the man doesn’t have any authority or good knowledge in what he’s ‘splaining.

        For example, my husband works in healthcare and all of my knowledge of anatomy comes from a pitiful class in high school. He has given me useful information before about female anatomy. I never consider that to be mansplaining, nor would I if a male doctor were giving me advice. But a random guy telling me that I didn’t actually need to have a c-section because they are just schemes pushed by hospitals to make more money? That’s attempting to thwart my own first-hand experience and knowledge about my personal situation, which I clearly have the authoritative knowledge over.

        In regards to the placenta thing, I think it depends on the situation. If the woman in question asks your opinion on whether or not she should consume her placenta, then I think you’re justified in sharing what you know and what you have come to believe. If you’re just overhearing a conversation, I think anyone jumping in would come across as obnoxious.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Well, the key really isn’t as much about his knowledge as it is about his audience’s knowledge. A hypothetical random dude may legitimately know a lot about a subject, but if he rolls in like the woman he’s talking to a) knows much less about it than he does and b) is desperate to hear all about his thoughts on it.

          1. Julia*

            I think the key is, does the audience WANT his knowledge? Because I think the unsolicited part is a big factor in mansplaining.

        2. Mike C.*

          So just to add some context here, these discussions are occurring in the comment threads of mainstream news sites (BBC, NPR) or on the sites of medical/scientific organizations, like the CDC. So I guess technically everyone is jumping in with opinions.

      4. fposte*

        In addition to what people saying, I think it’s important to be thoughtful about the difference between having the information that consuming placenta isn’t advantageous and needing to *tell* somebody that consuming placenta isn’t advantageous. I speak as somebody who has a very hard time letting misinformation go myself, but not every situation requires my input, even if I do have better information than or more experience with what’s being said.

        1. mediumofballpoint*

          Seconded. An unexpressed opinion is an thing of beauty and we would probably all do well to collect more of them.

      5. Beckie*

        I think that unless you’re an ob/gyn offering advice in a professional context, you should probably not share your thoughts on medical practices that only apply to women. You’re not qualified to offer professional advice (and even most ob/gyns don’t dispense unasked-for advice in a social setting), and you don’t have any lived experience on the matter.

    5. mrs__peel*

      My favorite example of that was a class where the instructor asked people to raise their hands if they were “an expert” in regard to breastfeeding. Even though several of the women in the class had breastfed their own babies, none of them raised their hands. But one cis man did, because his wife had done it a couple of years earlier.

      (I can’t remember where I read about that, but it was in a magazine article on this topic).

    6. KR*

      Ugh I remember being a teenager and wanting to stay home from school because of the first day of my period, which causes me an upset stomach, joint pain, of course cramps, feeling flushed/sweaty/hot like I have a fever, and other general flu type symptoms. He told me, “You won’t be able to stay home sick every month when you’re an adult. You have to learn to deal.” Well actually dad, I earn paid sick time. If I want to stay home I can. And also I can’t just learn to deal with this it HURTS.

  11. Happy Friday*

    This podcast was well-timed. Following my topic in last Friday’s open thread, I think where things get murky is when your knowledge levels of a particular topic are unequal, with the MAN being more knowledgeable in it.

    So let’s say you both have a very good understanding of a technical area, but he has more experience in the application of it. However, when he talks to you, he frequently includes unnecessary, usually long explanations of really basic concepts. Basically, he talks to you as if you have very little to no knowledge of the subject. When is it a case of mansplaining, and when is it a case of a technical person simply not knowing what level of information to share with a less technical person?

    1. fposte*

      I think that’s a grey area. I would say it’s a tendency that may be gendered (at least in my experience, women tend to be better socialized to the needs of communication and not just the sharing of information) but isn’t necessarily mansplaining.

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      I think it’s a pattern of behavior and not a single incidence. By definition, a mansplainer treats people differently by gender, so look for that.

    3. SoCalHR*

      I would suggest getting very specific in your questions and perhaps even saying “I understand xyz, but how does that look in situation b…” that way the person knows where to start the explanation. If he is answering a question you didn’t ask, that’s a tale tale sign of mansplaining. But your situation in general is a little tricky.

    4. Q without U*

      If you stop him to say that you’re familiar with the background and only need information about the specific thing, and he proceeds to ignores your own assessment of you knowledge and abilities, it’s probably mansplaining.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I have taken to heatedly telling my husband that I do indeed know why advertisers look at demographic information before buying ads.

        There are many things I don’t know and I ask him, but sometimes he just rattles off as if I don’t even know the basics.

        I think I’m realizing that I often don’t know the facts or the history, but he explains the process–and I don’t need that.

    5. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant*

      Yeah, I encountered this in my PhD program. I was in a class with a guy who was a year or so more advanced than me, and our areas of interest had a lot of overlap. Whenever there was an exchange between the two of us in that class, he would end up arguing against a strawman version of me who knew nothing about our area of specialization, instead of responding to what I actually said. So this is not canonical mansplaining, because he actually did know more than me. Just not THAT much more. (Plus, I seemed to be the only person he did it to, i.e. it wasn’t his default way of interacting with women.)

      But in a way, it doesn’t matter if it’s “really” mansplaining or not — how I could have answered that question doesn’t have an effect on what I could do to stop it. (Which, in either case, is not much — if I had complained or called out the behavior, either in public or in private, it would only have made me seem defensive, hostile, and/or unhinged.) Knowing that men talking down to women is a thing in our culture is useful; deciding on the individual level whether this man is talking down to this woman in that way, or if he’s “merely” being condescending in the way that can happen between two men (even in the absence of other -isms), may not be so useful.

      Anyway, yeah. Like Alison said, the more knowledgeable person should be actually listening to the words that their interlocutor is saying, in order to gauge what they need to explain and what they don’t.

    6. Sue Wilson*

      if he wouldn’t do it to a guy with a similar level of knowledge (and perceived intelligence), it’s mansplaining. unfortunately, it’s best to treat these things a single interactions unless you see a gendered disparity.

    7. dr_silverware*

      It’s an interesting case, but here’s the issue–what’s annoying about mainsplaining isn’t that people are hearing “I know more than you,” it’s that they’re hearing “your perspective is unimportant and I’m not even considering it.”

      So the most outrageous example of mansplaining–the Solnit example, where she says, “yeah, I wrote the book about Muybridge that you’re trying to explain to me,” and gets ignored, is the most flagrant example of that disrespect and sheer lack of listening.

      On the milder side, I think you can break it down into categories. Explaining that might be welcome, but not at this time and you fail to see that it’s the wrong time because you’re not empathizing with the other’s situation; explaining something that the other person knows; explaining something irrelevant without understanding the conversation enough to know that it’s irrelevant.

      For example, say you’ve made a cosplay of a very specific superhero costume from issue 150 of a comic, and you’re talking about the construction of the costume. Another person joins the conversation by explaining a different costume that the superhero wore once, that you don’t know about; that person knows more than you, and it’s theoretically relevant, but it’s not the conversation for it.

      Basically it’s not about the amount of detail–it’s about not taking the time or energy to listen or to consider the other person’s perspective, what they may know already, and what’s relevant to the conversation.

    8. Someone else*

      If the person in theory should know that the recipient knows SOMETHING but reasonably isn’t sure how much, if the person at some point says “Stop me if I’m telling you things you already know” or equivalent, it’s probably a case of a technical person simply not knowing what level of info to share with a less technical person.
      If the person reasonably has no idea if the recipient knows anything or, same as above, but cut a little more slack.
      If the technical person very clearly assumes the recipient knows nothing and makes zero effort to ascertain if that’s the case, they’re probably mansplaining.

      Alison put it very well in the podcast when she noted a major indicator is if the ‘splainer is steamrolling. If so, red flag.

  12. Anon For This Post*

    I am also a recovering mansplainer – I grew up in an ultra-conservative family (parents say that they would never vote for a woman for president, even if they agreed with all of that woman’s views.) and was raised to believe that women are less intelligent than men. I realized how screwed up their views are when I was a teenager and am still recovering from some of the effects of their views on my actions (as in I don’t even realize I’m doing something condescending until someone calls me out.) I am now married to a woman who is smarter than me, and have almost completely gotten rid of the mansplaining from my actions (you’d be surprised how easy it is to fall back into that pattern as someone who was raised in it.) I just want to say that as a first generation progressive, I feel sympathy for those in the same position as me: those who grew up in a screwed up environment, who have progressed by accepting ideas that do not belong to their parents, and who will on a rare occasion fall back into old bad habits and need called out.

    1. Savannnah*

      So I think this is a great reflection on your part about how far you’ve come but I want to point out that we all grow up in the patriarchy and so your struggle might seem more overt but lots of men have similar covert feelings/impulses as you did/do. (similar to how most white people grew up in a racist society and have racist thoughts at times but it doesn’t always reflect their intentions ) I think by not just being comfortable with being called out from time to time but using your sympathy and awareness to call other guys out is a great way to actively address these issues going forward. I wish you luck!

    2. Triple Anon*

      Great comment! I also come from a conservative background and have since been working to get rid of the negative baggage associated with it.

      I also get condescended to a lot. As someone who’s seen both sides of that dynamic, I get that it isn’t always intentional. Sometimes it’s taught. Sometimes it’s just social awkwardness (explaining things to make conversation), and, of course, there are some people who intentionally try to be jerks.

      I try to put myself in the other person’s shoes, assume good intent, and be nice about it at first. “That’s really nice of you! I actually teach this subject. But that’s a good way of explaining it. I’ll keep it in mind to share with my students.” Or something like that. Life is one big learning experience. And of course, if they’re mean after being kindly corrected, I walk away!

      1. Reba*

        Oh, I have had the chance to say “Oh yeah, when I teach this subject I usually blah blah blah”! It was not a severe ‘splaining situation but that was really satisfying.

  13. BRR*

    I loved this episode. I’m a man and worry about mansplaining especially when I’m not sure what base knowledge the other person has. There is a lot of advice here that I’m going to adopt.

    1. PSB*

      Yeah, this is a tough one and the specific suggestions here are extremely helpful. In my job there are lots of opportunities to cross this line without meaning to, but the intent doesn’t change the result. It’s one of those things where “not trying to” isn’t the same as “trying not to.”

  14. Nicole*

    I think a lot of it is are you turning the conversation into a lecture, is the conversation no longer sharing of opinions and thoughts, and now the person you’re talking to is just stuck there listening. When you embark on an explanation did you assume that the person didn’t already know the information or did they ask you? I say things like “In my opinion” or “In my experience” and then ask questions of the other person. And I never assume I know more than someone else, you never know their whole life experience/education.

    My husband is an over-explainer and sometimes it crosses into the mansplaining area. He toned it down many years ago when I started pointing it out to him. In his case, he just likes showing people how smart he is, he wants people to know that he is a smart person. He doesn’t assumes the person he is talking to is a moron (but it certainly seems that way!). For him, I think it comes from a bit of insecurity and wanting to be helpful.

    On the other hand, the biggest over-explainer I know is a woman (sorry, slightly off topic from the mansplainers). She turns every conversation into a lecture, even on the most basic common knowledge things. She’s extremely condescending. I think it’s also because of insecurity, but I’m pretty certain she thinks everyone is a moron too.

    I think the caller in the podcast today is probably not a habitual mansplainer. I’m really curious what is the thinking behind the behavior. Are you just insecure? Do you think you are actually intellectually superior and need to do women a favor by lecturing them? Are you just failing at reciprocal conversation?

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      ‘I’m really curious what is the thinking behind the behavior. Are you just insecure? Do you think you are actually intellectually superior and need to do women a favor by lecturing them? Are you just failing at reciprocal conversation?”

      I’m not the OP and not answering specifically for him, but I think that often when men do this they’re, consciously or not, trying to inhabit the role (knowledgeable, in-charge, competent, etc.) that men have been socialized to see as the ideal.

      1. fposte*

        I also think sometimes it’s not just that they believe themselves to be the authority but they feel that there’s a vacuum in a conversation or discussion space if *nobody’s* claiming that authority. In that case, it’s similar to being the kind of person who feels obliged to say something when the teacher’s question leaves the room silent–the difference being that somebody really does have to talk in the classroom, but a conversation can proceed just fine without anybody climbing up on the rock and being King of the Castle.

        1. biobottt*

          That kind of does sound like what the interviewee was describing about his response to hesitation from people he’s in conversation is. Apparently he’s not comfortable unless someone’s taking on an “expert” role, even if the “expert” is totally unknowledgeable and completely wrong.

        2. Nicole*

          True, true. Good points. My husband, who sometimes mansplains, does want to take on the role of being the knowledgable, in charge, competent one.

          I do want to clarify though, I should have worded my last part differently (don’t want to sound too harsh towards the OP). I don’t think the OP sounds like a habitual mansplainer, he seems pretty self-aware, or at least enough to start modifying his behavior. I was generally wondering what the thought was behind those that do the behavior regularly and think it is totally acceptable. They probably don’t consider themselves mansplainers and wouldn’t respond to Alison’s request *shrug*

      2. Glowcat*

        I think there are two “subspecies”: the ones who want to be admired for their knowledge and the ones who simply can’t stand a woman being smarter or more educated than them. But they probably both relate to insecurity.

  15. Leela*

    OP major props for you for considering this in general but especially considering the implications of race/class! It’s an important step that often gets lost.

    I’ll say that AAM is dead on here and women can give you many examples in a very short and recent timeframe, and we all hate it. However, I take it differently from someone I find to be a good person than I do from someone I think is outright sexist or difficult, even if I find it problematic in both cases. I think you showed great awareness by bringing up the fact that it’s not necessarily (at least not in modern contexts, whatever the term was coined to mean) just when a man knows less about something than the women he’s speaking to but whether that knowledge is necessary or welcome.

    My father-in-law will trap me in a car for half-hour or more lectures about teapot manufacturing, a topic I do not care about in the least, and he’ll talk about it in ways that I could not possibly contribute to or be a part of, I am to just sit silently and soak up his wisdom. It’s exhausting, useless to me, and I don’t want my time and energy to be used that way even though he knows far more about teapot manufacturing than I ever will.

    Thank you so much for agreeing to do this podcast, and thanks to AAM for some amazing input as always!

  16. SierraSkiing*

    Yesterday a guy started mansplaining avocados in the breakroom. It was pretty spectacular.
    Young female employee: *takes lunch, including avocado, out of fridge*
    Older male employee: *eyes light up* “Oooh, do you know the trick to keep avocadoes fresh?
    Female employee: “Yes, actually.”
    Male employee: “Well, if you keep the pit in the half that you’re storing, you can wrap it up that way and it stays fresher. You can also…”

    He continued his avocado treatise for the next five minutes, at least until I departed the kitchen with my tea.

    1. Sabine the Very Mean*

      I’d be tempted to put a hand up and say, oh you must’ve heard No when I actually said Yes.

    2. AnotherJill*

      I thing that people, particularly women, are over-conditioned to be polite in cases like this. I think this is a good opportunity for asking “what part of ‘yes, actually’ did you not understand?”. Politely, of course :).

    3. Sarah*

      I had a maybe 22 year old cashier explain to me how to not get hungover. I hoped he had some miracle trick that was cheaper than the one I was buying (two bottles of Pedialyte, ibuprofen, and Pepto) and he carried on before I could say anything to tell me the trick is to drink water.

      Gee. Really?

      1. fposte*

        This is where I get caught! I assume that they’re speaking out of having the level of knowledge *I* would need to have before I spoke out, so I think “Oh, they know something!” but it turns out they just think nobody else knows the alphabet.

      2. Evan Þ.*

        Well, I guess drinking water would be cheaper?

        (I infer that it doesn’t work, though, so not much of a miracle.)

    4. paul*

      *That* sounds like a perfect situation to go with “Well, actually..”

      Too bad stuff like that’s always easier to think of 3-4 days later :/

  17. A Man*

    And with that, i’m done with AAM. This whole topic is sexist… Men, and Women do this and your attempt to demonize a gender is unfortunate.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There’s no demonizing going on here (and that’s said explicitly on the show); it’s a discussion of a type of gendered behavior that disproportionately affects women. But it’s definitely true that if you’re bothered by discussions of how gender and sexism can play out at work, this is not a good site for you!

      1. anon4now*

        I think the issue “A Man” is referring to is seeing women complain about how ignorant men talk down to them and then to coin a cutesy term out of it…it’s not stopping “mansplaining” (the men you’re targeting with the term probably don’t care) and lays an unwarranted guilt trip on genuinely nice guys who may just have a tendency to overshare when excited or ramble too much.
        The gendering name of this term paints a broad negative bias against all men, not just the men that mansplain. It discounts the men who helped women to achieve equal rights in the U.S. or have always regarded women as equals.
        But that’s just my opinion, and maybe I’m mansplaining now? =(

        1. Anonchivist*

          I’m not linking you snarkily, but:

          tl;dr someone’s emotional reaction to my assertion of agency and humanity as a woman is not my problem. if a black person told me that I was engaging in racist behavior I would not cry and tell them how insulted I am. I would thank them for doing the emotional labor and taking the risk of calling me out. I hope you learn something positive from this :)

        2. Anonchivist*

          Why should women consider the feelings of a man behaving oppressively towards them? I’ve engaged in racist behaviors before, and I was lucky to have a black friend present who called me out on that. It felt horrible, but that’s because I was dehumanizing someone, not because someone called me racist. If I had started crying about how mean she was guess what? I would have dehumanized her AND demanded her emotional labor.

          Call outs and discussions like these are an act of time, energy, labor, and love. Because everyone can do and be better. (Also, women owe men no gratitude for asserting our humanity. Please aim higher)

        3. sfigato*

          I’m always wary of a gender or ethnic identity being used in a pejorative sense, even if it is allegedly punching up. And i think mansplaining can be used in a sexist way at times. but i also think it is a pretty prevalent thing, at least in the u.s., and it really has a lot to do with how men are socialized. women can totally be condescending bloviators, but mansplaining is a pretty specifically male thing, which i say as a man. Even though the term gets my back up a bit, I just ignore it and try not to embody it.

    2. fposte*

      I don’t know if you’re new, but we’ve also had plenty of conversations about the way women’s socialization hurts them in the workplace; it seems pretty reasonable to be able to talk about it with men to me as well. What do you think?

      1. finderskeepers*

        His last name is “Man” and his first initial is “A”

        (a topical reference to Crichton’s book Disclosure)

        1. Parenthetically*

          Gasp! Reba! A Man(TM) would never show his true emotions. That’s for us feeemayles.

          1. strawberries and raspberries*

            Doing the disguising laughter with coughing thing again, and it’s not working…

      2. Strawmeatloaf*

        Let us fall before and worship “A Man” who deigned to come and comment on here because he failed to grasp what was actually being talked about.

        Seriously though, it’s sort of like saying “Most men” and a man going “but (a very small minority of) womenz do this too! We cannot talk about one subject because that clearly means we are ignoring the other!”

        I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again, people can concentrate on food deserts here in the U.S. while still trying to stop child soldiers elsewhere in the world. It’s not an EITHER/OR situation. It’s just in this particular instance, we are talking about ONE of them.

    3. Hills to Die on*

      Alison, did you KNOW that you were demonizing an entire gender? Really, someone should explain this to you….I can’t think of who, but I’m sure there’s someone…

      1. KR*

        Maybe A Man would be up to the task! He just seems so knowledgable. I wish my delicate female sensibilities let me be that clear headed.

          1. saffytaffy*

            Can anybody link me to the big bust-up Steve had with Alison? Or even give me clues about what the letter was about?

  18. caryatis*

    I think part of the way to avoid lecturing/mansplaining is to focus on other conversational modes, like active listening or asking questions of others. It’s hard though, because asking questions of others feels so intrusive. I am a woman, and still, my default mode of conversation is sharing information or opinions in a straightforward way, which can come off as lecturing if the other person isn’t used to that sort of conversation.

    1. finderskeepers*

      “because asking questions of others feels so intrusive.” Sigh, just can’t win. Making declaratory statements is mansplaining. Making interrogatory questions is instrusive. Better just go back to tinder.

      1. Kelly L.*

        If tinder is an adequate substitute for whatever you’re doing at work, then you need to resign from the Duck Club.

      2. Buckeye*

        FWIW, I think most people only find questions intrusive if they’re needlessly personal.

        If a male coworker asks me “do you know how to download the software update?” before showing me something in the tool, I just see that as him making sure we’re on the same page. Totally appropriate. Not intrusive or indicative of mansplaining to come.

        If he asks me “do you know how to turn your computer on?” when we both work office jobs…while I still wouldn’t find it intrusive, I would think it was pretty condescending.

      3. biobottt*

        She just said asking questions feels intrusive, not that it IS intrusive. What offends you about someone speaking of their own experience?

  19. tutti*

    “So they agree they might be overbearing or patronising but don’t necessarily see that that’s a problem.”

    Hmmmm, “Let me explain to you why “mansplaining” is not actually a thing or if it is, why it is not actually a problem.”

    Mansplaining is definitely real but being overbearing and patronizing IS a problem whether it’s gendered or not, ffs.

    1. pancakes*

      I raised my eyebrows at that line. Do they admire people who are overbearing or patronizing? Do they just not care? Odd.

  20. Earthwalker*

    So if a woman is condescending but technically she can’t mansplain, and technically she can’t be patronizing either, does that mean she’s matronizing?

    1. McWhadden*

      I think we can use patronizing for women. Words evolve past their very literal meanings.

    2. Squeeble*

      I just call it mansplaining regardless of who’s doing it because it defines a very specific type of condescension.

    3. biobottt*

      Definition of patronizing: showing or characterized by a superior attitude towards others : marked by condescension

      Why can’t a woman “technically” be patronizing?

    4. Student*

      This comment reads to me as:
      “I cannot engage on the subject matter at hand and I am uncomfortable with it. Instead of lurking, or just going to a different thread I do like, I will try to force other people to assuage my discomfort and feed my ego by diverting people’s attention to how clever my word-smything is with a pun!”


      1. Earthwalker*

        Sorry, I didn’t mean my comment to be negative. But you are right. I’m a woman who fears perhaps she’s condescending at times.

    5. Temperance*

      I’ve only heard that word used by redpillers and MRAs who refuse to admit that sexism is a thing, so …

  21. Justin*

    Kudos to the caller. I was called for this by my wife and a colleague at two separate times, and I was all BUT NO I CANNOT BE FOR I AM EQUAL TREATER OF and then I stopped and listened and now I really try to rein it in. I think a lot of folks might do this because they aren’t so much trying to put others down as thinking, as said above, aha I can help by offering my thoughts, without stopping to consider if said thoughts are needed or wanted.

    So I try to do that now.

    And wow all the comments. Let’s be clear: mentioning gender/race/whatever does not make a term/phrase discriminatory by itself. And yes, mansplaining is real, and the people who are just so sure it cannot be a thing are probably doing it, the way I work not to do so.

    1. fposte*

      I think that’s a beautiful encapsulation of why this can be hard for people who are good at avoid basic sexism and why it’s hard for anybody on the progressive side to grapple with their own weaknesses. You start with the “But I’m a person who does things right, so it can’t be wrong!” And it’s really hard to step back and go “Oh, just because I mean well doesn’t mean I don’t do things crappily sometimes.”

    2. zora*

      Thank you, Justin, for questioning your own assumptions and trying to do better. It’s hard for all of us, but it will make the world a better place! and thanks for sharing!

  22. Elena*

    Oy. Doesn’t anybody find the fixation with “mansplaining” as a social issue a bit tiresome? Isn’t the expectation that men self-police out of concern for female sensibilities at least a little problematic?

    Sure, I hate being condescended to. It sucks when an arrogant bloviator gets rewarded. But there are well-documented and effective strategies for dealing with these cases on the individual level.

    When you start viewing it as a gender issue, and looking for gender undertones in every male-female interaction, you are guaranteed to interpret things adversarially when they are not, or at least to exaggerate the degree.

    1. Reba*

      Well, it’s not “female sensibilities,” it’s being good at interacting with other humans, period.

      And for that to happen it’s good to point out patterns that prevent the above from happening reasonably equitably.

      The individual level happens in a social context.

    2. Captain S*

      No, I actually get tired of defending a word that accurately describes what women experience on a frequent basis. And if we demand that we only deal with this on an individual level we miss the opportunity to have larger conversations about patterns of gender bias a lot of women experience and men perpetrate (often without even knowing it).

      And I don’t love having to police every conversation I have an explain this crap to men all the time. My male friends know the term “mansplaining” because of conversations like these, and I’ve told a few of them they’re doing it. Being able to say “that was a little mansplainey” is far more effective and efficient than having to go through this phenomenon with every dude because society refuses to discuss it writ large.

      If you’re tired of discussing it, I suggest you read different articles.

    3. Murphy*

      Eh, if the problem is that men are condescending to women, I think the ideal solution is that men stop doing it, not that women learn how to deal with it.

      The ultimate consequence of this kind of behavior is the silencing of female voices, so it’s about a lot more than women’s feelings.

    4. anna green*

      I feel like this is a typical response to this sort of issue. Saying its just an individual problem because 1 particular person is an arrogant bloviator. And thats something that people can say until forever if taken on a case by case basis. But when will it be acceptable to call it a pattern? Truly, how much evidence does one need to accept that? This is true in lots of different contexts. You can always blame one person, but eventually the pattern should be apparent and its a societal issue.

    5. JokersandRogues*

      Why would expecting men to self-monitor themselves for gender bias be an unreasonable expectation? And just like any other learning curve, it will be difficult and steep at first, but it gets easier over time. The fact that it may be difficult at times doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done in the interest of leading to a more equal society.
      And, by the nature of our society, many interactions are in fact governed by gender-based roles.

    6. Strawmeatloaf*

      You don’t think women don’t police themselves? We’ve been taught to do that our entire lives by society. We have to watch all of our words in case they are taken the “wrong” way by someone else (usually men). We can try to say our opinion in conversations without seeming like we’re apologizing for it because otherwise we’re too “aggressive”.

      Why should women have to police themselves only?

      1. JokersandRogues*

        I was tempted to say that as well. Thank you for doing so. I was getting angry typing and stopped before I went on a rant. ;-) Speaking as a woman who was once called “insufficently subordinate”.

        1. Parenthetically*


          “You’re insufficiently subordinate.”

          “You’re goddamn right.”

          1. JokersandRogues*

            Yeah, he was pretty awful… I’m not even sure anymore what I had done, probably disagreed with him, although even when I was young , I tended to disagree politely.
            A male programmer at a later meeting straight up said to the guy listed referenced above that something “was the stupidest idea he had ever heard.” The programmer practiced Radical Honesty.

            1. Parenthetically*

              Maybe you’ve read his book, Radical Honesty: So You’d Like To Have An Excuse To Be An Asshole All The Time.

            2. Becky*

              I was re-reading Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch and he phrased it as
              “unthinking rudeness masquerading as blunt speaking”.

      2. seejay*

        I was *literally asked* to watch what I say at work so a male coworker would have less reason to stop losing his temper and blowing up at me because he was being a short-termpered wanknoodle. It wasn’t that I was saying anything out of line either, I was being asked to analyze and second-guess everything I was saying in order to not set him off.

        My response was “you literally just said to a wife ‘can you change your language so your husband stops hitting you’?”

        My coworker got pulled in for disciplinary action the next day and I didn’t have to “police my words”.

        So no, we don’t need to tell women to watch what they say just for the comfort of men.

        1. Maya Elena*

          Your example isn’t relevant because 1) the guy was blowing up at you, not mansplaining, and 2) it looks like the situation got handled appropriately and the coworker got disciplined.

          1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

            Seemed pretty relevant to the larger discussion of gendered interactions to me…

    7. Sue Wilson*

      I assure you plenty of women know that something is gendered (and that as a society in which gender matters, everything does rest on the social foundation that gender matters), and have avoided perpetual aggression and take a lot of interaction as shallowly as intended. We have to. We live in society too.

    8. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Ah yes, let’s totally ignore all larger patterns for anything! Society doesn’t exist, every individual acts in a vacuum!

    9. Rusty Shackelford*

      It sucks when an arrogant bloviator gets rewarded. But there are well-documented and effective strategies for dealing with these cases on the individual level.

      Ah, problem solved, then! Carry on.

    10. Temperance*

      Nope. It’s part of the patriarchy that keeps women from advancing. When a dude assumes that John is brilliant for repeating what Jane said, while feeling that Jane is aggressive and negative for pointing this out, that’s a Problem.

      It’s not an individual problem. It’s a societal one.

      Men *should* be self-policing on this subject.

    11. Parenthetically*

      Men need to start bloody self-policing, not out of concern for female sensibilities, but out of concern for the thriving of women and femmes in the world. Men are socialized to center their own voices, knowledge, and expertise. I couldn’t care less about their intentions, adversarial or otherwise, but I care a whole lot about the EFFECTS of mansplaining, and that’s the point. When women are made out to be pushy, bitchy, aggressive, and rude for insisting that our expert voices on a topic be heard above a man’s, that has measurable negative consequences for our lives, completely regardless of the intentions of any particular man.

    12. mrs__peel*

      No, I don’t find it “problematic” to expect men to be respectful, thoughtful, and considerate of others.

      Women are socialized basically from birth to consider other people’s feelings 24/7, and also to prioritize other people’s emotional states and comfort levels even to the detriment of our own well-being.

      This is fundamentally about a lack of respect for other people, which is not okay.

    13. Student*

      I have to watch what I say to men all the time to avoid offending their sensibilities. If a man feels threatened, angry, unhappy, aroused, or dismissive of things I say it can (and does) have negative career repercussions for me.

      Trivial example – asking a male colleague out for coffee. In my business, I have to vet the male colleague’s personality in advance, be really careful about how I phrase the request, and maybe bring along at least one other person, maybe show a clear and non-threatening agenda in advance. All this caution to avoid giving the guy the impression I am sexually interested in him, instead of just trying to socialize with a colleague for networking or platonic reasons. If I don’t do this, most of my male colleagues assume I am interested in a romantic relationship – and some colleagues will assume that even after I jump through all those hoops. And then I need to let them down, with no ambiguity but also without hurting their feeling badly enough that they lash out at me at work (or, occasionally, physically).

      So I don’t feel bad in the least about expecting men to act with the same caution when they speak with me that I have to observe every day when I speak to them.

    14. oranges & lemons*

      Don’t you think it’s also problematic (and ironically, a bit patronizing) to assume that the men who do this shouldn’t be held to a higher standard, and instead the women around them should do the work of managing their conversations for them? It seems relevant to a workplace advice blog to point out a dynamic that is keeping some men from communicating effectively at work and to offer suggestions for how to improve.

  23. Erin the librarian*

    I struggle a bit with librarian-splaining. I work with a poor, disenfranchised, usually under educated demographic, and I spend my entire work week being the most information- and technologically-competent person in the room. Then, when I’m not, I’ll accidentally start explaining things to people who don’t need it. I’ll also leap into Information Girl mode and if someone asks any question I tend to feel like it’s my role to answer it. I try hard to be self-aware and behave like the man on the podcast — I’ll have to start doing the “do you want to hear what I know?” thing going forward.

    Does anyone else in the information field find themselves dealing with this phenomenon?

    1. Tuxedo Cat*

      I used to teach. I usually try to flesh out what the students know, what they tried, and ask what they’d like help with.

    2. PSB*

      Yes, absolutely. As I said upthread, I’m an IT worker with a technical background who works on project teams with both technical and non-technical folks. Technical explanations are a frequent and legitimate part of my job, so it’s important that I stay conscious of how, when, and why that information is delivered. I work for a large medical center and it helps to keep my team semi-humble that we work with customer groups in equally complicated fields where we know nothing. I caught myself over-explaining something to a charge nurse in the burn ICU a few months ago…embarrassing. It’s a good constant reality check on getting too self important.

      One thing I’ve learned is to not only wonder whether someone already knows the information I have in mind, but also whether it’s helpful or if they’re interested at all. I find a lot of times in technical areas, people don’t care about the information and have no reason to. If a patient is entered into one system and automatically appears in another, does it help the user to know exactly how that happens? I’m trying to learn to just keep the technical details to myself until someone else expresses a need or an interest for it. Sometimes people do, and I’m happy to give them all the info I have. Most of the time, though, people just want the thing to work.

    3. Parenthetically*

      I’m a teacher, so ‘splaining of all kinds is my field. I really have to rein it in in other contexts — and I know I’ve come off as totally insufferable. Being aware of it is a first step, but the discipline to clam up and not go, “OOH I KNOW A THING ABOUT THIS THING” is a lot harder.

      Curiosity helps, as in being interested in your interlocutor as a person, and being just as keen to discover what they know as to tell them what you know. That doesn’t always have to come out as a balanced exchange in a setting where they’re asking for or need your assistance, but I think it’s a good mindset.

    4. mrs__peel*

      Not exactly the same, but (as an attorney) I do struggle with not trying to solve everyone’s problems for them. I think I always had that tendency, but it was exacerbated by going to law school and being trained to come up with and offer solutions.

      I have to remind myself that sometimes friends and family just need to vent and get a sympathetic ear, not “Well, I would suggest that you do [x]”. And just offer advice if they ask for it.

    5. and don't call me m'lady*

      I use two main tactics: 1, out myself as a librarian, and 2, give less than you’ve got and ask if they want more. So I might say “I’m used to teaching people who have never used a computer before, so stop me if I’m explaining things you already know!” or “I just read a great book about this! How interested are you? Since my ‘information faucet’ is on for 40 hours a week, it can be hard for me to turn it off…” etc. I think the big thing is to just be gracious and really receptive to feedback.

      Also, it’s really good for the soul to hang out with other curious people. Not saying you have to live in an ivory tower, but if your partner/roommates/whatever are not interested in that cool thing you learned today, join a book club or a discussion group where you can geek out.

      1. JanetM*

        One of my friends, who really does know quite a lot about quite a lot, uses the phrasing, “You have pulled the lever on the Bard-o-Matic; prepare for info dump in 3-2-1…”

        1. Glowcat*

          Fantastic!!! :D I used to say “the pedantic physicist in me says…” but I’m gonna steal that!

    1. Justin*

      I am sad I’ve been that guy (both oblivious and then awkwardly self-conscious).

      Hoping I can avoid the habit entirely going forward.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        You’re aware of and trying to curtail it. That’s a good start.

        (and I highly recommend watching the One Day at a Time reboot on Netflix to everyone)

    2. KR*

      Literally burst out laughing at my desk. Thank God my co-workers don’t mind me being absurd at work.

  24. Anonymeece*

    For me, mansplaining can be:

    1. You do not know what you are talking about. My brother one time was trying to tell me how a book was wrong… when he hadn’t read the book. He actually interrupted me to do this and I interrupted back and said, “How about we let the person who actually read the book speak?” and continued with my point. So if you don’t know something, start a conversation not with an opinion, but with questions. Instead of saying, “I believe X about this topic I know nothing about,” you can ask, “Oh! Interesting. What do you think about X? How does X respond to Y?”.

    2. You’re discounting women’s experiences. I’m so grateful for the #MeToo movement, but it’s also alarming that it took that many women for people to listen. So if twenty women (or even two) are telling you, “This happens,” don’t discount it because you haven’t experienced it. For one thing, you probably aren’t going to experience it, because by definition, it may happen to only women. For instance, if a woman gets passed over for a promotion because she’s a woman, you can’t say that it didn’t happen at all because you got a promotion, as a man.

    3. Be open to change. There was a thread up above about quoting scientific research and articles, and someone said to still tread carefully. I actually read – and citation needed on this, I’ll admit I need to look closer into this – that medical studies often focus on men, meaning that certain medications may affect women differently. In the same way, doctors often think women are exaggerating pain and don’t take them seriously. So there is still some give and take, even with things we take to be rock-solid.

    4. If you start a sentence, “Well, actually…”, pump the brakes, babycakes.

  25. Facepalm*

    I’m a woman with a name most people associate with men (although there have been a few famous women with this name, so it’s not unheard of), and I’ve actually had men try to mansplain MY OWN NAME to me. For instance, me: “Hi, my name is James/Steven.” Mansplainer: “Are you sure you don’t mean your name is Julie/Stephanie?” This has happened on many occasions. Not, “Oh, I’ve never heard that name for a woman” but basically “Are you sure you know your own name?” I have never ever had a woman do that.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        “Oh my gawd, you’re right! My name is Julie! I’m so stupid.” {smacks self upside the head}

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        “No, I’m not sure. I mean, I thought after 20+ years, I knew my name, but maybe I should check my ID to confirm.”

      3. Facepalm*

        When I was younger, I used to be more dumbfounded and kind of speechless. Now that I’m older and try not to take bullshit from bullshit men, my response is usually a scathing stare and something along the lines of “Yeah, I’m sure I know MY OWN NAME.” Sometimes if they’re especially obnoxious I just kind of give them an incredulous look and pointedly ignore them. I’ve had a lot of crazy experiences with men who can’t handle my name. For example, when I was in my early 20s, a sales guy at a tire shop watched me sign my receipt and said “You know that’s FORGERY, don’t you??” Etc etc ad nauseum.

    1. all aboard the anon train*

      I’ve had men try to mansplain the pronunciation of my very Polish last name on multiple occasions, as well as question me on whether I truly knew how to pronounce things in Polish. None of them ever spoke Polish. All of them eventually admitted to only speaking English.

    2. NaoNao*

      My guess is that they think you’re going by a nickname or version of your name and your “real” legal, given name is actually the feminine version. Coupled with a world class inability to believe anything that a woman says. Sigh.

    3. Stank-eyed girl*

      OMG! “Are you sure you actually know your actual name you silly woman?!” Priceless!

    4. Alex the Alchemist*

      Happened to me before as well (I go by my middle name, but some college stuff still has my first name on it). I went to pick up a package addressed to my middle name, and was told I had to be careful because there’s also an Alex MyLastName who’s a grad student, so I should make sure I get my stuff addressed correctly.

      …I AM Alex MyLastName who’s a grad student. It’s a small school. I would know if there was another Alex MyLastName.

  26. RUKiddingMe*

    “…having an opinion about things I don’t necessarily know much about.”

    “I notice this dynamic happens even with super smart female friends…”

    “…not all of my male friends agree with that, and they feel reluctant to see the world, or the effects of their interactions, in gendered terms.”

    “…they might be overbearing or patronising but don’t necessarily see that that’s a problem.”

    —Manspalining in a nutshell.

  27. Glowcat*

    In my experience, mansplainers will start with “actually…” or “I just have to clarify one thing of what you say”… and then will start babbling about something irrelevant to the point, and say something usually very basic or very wrong. They would look for whatever they can find to criticize you and would dismiss your answers, if they even let you answer. They would not bother to inquire about your level/field of expertise because they don’t want to help you, they want to show off how smart they are.
    But I would say the OP is not a mansplainer, just because a “real mansplainer” would never understand he is one, even less admit it! :)

    1. Chameleon*

      Ugh, this is my husband’s major fault. I have a freaking PhD in biology, and he doesn’t know what a protein is. But he still will wait until I say something that contradicts what he has heard and will jump in with “Actually…”

      No, guy. No.

      1. Glowcat*

        Yeah, I had some pretty heated discussions with my boyfriend when we were at the beginning of the relationship; I still remember that night when he tried to convince me that the Big Bang theory was wrong, and I was like “yes, maybe, but you just read things online and I am an astronomer”.
        What I found really baffling is that he admitted to have fallen in love with me when I said “playing pool reminds me of nuclear physics” and we met at a IT club, so it’s not that he didn’t recognize my brain; he had probably just never thought over it.
        But I’m proud to say that he quickly got better, so there are at least some men who will be willing to change their views if they meet the right woman.

  28. Allison*

    I really like your advice to ask before providing a lot of information. I’ve definitely encountered people who love info dumping, and they think everyone must love it as much as they do, or at least should love it because learning is always awesome, and some of them get really mad when you try to tell them that no, actually, that’s not everyone’s idea of a fun conversation and that’s okay. So asking “is it okay if I rant for a minute?” or “I really wanna info dump on this topic, is that okay?” can make a huge difference. Just acknowledging that that’s what you’re doing, and it’s because you want to talk about the topic, rather than doing it because you think the person needs to be educated (which leads them to wonder “why does this person, who barely knows me at all, think I don’t know this already?”), can change a person’s perception of what you’re telling them.

  29. PSB*

    Ooooh, here’s a question for everyone, prompted by Anonymeece’s point about “Well, actually…” What would be the BEST way to introduce a correction when (1) the other person has factually incorrect information, and (2) the inaccuracy matters? There’s probably not a perfect way, or maybe even a good way, but what’s the best of what’s possible? “Well actually” understandably sets people off. Obviously tone and timing is important, but what’s a better choice of words that could be used in the moment, if necessary?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      “My understanding is” or “My experience is” or “From what I read/saw/heard”

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I don’t know if any of these would be better…

      “You know, that’s a common misconception/a lot of people think that, but it’s not correct.” (particularly when someone starts quoting urban legends)
      “Wait, you said the melting point of chocolate is 350 degrees? That’s not true…”
      “I’m sorry* to interrupt, but I have to point out that the melting point of chocolate is not 350 degrees…” (*only say “sorry” if you’re actually interrupting)
      “Excuse me, Fred, I need to make a correction to something you said…”

      But sometimes “actually” is just the best word to use. I think it’s okay as long as you don’t start of with “well actually…”

      “Fred, the melting point of chocolate is actually 100 degrees, not 350.”

    3. Lehigh*

      Generally I go with “I think”/”I don’t think”

      As in: “I don’t think the bus stops here. That bus sign across the street looks just like the one in the guidebook, let’s go over there.” Or, “I think mixing this medication with alcohol is really dangerous. The doctor told me it could kill me.”

      Then again, that’s because I’ve been socialized to use softening words to make my statements inoffensive.

      1. Becky*

        I tend to only use “I think”/”I don’t think” when I’m either unsure or there really is an opinion dimension to it. If it is something that I know for solid fact I don’t soften it. “This is where the green line picks up, the blue line stop is around the corner” to use your bus example.

        I haven’t had negative reactions to it, but I also have been lucky enough to never have encountered a mansplainer in my professional life. I work in the software industry which is highly male dominated but have been really lucky that none of them seem to be inclined to this.

        It might be worth giving it a try to re-train that softening impulse. Maybe around friends/family first?

        I’ll still use that softening language when appropriate–such as I don’t actually know, or I don’t want to contradict someone’s experience/feelings.

    4. NW Mossy*

      I tend to use something along the line of asking for clarification, in conjunction with a statement that I understand it to be X. Using Rusty’s example, I’d say something like “Can we clarify that? I understood that the melting point of chocolate is 100 degrees, not 350 degrees.” This construction seems to work pretty well because it doesn’t directly accuse the person of being wrong, but does call out that the information they’re providing isn’t consistent with what you know.

      To the extent that it’s appropriate in context, you could also follow it up with a statement of why the inaccuracy poses a problem, such as “if we base our recipe on 350 degrees, people following it will burn their chocolate and be frustrated that it didn’t turn out right.”

    5. Overeducated*

      I used to encounter this a lot, and I would say “thanks” or “how interesting” or something, and then “another interesting thing I’ve [read in source] is this fact.” I basically would directly correct them without using the language of contradiction – “and” instead of “no.” I was a young woman explaining stuff to older patrons who could complain to management so keeping it nonconfrontational was important.

    6. Glowcat*

      I think the trick is to make it subjective. If you start with “I think”, “If I remember well” or equivalent you won’t be perceived as if you were trying to impose an absolute truth over the other person’s experience. In addition, you will also have an escape way if it turns out *you* are the one in the wrong.

  30. Bobstinacy*

    Mansplaining, while annoying, is always just one facet of the unpleasant experiences I have with men where they fall into the pattern of treating me like a Woman rather than a Person.

    I get it, to a certain extent. Humans are tribal; we have our in-groups and out-groups, and right now one of the groups it’s easiest to align ourselves with is ‘gender’. Men and women both spend our whole lives being fed bad information about each other and ourselves, then it’s shocking to everyone when we don’t get along.

    But man it’s so frustrating when I, a grown ass person, try to interact with men as equals and get treated like a soft, silly, pretty accessory to their life. Suddenly all my strengths, expertise, humour, and experiences mean nothing because a man can’t see past his own flawed heuristics.

    And I can’t TELL them they’re treating me like that, because they haven’t learned to take women seriously so I’m just gonna get called sensitive/hormonal/crazy etc.

    For any men who are worried about mansplaining, thanks! Legit we need men on the front lines helping other men unlearn all this horrible stuff society’s shoved in our brains. But eliminating mansplaining is just taking care of one symptom.

    Remember when you talk to women that they’ve had a life like yours; that they’re already a full and complete person before you entered the scene. Their inner life is just as rich, with a whole history of experiences that have informed their opinions, beliefs, and relationships with others. Listen to what they say and hear their ideas before writing them off.

    Also please give us a real handshake. I can’t even with the noodly, tip of the fingers grab and cradle that some men give to women.

    1. Glowcat*

      “then it’s shocking to everyone that we don’t get along” yes!!! I notice this too, and it’s really worrying me that everything is turning into a war of genders and that we are told to put everyone into a stereotype instead of looking at each person’s uniqueness; I really hate those “researches” that say “men behave that way, women are that way” because they deny personal preferences and discourage people from trying to understand each other.
      I totally agree with what you said!

  31. and don't call me m'lady*

    I’m the director of a library and a woman. I once hired a young man who had no library experience of any kind. During his 2nd or 3rd week on the job, he very proudly informed me that you could buy BOOKS on the INTERNET!! I have no idea how he thought we were doing it… Ordering from the Scholastic book order forms they send home from school? Calling someone on the phone and having them read blurbs to us aloud?

    Our IT guy also explained to me that our USB keyboards could be plugged into any computer, even if it wasn’t the computer they came with! Buddy, USB technology has existed since 1998. The need for you to explain it to people probably died about the time you retired your JNCO jeans.

    The vast majority of men I’ve worked with are not this way at all, but the ones who are mansplainers are seriously ridiculous.

  32. Student*

    I think a lot of the focus on man-splaining approaches it from the entirely wrong angle to ever solve the problem. We won’t get anywhere if we keep trying to tackle it this way.

    So much of the discussion on it focuses on how it makes the woman feel like her colleague thinks she is incompetent. I agree! I understand. I’ve been there; I’m with you on that.

    However, trying to tell men that it makes you feel bad when they do this won’t fix the problem. First off, most of us can’t manage that in the moment, for good or for ill, because of our own temperament, plus a career need to have a good work relationship with the man in question. Congrats to the handful of you who get in an really insightful, sharp zinger that embarrasses your colleague into not doing this without negatively impacting yourself professionally – but you’re outliers.

    I think that, to solve the problem, we have to look at what men stand to gain from this behavior. Then we have to take that away and replace it with something (1) that we can usually manage (2) that doesn’t have bigger negative impact on us than the man-splaining. Those two conditions mean the solution is probably not going to be an insightful zinger to embarrass our colleague. The long-term solution might need to be something that still gives the man some sort of reward for interacting with us, but re calibrates the interaction to something more beneficial to us.

    What does the man gain from doing this? It varies, but here’s a couple things I’ve observed:
    -He gets perceived as someone knowledgeable about the subject matter
    -He gets the attention of a woman
    -He gets listened to for a long time
    -He gets to feel like he’s helping a woman

    As far as motivations go, those aren’t completely bad – though I can’t emphasize enough that the man-splaining manifestation is a bad result for us, the women involved. We can work with those motivations, though, to get someplace better.

    Instead of trying to blow up the man-splaining conversation, I propose to subvert it more to our benefit, using a couple of techniques. Because we are trying to maintain good career connections for ourselves, and avoid doing something dramatic/unfriendly/pointed because we in general don’t actually enjoy doing that and don’t do it well, we won’t try to cut the guy off at the rhetorical knees, much as he deserves it. Instead, we will try to gain something for ourselves while still making him feel good about the whole conversation – so he gets some of what he wants in that list of motivations, but we get more of what we want. Again, though, this isn’t for his sake, it’s ultimately for ours. And this set of techniques is for people who are on your level or above you, not for use with subordinates.

    Techniques to change the conversation to our benefit:
    – Maintain it as a conversation instead of allowing it to become the man-splaining monologue:
    cut in every three or four sentences (once per mental paragraph or major conversation point).
    – Ask in-depth questions about what he’s saying – even if you already know the answer – to keep it as a dialogue instead of a monologue.
    – Ask in-depth questions on stuff you don’t know about. He’s talkative; try to get some insider info from him once the conversation is rolling. This might be on stuff tangential to the subject – ask about one of his colleagues or his projects or how business on something is going or who he recommends as an expert in some other subject. Not malicious insider info – networking info.
    – Bring up an anecdote (preferably short, funny, and/or absurd) about experiences you have on the subject.
    – Try an elevator pitch for something you care about on him. Even if you don’t care about his particular opinion, it might give you feedback on how your pitch is so you can hone it before you give it to somebody that matters more.
    – Offer some advice of your own
    – Start talking about your own neat projects/accomplishments/observations
    – Ask him about his experiences that led him into this subject, and then offer up some of your own.

    Yeah, this sometimes means giving him more credit than he’s due and playing a bit dumb. That’s not ideal! But, I submit that it’s always better than letting him use you as a sounding board for his own greatness, and better in the long term for you than bashing him over the head with your own expertise. Most of these are still going to let him feel important and listened to and like he’s helping you, so he’ll hopefully walk away from the conversation without wanting to lash out at you professionally. Many of these also demonstrate your humanity to him in some way – show that you are engaged in stuff, that you know things, that you do interesting things and have interesting experiences – which will hopefully make it easier for you both to have future conversations as colleagues, instead of allowing him to see you as his student, a passive receptacle for his wisdom.

    1. Yea..right*

      I really don’t like the term mansplaining itself because it makes me feel feelings about being a man but this seems like a lot of hoops to jump through.

      1. Lehigh*

        I think that it might be really interesting for you to examine these two reactions side-by-side. I think what we’re hearing a lot of women say in these comments is that if they want to have in-depth conversations consistently with men, they need to either approach things in the complicated way Student is suggesting or get those men to work on their gendered conversational approach (specifically: a tendency to ignore, condescend to, and talk over women in situations where they would be more respectful and listening toward other men).

        It’s okay to feel feelings about being a man! But respectfully, women trying to manage the feelings you may feel as a man is what leads to complex approaches like Student’s.

        If you’re uncomfortable with “mansplaining” and ALSO with Student’s discussion, that seems to lead to this idea that women should do all the emotional labor and then also should not talk about it. I think we can probably agree that’s a non-starter.

        1. Yea..right*

          I take issue with the term itself. I don’t take an issue with what the specific sexism it is trying to define. I’m not denying that sexist men speak over women because they view them as inferior. It’s using a label that I identify with to describe a behavior I don’t condone. That’s it and the only reason it makes me uncomfortable. Women should absolutely not having to carry the emotional labor of having to prove repeatedly that they are a complete and full person.

          1. mrs__peel*

            Maybe it *should* make you feel uncomfortable, and you should examine that discomfort.

          2. Savannnah*

            I think what women are trying to tell you is that we are often uncomfortable, a majority of the time. Really try to think about that and your own feeling of uncomfortableness with this one issue.

    2. Lehigh*

      Thank you! Those sound like useful tips. I’m still on board with having the conversation when possible, but a lot of guys are really resistant to terms like mansplaining in person so it’s good to have workarounds in your back pocket.

      Of course we shouldn’t have to, but I appreciate you sharing strategies anyway.

    3. all aboard the anon train*

      Ask in-depth questions about what he’s saying – even if you already know the answer – to keep it as a dialogue instead of a monologue.

      This is counterproductive and forcing women to do emotional labor in professional relationships.

      Asking questions you already know the answer just forces women to pretend to be dumb for the sake of a man’s ego and reinforces the idea that men need to be the ones to explain things to women. This does way more harm than good imo. I’m not going to coddle a man’s need to answer questions and show off his intelligence if I already know the subject of conversation as well as he does.

      Not to mention, in most mansplaining situations, a man is never going to turn around and ask women conversations to contribute to a dialogue.

      1. Student*

        I agree with you that it still puts the woman in the role of doing emotional labor we shouldn’t have to do. Tried to be nuanced and up-front about that.

        I’m explicitly proposing that we probably have to lose that specific battle in the short-term to win a bigger war in the long-term. Accept a little more emotional labor than we really ought to do now, in favor of trying to convert men to see us as fully human equals. Do it in a way that doesn’t inherently put the men on defensive. Then, once they see us as more human colleagues and treat us less like their students, we can ease off that extra emotional labor down the road. And do it without having them try to stomp on our career out of pique at us showing them up.

        I don’t think we can win that bigger goal without giving up some ground in places that hurt us the least. Unless we stage a hostile take-over – but I don’t see the appetite for that from women in large enough numbers to think it’s a viable tactic. Do you?

        1. mediumofballpoint*

          People tend to change when they’re uncomfortable, so I don’t think pandering to men and protecting their egos will last in resulting change. And perhaps it’s easier for people with different dimensions of identity, but I definitely don’t have in to me to give a man a cookie for being a jerk in hopes that one day he’ll stop being a jerk. I’m too tired and frustrated and angry for that.

        2. KX*

          I don’t want to spend any time “converting” men who don’t see me as their equal. I spend my time cutting out men who do not. I don’t have to make my case as a worthy human. I don’t need a convert in my life.

          I don’t indulge mansplaining. I stop a conversation the minute it becomes a lecture, and redirect it back to the matter at hand. Thank you, but. “Thank you, but that was not my question. My question is.” Or, “Thank you, but I guess your answer means that you did not read the book.” “Thank you, but I like doing it this way. Would you like me to show you how to do it this way too?”

          Et cetera.

          If they get bent out of shape and complain about me, whatever. I’ll deal with that fallout when it comes. It almost never comes.

        3. all aboard the anon train*

          Women already do so much emotional labor in the workplace and I don’t think picking up more emotional labor tasks is going to help short or long term.

          Picking up more emotional labor isn’t going to make them see us as equals. It’s going to make them see us as lesser because emotional labor is so often viewed as the “less important”aspects of work.

          Why is it always up to women to give up ground to soothe the ruffled feathers of men? If they’re defensive, it’s because they know somewhere deep down that they’re in the wrong. It’s not worth my time to try and “convert” a man from his bad behavior.

    4. Temperance*

      Honestly, I don’t think we need to stroke the egos of every mansplainer out there. It just perpetuates the idea that these dudes are experts and women are not, and I don’t think it’s very helpful to set up this dichotomy.

      1. Student*

        The core problem I have with your approach is that if you shit on them for being egotistical jerks, they will shit on you out of spite and culture. That’s been my experience for showing them up. Have you had better results?

        Then, they usually have more power and more powerful friends – so when you shit on them, you embarrass them for an hour or a day. When they shit back on you, they won’t just make your day bad – they make your week, or month bad. They make your relationship with a colleague, boss, or client go bad. That’s what happens to me. Again, have you had better results?

        1. Temperance*

          There is a huge difference between “shit(ting) on men” who are egotistical jerks and stroking their egos while pretending to be dumb. I have had better luck making it very clear that I’m an equal contributor, but I have never called a man who outranked me “Captain Mansplainer” or something like that.

        2. Mookie*

          The core problem I have with your approach is that if you shit on them for being egotistical jerks, they will shit on you out of spite and culture.

          I don’t know what you mean by shitting on something out of “culture,” but being the recipient of mansplaining is already a form of being shat-on. As a woman on the internet who is definitely a woman, you understand this firsthand, right?

          Again, have you had better results?

          Yes, as have the women belowthread who’ve shared precisely those experiences.

    5. Mad Baggins*

      I appreciate your efforts to try to find a less confrontational solution to this problem. Definitely that can be helpful when dealing with higher-ups and people you need to please. But
      1) I think the motivations are bad, and we shouldn’t indulge them. If a man wants to be listened to for a long time, or be perceived as knowledgeable, then he should have to put in the effort to be an actual expert. In the same way we don’t indulge children’s temper tantrums, we shouldn’t reward bad behavior with politeness/passive encouragement (when we can afford to do otherwise).

      2) Your techniques ignore two of the main components of mansplaining: A) the mansplainer is usually wrong/uninformed and B) not listening/steamrolling. I don’t think there is anything a woman could say to gain equal footing in the conversation without stepping on his ego. Here’s how I see your techniques going:
      W: I’m having trouble training my new dog.
      M: Well you see my dear actually dogs are great companion animals–
      W: Yes, I am a dog breeder and trainer–
      M: –and the key is to have a firm hand on the newspaper at all times, just in case–
      W: Oh, that’s really not accepted practice anymore.
      M: –but once you have a well-trained dog, they will be your companion for life.
      W: Yes, why, just the other day–
      M: Now, have you tried feeding your dog steak?
      W: Yes.
      M: Well, actually, you should only feed your dog steak, raw preferably, like they got in the wild.
      W: Do you think dogs should eat vegetables?
      M: Well, they should certainly eat steak. Let me tell you, my dog Rover…

  33. Workerbee*

    I got exhausted just reading about the techniques (this is not a comment on your style at all!).

    I do believe I know what you’re aiming for and how you hope it can move us all forward.

    These things, though:
    -He gets perceived as someone knowledgeable about the subject matter
    -He gets the attention of a woman
    -He gets listened to for a long time
    -He gets to feel like he’s helping a woman

    I guess I’m just finally tired enough not to care about what this type of person thinks they deserve. (And I do like to think I understand the fine-toothed role society/convention/civilization/etc. has played in forming this now-seemingly-inherent belief system, that this is what X person is entitled to have just because of gender.)

    Yet I’m just…I don’t have the energy for it. All that understanding and empathy costs.

    Hell, I got talked at on a recent plane ride by my seatmate, an older gentleman, who thought a great conversational gambit would be, “Do you know who Einstein was?” peering at me all the while as if my head zipped up the back. And for the record, I did try “Start talking about your own neat projects/accomplishments/observations” with a scientific parlay, but because he didn’t know what _I_ was referring to, he immediately lost interest. That’s a win, I guess. :)

    For me, the quickest way not to get my energy dragged off the charts is to leave the conversation in various physical or mental ways, or if I feel comfortable enough in the situation, call that sh*t out.

    1. Lehigh*

      Oh, leaving is definitely also great! I personally appreciate Student’s ideas for when you really need to leverage a relationship (such as possibly at work).

    2. TiffIf*

      I was once camping with a friend’s family and it looked like it was going to rain so her father got started on a lecture about lightning. And then he asked if anyone knew why the safest place to be in the storm would be in one of the cars (this was outdoors-no buildings in sight for miles). I said in a slightly bored tone “Because it can act as a Faraday cage” and just kind of knocked the wind out of his sails because he truly didn’t expect anyone to have an answer.

  34. Amy the Rev*

    I’ve found while on first dates that I encounter a very specific combo of mansplaining and religious illiteracy….wherein a dude who is an Atheist or Secular Humanist mansplains to me why my religion is wrong. Once I even had a guy who had bragged about never having taken a religion class (in his opinion, avoiding learning about religion gave him extra atheist cred), and then tried to mansplain my religion to me, an ordained minister, who has an advanced degree in the subject (from a reputable, university-based divinity school). I ended up telling him he was being smarmy and condescending, he told me I was ugly, I laughed and said “no I’m not,” and walked away. I wish I could say this was an uncommon occurrence. Lucky I’m so used to it that it’s just funny at this point.

    1. all aboard the anon train*

      I roll my eyes at the “you’re ugly!” comment whenever women don’t react to a man the way they expect. I mean, you want me to believe that you suddenly find me ugly after hitting on me just because I didn’t like your joke/crude comment/condescension/attitude? Yeah, ok.

    2. Overeducated*

      I have been told by friends with PhDs in religious studies that they get this the worst because everyone thinks they are an expert in religion! My condolences.

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Oh my god I HATE THIS.

      “Oh bravo, you’ve discovered that the Song of Solomon exists, this completely debunks the entire rest of the Bible because it uses sexual metaphors, you Bible scholar you.”

  35. NaoNao*

    I am not defending mansplaining at all, but my BF was made aware of the term and noted “Not disagreeing, but that’s how guys talk to each other all the time.”
    It could be that there’s a clash when it comes to how women typically interact (affirmations, connection through self-revelation, storytelling, non verbal agreements, deferring to each other, objective is to grow friendship through talk) and how men do, and when men are not asked to change, women sort of heave a sigh and do the changing.
    I think it’s high time men were at least asked “why aren’t you making more of an effort to accommodate the person you’re speaking to/with?” rather than asking women to be more assertive, or edgy, or whatever will make guys respect them and interact in a way that doesn’t come off as condescending and sexist.
    But I will say, men mansplain to each other all the time. There’s a lot of jockeying for dominance and playful disagreement and talking over/interruption. It’s all part of the game, I guess, for them.

    1. Blue Anne*

      That’s a pretty classic excuse, though. It’s just an intellectualized version of “well that’s just locker room talk”.

      1. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant*

        Also, that theory seems to predict that women who are more task-oriented and communicate more impersonally won’t experience mansplaining, because they’re matching the “male style”. I have doubts that this theory is borne out. In my experience, we still get talked down to; it’s just that it comes with a side of “also, you’re a bitch because you won’t do all the emotional labor.”

      2. Temperance*

        And a super untrue one. Think about the last business meeting you attended where a woman spoke and gave a suggestion, and was ignored or shot down, and a dude gave the same suggestion minutes later, and was given praise for it.

    2. Bobstinacy*

      I get what your boyfriend is saying, because a lot of male to male communication like this is them both showing off their knowledge to each other.

      “Did you see that bike? That was the 380 zoomzoom, beautiful”
      “No that was a 320, the engine wasn’t big enough for a 380. It’s the zoomzoom though, probably the Y series.”
      “No, only the zoomzoom X10 has that 320”

      The problem comes in when women get involved in that dynamic because a) we don’t have conversations like that so it can seem adversarial and b) many men do not like it if a woman disagrees with them, especially about ‘masculine’ topics.

      Suddenly what was two men having a great “yay we’re both smart and valued” conversation is now a woman questioning a man’s knowledge.

      “Did you see that bike? That was the 380 zoomzoom, beautiful”
      “Nah that’s the X10, I don’t think they make them bigger than a 320 max”
      ” No! It’s a 380!”

      And next thing you know you’re a bitch and his ego is wounded. Especially because these conversations aren’t about accuracy, they’re about bonding.

      Some men can absolutely do the back and forth with women, but they’re the ones that trust a woman’s opinion to begin with so they’re not the problem.

      Long story short your boyfriend mansplained mansplaining because he’s only dealt with the male on male version and has no experience with how women come out in the same interaction. It’s very meta.

      1. Mad Baggins*

        +1. I think there is definitely a component to communication of how genders are socialized to communicate, whether the goal is to establish rank/expertise or to build relationship and value. This is a thing writers have to be aware of when writing as the other gender.

        But I think this is connected tangentially to mansplaining, and not exactly the same thing. It’s missing the steamrolling, the ignorance of the speaker (ie explaining something to someone more knowledgeable than they are), and most importantly, the immediate assessment and assumption that the other person knows less based.on.their.gender.

        So it’s the difference between
        Male zoomzoom fan 1: Did you see that bike? That was the 380 zoomzoom, beautiful
        Male zoomzoom fan 2: No that was a 320, the engine wasn’t big enough for a 380.
        Male zoomzoom fan 1: No, only the zoomzoom X10 has that 320

        Male zoomzoom fan: Did you see that bike? That was the 380 zoomzoom, beautiful
        Female zoomzoom mechanic: No that was a 320, the engine wasn’t big enough for a 380.
        Male zoomzoom fan: Well actually, the zoomzoom 380 has an engine like that, I read this great article about how to tell them apart–
        Female zoomzoom mechanic: Yeah I wrote that article.
        Male zoomzoom fan: –and it was quite good, you really should read it, it will help you learn to tell apart the zoomzoom series.

    3. Temperance*

      That’s actually not true, though. Guys do not do this to each other all the time, and certain not in the work context.

    4. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Show me a bunch of dudes explaining Marvel comics to Stan Lee and maybe I’ll believe that.

    5. sfigato*

      I think that explains why men tend to talk over women/dominate the conversation – we are used to doing it to one another. But we do it worse to women. And we don’t tend to mansplain to one another in the same way. If a guy says, “I work in pediatrics,” another guy is way less likely to go off on their theory of children’s health than if it were a woman, and they’d do it in a different, less condescending way. If it were a guy, it’d be more like, “hey, let me show you I am just as smart as you.” To a woman, it’s more “you probably are kinda dumb and ignorant, so lemme educate you.” Even if we aren’t explicitly thinking that.

      I do think as men we are expected to talk more than women. I’ve been in work groups with mostly women, and the men dominated the conversation because we were more accustomed to speaking and being heard. And this is with female leadership and female facilitators who were making a concerted effort to include the people who weren’t talking as much. It’s not that the women weren’t speaking at all, but that the men spoke disproportionately. I’m aware of this and I try to listen more and shut up, but there are times when nobody else is chiming in, so I feel like I have to in order to keep the conversation going.

  36. SpaceNovice*

    The smartest men I’ve ever known have always been the ones that ask low much I, someone earlier in her career than them, knew about a subject before explaining it. And frequently checking in with if I’m following or if I need a particular subtopic explained or if he should skip it. They admit when they aren’t familiar with something–and they are happy to learn new things from me. I don’t think these men are smart–I KNOW these men are smart.

    Seriously–women have eyes and ears. We can tell who knows stuff and who doesn’t. Mansplaining just proves you’ve got the emotional intelligence of a rock.

  37. Matt*

    So if mansplaining is a thing, can we get a definition of womansplaining too?

    How about, when a woman claims she’s being mansplained to, but is using the term incorrectly, that’s womansplaining?

    I’m not saying that mansplaining isn’t a thing – but I have seen it used to put down a man saying anything, just because he’s a man and there are women in the conversation. (In online fprums… On sites like Jezebel for example)

      1. Temperance*

        “It’s only mansplaining if a man agrees! Otherwise, she’s WOMANSPLAINING, which is infinitely worse even though it’s a word that I made up because I am a mansplainer and don’t feel like treating women with basic courtesy.”

        1. Parenthetically*

          “It’s just like how my black friend called my white friend out about some totally innocent joke, and that’s playing the race card, which is WAY worse than racism because it makes ME feel bad!”

    1. Temperance*

      So, just curious, what would YOU consider to be the appropriate and correct version of the word “mansplaining” that women are allowed to use?

      I’ve also seen a lot of men bring a lot of trash to Jezebel, and share their shitpinions when they aren’t needed or asked for. There are a handful of men who contribute there and actually bring value to the discussion, and about 10x more who either want to get infinite praise for being “woke” or who feel the need to share the male perspective on women’s issues.

    2. Bobstinacy*

      This is absolutely something that happens, because humans are humans and some of them are jerks who will use whatever power structure they have to silence and put down others.

      That being said the word mansplaining is hardly an academic term. It’s a tongue in cheek description of a behaviour that enough people noticed that it became popular on the internet. Trying to draw a direct parallel to womansplaining is hard because the exact social dynamic isn’t something that can be flipped.

      Plus it continues the Us vs Them dynamic that’s become so visible in the internet age. Rather than both sides one upping each other with surface issues they could be trying to have productive discussions about how to move forward.

      I really think that’s the crux of the problem is no one is extending any principle of charity when they get into these discussions because of how emotionally loaded they are for many men and women.

      (Further up someone coined ‘matronizing’ for being condescended to by a woman and I’m a fan. I can picture the exact women the term describes in my life.)

      1. mrs__peel*

        I can’t speak for all women everywhere, but I’ve already given the benefit of the doubt to enough men over the course of my life who turned out to be shitballs. I’m 100% done “extending the principle of charity” to men who come to these discussions with their own sexist/misogynist axes to grind.

        1. Bobstinacy*

          This comment is what I mean by the principle of charity.

          If you’ll look further up the main thread you’ll see my own comment about sexism and how it affects me as a young, small woman every day.

          I was talking in this comment about having debates/discussions/arguments whatever online. Not individual men being sexist to individual women.

          The principle of charity would be that, in a discussion with others about a fraught topic, you try your best to understand their point of view/argument and assume they are rational, reasonable people. Framing every discussion as a fight with a winner and loser means nothing is solved and there are better ways to spend our time.

          1. mrs__peel*

            There are plenty of “individual men being sexist to individual women” online. The internet isn’t a magical realm divorced from the rest of the real world. It’s part of the world where people interact with each other.

            A certain percentage of men enjoy being “provocateurs” and spreading their bad-faith sexist arguments around, and some of those also get a kick out of harassing women. For them, online discussions are just another forum to do that. It’s rather naive to think that those guys are actually interested in having “rational, reasonable” discussions, or that anything good can come of engaging with them in a reasoned way.

    3. Parenthetically*

      So here’s the deal: you can pretend all you want that a woman being a jerk to a man in conversation is anything remotely like the society-wide dynamic of women as a whole being talked over, condescended to, and belittled about subjects they are already educated about, but that would make you delusional.

      Also loling forever at “it happens sometimes in the comments section on Jezebel.”

    4. Mookie*

      On sites like Jezebel for example

      You mean where women assert that their lived experiences trump an Interweb Man’s really thoughtful hunches about how to solve sexism? That’s just expertise talking.

  38. mrs__peel*

    On a linguistic note, I LOVE the French term for mansplaining– “mecspliquer”.

    (Combo of “mec” = “guy” and “m’expliquer”= “explain to me”)

  39. Semi-regular*

    So if I, a woman, thinks that the term “manspaining” is a silly, snowflakey term, does this mean my feminist card is revoked? That’s a serious question. I am a powerful, independent, successful head of household woman.

    I think condescending boors are jerks and worthy of exactly 3 seconds of contemplation.

    Ladies, some of the power men have, they take, some of it, we give them. I genuinely feel this way, and I am 100% certain I will get totally roasted for this comment but I work on a field where 90% of the employees at all levels are men. This is not a STEM industry.

    The vast, vast majority of my co-workers are exceptionally professional (although almost none of them know what a bread plate is) equal opportunity, fair minded men. There are a few assholes who “mansplain” (cringe). I ignore them.

    I honestly have no idea why we are spending any time getting the feeeellllsss over know it alls, who happen to be men. Stop letting them live rent free in your head.

    1. Mad Baggins*

      I mean, if you acknowledge that the phenomena described by the shorthand “mansplain” is real, and you do what you can to uplift women/educate men suffering from it, then I don’t see why that would affect “how feminist you are” (side-stepping that loaded question entirely).

      But if your objection to the term is that women are “making this up” or “making it a bigger deal than it is” or that “not all men do this so why are we talking about it” or “I haven’t personally experienced it so I don’t think it’s important/real” or “I don’t experience this problem so it shouldn’t be a problem for anyone else”? Then maybe you need to do some more reading and listening.

  40. Not That Jane*

    I think if you’re wondering whether you’re a mansplainer and are actively trying to shut down those tendencies in yourself, you’re actually doing exactly the right thing. The dudes I worry about are those who are either totally not self-aware about their condescending behavior, or are self-aware and actually think that’s how women SHOULD be treated.

  41. DArcy*

    Amusingly yet annoyingly, the primary source of mansplaining in my life is my roomie’s eight year old son, who seriously believes that he’s smarter and more knowledgeable than three adult women with advanced college degrees.

  42. Michaela Westen*

    I haven’t listened to it yet, but…
    “Certain reactions really bring it out of me, too, – if someone says “I don’t know” / “I’m not sure X”, then I really like to jump in”
    This sounds like a pattern that was learned in early childhood. My brother is like this, unfortunately, with me. Our abusive father set the example of being critical and superior and he learned to do that automatically.
    If it is a subconcious pattern, a good therapist can help you rearrange it so you don’t have these impulses.
    Also making the effort to change your behavior is excellent! I’ve always found it’s not as hard as I expected. :)

    1. Round and realistic*

      Agreed. Coining sexist terms to combat sexism will never solve an issue, being open about an issue, regardless of gender, is the way forward :)

      1. Round and realistic*

        Im someone is hell bent on giving unsolicited explanations or advice, that you categorize as “mansplaining”, be direkt and tell them to stop explaining things you already know, and if needed, to stop acting like an ass. Dont make it into a gendered issue when these type of people exist among our entire population.

  43. My pets give me breakfast!*

    The most amusing episode I’ve had with mansplaining was with a former male friend who told me that my hens (yes, real chickens) wouldn’t lay eggs without a rooster. Note, I was the one who had the chickens, who fed and watered them every day and got their (apparently nonexistent) eggs. His rational was a doubling down since he thought that the rooster was necessary, because the rooster had to tell the hens how to lay the eggs. Meta!

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