NYT Mansplains Mansplaining

Dec 22 2010 Published by under Isn't It Ironic?, What They're Saying

I note the New York Times has compiled a list of words of the year, and has seen fit to include mansplainer among them - with a link back to TSZ and the epic mansplaining thread created by the comments from all you fabulous Zuskateers. (Can also be found here on the new blog site.)

Just think! Mansplainer, a word of the year at the NYT!

Well, before we get too excited about it...I also note they could not keep themselves from mansplaining the word mansplainer.

mansplainer:  [reasonably okay definition provided, then...] Old term: a boor.

No, that's not quite it NYT. Close, but no cigar for leaving out all the gender. But thank you for that mansplanation of the definition, 'coz we ladeez sure could not have understood it without that example to helpfully illustrate and show us how unnecessary this word of the year is in the first place.

As a special solstice gift to Zuskateers everywhere, I invite you to use this thread to kvetch about mansplaining's ills in your life, to your heart's content.  Remember: no debating whether mansplaining exists, or asking if women can be mansplainers, too, or other types of foolishness.  Just the kvetching, about the mansplaining.

Happy solstice!

46 responses so far

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Oh damn. See now I thought "meh, that's not quite it" but I missed the deliciousness of the mansplaining. How totally meta, NYT.

  • G says:

    I recently had a man explain menopause in detail to me (a middle-aged woman). He told me all about its emotional and physical effects on women and didn't want to hear from me that 1) these effects are highly variable, and 2) the ones he described were not my experience at all.

  • jc says:

    A d00d mansplained to me which toothpaste to buy because I apparently was taking too long in the aisle trying to find exactly which one I needed TO MATCH THE FUCKING COUPON IN MY HAND. I was looking for a certain size so I was reading every box to see the tube size. According to toothpaste expert dood, I was supposed to get the minty one because it had "extra oxygen power" which helps "get in the spaces" and "fights bad breath." /eyeroll. I walked away, without the toothpaste.

  • KJHaxton says:

    I was at a training course at my uni a few weeks ago and one of the other participants *delightfully* mansplained to me what a thesis was ["its like writing a really big, important book and it sits on my shelf now and I did really well to write it"], and how easy it would be to fix my central heating system [which isn't broke, just quirky]. Sigh...

  • samantha says:

    I work in A/V services at my school, running around fixing classroom tech all day - professor calls, I come a-runnin'.

    I got up in front of a class to give a presentation, and had to get down and mess with some of the settings on the system, to achieve the effect I wanted. D00d quickly jumped up from the front row, all but pushed me aside, and proceeded to (try and) educate me about how the classroom tech works. After he managed to talk over me, ignore my (female) professor, and turn off the projector, he retired to his seat, convinced the system was broken. I pushed two buttons, turned the projector back on, and 4 minutes later (after the projector had warmed up) we were back in business.

    Best part? We were in a "Sociology of Women" course.

  • M says:

    A guy at work was like "You have a cold again?" and then proceeded to mansplain how moms get sick because they don't get enough sleep. THANKS. I APPRECIATE IT.

  • The Nerd says:

    I was setting up for a discussion group in a public facility, and the peculator coffee pots were already in place, but weren't on. I mused out loud if they were leftover from a previous group or were there for our group. The guest speaker happened to be arriving at the same time, and he advised me to check and see if the grounds were wet or dry. Looking inside, it was obviously full of old coffee.

    He then attempted to explain to me the finer details of how to make coffee. I knew where this was going, so I stopped him short: "Thanks," I said, "but my first job was at a cafe, so I've done this before plenty of times."

    His response is an instant mansplainer classic: "Oh. I've only made coffee once before in my life."

  • becca says:

    I could be wrong, but I think this explains everything:

    The boors had to *GO* somewhere...

  • Kate says:

    It is constantly mansplained to me why sexism in radical communities exists and is even needed. I guess we womens get too emotional during processes, and we delicate flowers should be protected from the violence of protests. That's why we get talked over at consensus meetings, and put in the FNB tent while the menz go smash the windows. Really, manarchy is in our best interest. Just trust them, they know better than us.

  • Derek says:

    We were having an online library instructional session for a speech class I took in undergrad. A fellow nearby (who once told us he went by "Beer Dave" amongst his friends) explained in brief to the class, and later in some detail to me, that Wikipedia was all but useless because anybody could edit it, thereby spreading mistakes or misinformation.

    I argued that this was its strength, because anybody could edit to correct.

    To prove his point, he added a few absurd claims to an article. "See?" he said. He didn't notice that I immediately reverted the vandalism.

  • HC says:

    This one dude follows me a tad too closely on facebook and comments on every link I post--with the odd exception of stuff about feminism, funny that. The most recent one was the absolute worst and it wasn't even on my link! A friend posted a link about some tea-partyers calling for a return to property-ownership voting rights. I posting something along the lines of "scary" and he starts in explaining to us how it is "retro" and describing the history of voter rights and disenfranchisement. My friend who posted the link 1) went to the exact same university as he did 2) got a degree in political science 3) is an African American woman and for some reason he felt she needed the history of voting rights explained to her. Bleh.

  • Big Blue says:

    Spouse has been mansplaining at me for a few days now.

    The subject is how to use a tape measure. We are attempting, at this late date (due in part to his procrastinating), to insulate the drafty, elderly windows. Regular plastic doesn't work, as we have two large dogs that enjoy ripping plastic to shreds. We do have a ton of salvage wood, though, so I bought some real glass panes and a zillion tubes of clear silicone caulk, and pieced together some window panels that fit sort of inside the existing windows--they actually fit perfectly snug with a single layer of 1/8" weatherstripping foam around the edges of the panels.

    I asked Spouse to please pick up the hardware necessary and install the panels on the windows. Showed him which hardware to buy, which cost about $1 per window. The entire cost of building windows is about $70/window till all is said and done, which is a lot cheaper than buying and installing replacement windows in our area. Plus, now I know how to build windows, which I thought was pretty nifty. I mixed in some textured glass and a few pieces of stained glass, and was really proud of how nice they turned out. I set them in the window myself and they fit exactly, I just wanted Spouse to get screws and little brackets to hold them in firmly so they can be removed in warmer weather.

    For three solid days, I heard about how I had somehow measured wrong by a few inches, and it wasn't going to work because he had measured and they were too small. That I had used the wrong tape measure. That I hadn't measured to the end of the windowsill. He refused to even try to set the panels in place, because he just knew I had measured wrong. Somehow I was incapable of using both a tape measure, a yardstick, and my own eyeballs. He fussed to the point that I even re-built one panel slightly larger, per his own, supposedly highly competent, measurements. Finally yesterday he was willing to observe me gently pressing a panel into a window frame. "Oh. They're supposed to fit inside?" Yes. "Hey, this is perfectly flush with the frame!" Yes. "So now that other one you made is way too big." Uh-huh. "Um. I guess that is my fault." Yes. "OK. I will fix it for you." Gee, thanks.

  • tideliar says:

    Epic idiot in the pub last night. His wife wasn't with him and he was "drinking" with some of the guys...

    The bartender is a elementary school teacher by day with 15+ years experience. She was trying to finish her shift so she could go to WalMart and buy gifts because they were doing a discount for teachers night.

    Epic mansplaining then enused as asshole waxed lyrical about how teachers don't deserve breaks because they're actually well paid (her reply, "I make $30k and only get 9 mos work a year), so he questions her times and dates, "you don't only work 9 months a year"...

    then he questioned her salary, "you make more than that", then the epic line "Well, if the job is so hard, why are only women doing it?!"

    Then, "well, I've been working in Higher Ed for blah blah", to which she points out, "I'm not talking about higher ed, I'm talking about elementary school",

    Gawd, it went on and on, he kept looking round for support and laughing, loudly, to punctuate his point and her "foolishness". As it became more obvious he was losing ground, he just got louder and more belligerent.

    A warning glance and smile from Bartender let me know she was deliberately pushing his buttons at this point.

  • frances says:

    It's been changed on NYT to:

    mansplainer: A man compelled to explain or give an opinion about everything — especially to a woman. He speaks, often condescendingly, even if he doesn’t know what he’s talking about or even if it’s none of his business. Old term: a boor.

    • Zuska says:

      So what's the change? They still have in the "Old term: a boor" which helpfully tells us ladeez that mansplainer is redundant and has nothing to do with gender, no matter what the definition is. In other words, NYT is still mansplaining mansplainer.

      • snobographer says:

        I don't think I've ever heard of a woman described as a boor. The term for women I think is "know-it-all," but it takes a lot less bloviating for that term to be assigned.

        • Zuska says:

          Dictionary.com defines boor as:
          a churlish, rude, or unmannerly person.
          a country bumpkin; rustic; yokel.

          Doesn't seem to have anything specifically to do with gender and therefore my point about NYT mansplaining mansplainer stands.

  • Kookaburra says:

    I am a paramedic. Often, after men learn this about me, they feel compelled to explain how to properly perform CPR. Well, actually, improperly perform it, because they are almost always calling on old AHA guidelines and standards.

  • skeptifem says:

    Dude at work mansplained to a coworker about how she should be in college. This was in between talking about how "I hope they serve beer in hell" was a better book than movie. Ya see, working two jobs that both have potential for promotion isn't as good as what he thinks she should do. not being in college will "really limit your opportunities". I couldn't picture such a conversation occuring with a dude on the receiving end. She ate that shit up though, being raised mormon and all.

  • snobographer says:

    I once had a man who didn't know how to drive a car at all himself sit in my passenger seat and tell me how to circle a block. "Okay now make a right here...now make another right here..."

  • Pamiam says:

    My favorite mansplaining story was a colleague who harangued me for months while I as pregnant about the importance of breastfeeding. He proceeded to tell me about colostrum and its components, breast milk and its important nutrients, etc, etc. He literally made me promise to breastfeed. Come to find out he admitted later, his wife never could breastfeed because of some latch issue and she didn't pump. Somehow their son turned out ok...

  • Amnesia says:

    My ex-boyfriend was a chronic mansplainer. I remember particularly one instance in which he was trying to mansplain some facet of Japanese culture to a friend of mine. A friend who has spent a month in Japan, is learning Japanese, is an active consumer of J-pop and J-dramas, and is just obsessed with the country in general.

    Wish I'd said it, but my thoughts at the time were, 'Dude, your fling with Yu-gi-oh cards a few years back does not qualify you to have an intelligent discussion about Japan.'

    He also kept trying to give me fashion advice, despite the fact that his idea of dressing up was a polo and baggy pants. So glad I broke up with him.

  • Thegoodman says:

    Congrats Zuska!

    I have spent the last 6 months doing a lot less mansplaining.

    The best example I can think of is, mansplaining I am guilty of doing. In high school I once explained to a girl how Political Science is not a good major to have despite her intentions of attending Law School. Since Poly Sci has a very low job placement rate, she should choose a major that was more conducive to finding work after her Bachelors in case she didn't want to go directly on to Law School. Also, since "pre-Law" can be attached to any under-graduate degree, something more focused on a career would be better for her.

    In hind sight, I was a total ass and it was none of my business. I have since apologized to Haley (it was about 7 years later..but I hope it meant something to her).

    • skeptifem says:

      I've gotten those years-later-apologies before, and they meant something for me. Like that people change for the better sometimes.

      • Cara says:

        Funny how often those apologies are for the petty little things but rarely for the overarching issue--that they really think women need men's advice to survive.

  • History Punk says:

    Dude at work mansplained to a coworker about how she should be in college. This was in between talking about how “I hope they serve beer in hell” was a better book than movie. Ya see, working two jobs that both have potential for promotion isn’t as good as what he thinks she should do. not being in college will “really limit your opportunities”. I couldn’t picture such a conversation occuring with a dude on the receiving end. She ate that shit up though, being raised mormon and all.

    I have conversations with students like this regularly. Substitute "football," "Simpsons," or "Family Guy" in for I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell," because if the students I worked around knew I had read Tucker Max, they'd use it as ammo to get me fired.

    I guess I should apologize to them for "mansplaining" forthwith, though I am not sure if it's "mansplaining" since we're all males and I'm probably just as LD as they are.

  • Roland says:

    I stumbled on this and wow! I read the other threads which came before and realised I've done an awful lot of mansplaining in the past which I now feel thoroughly ashamed about. Does that count as kvetching, to admit horrible embarrassment and shame about past crimes?

    The weird thing is that I was brought up by a very assertive and feminist mother and a father who, while he had his faults, did not seem to have this one. Yet I learnt to mansplain and inflicted annoyance and possibly worse on female friends from the age of maybe 14 on - and I'm 38 now. Have I stopped? Dunno - but this thread will help me spot when I'm doing it better I'm sure.

    And another thing - in writing this message I kept wanting to go off on tangents which when I read them back were incipient mansplanations! Ugh! Hopefully all deleted - but it shows how drawn I still am to this behaviour.

  • MadGastronomer says:

    I just had it mansplained to me at great length that well-intentioned allies who nonetheless offer up rape apologism and try to shame people into voting their way deserve lots of consideration and should not be called bad names. I can get angry all I like, but I mustn't cuss at people who mean well, even if they're being privileged douchebags.

  • thisfish says:

    I have one that's really depressing to me that happened recently. I was bothered by a discussion about rape & all that implies one night on the internet. The next day a similar topic came up between my brother and father and I. I talked about my views and about the things I've read and my dad proceeded to mansplain to me how "rape culture" was something made up in the 70's by feminazis. How that all my views on sexism were wrong and that I should "stop using those kinds of words because it will give the wrong idea to people."

    My brother went on the internet to correct some statistic that I had quoted and then used my mistake for dismissing all of my opinions. They both brought out the "men can be raped!" and lots of similar things. This continued for a while until I had to hid in the bathroom to cry. All of this was made more fun by the fact that we were on vacation and sharing a hotel room and spent all week together. And they wondered why after that day I had my headphones on unless they directly addressed me. No, sorry, just because you are family doesn't mean I have to listen to you joke about rape.

    • skeptifem says:

      wow, what jerks. They were being part of rape culture while telling you it was fake O.o I guess they are in so deep that they didn't even notice that one.

    • Isabel says:

      That sucks, thisfish. I've been in the same situation, but years ago- sad it's still happening. Good for you for standing your ground and for wearing your headphones all week. I'm sure it bothered them, and it makes a statement. Don't despair, progress is possible. But not when they can gang up on you on vacation!

  • Comrade Svilova says:

    I'm (foolishly) involved in an epic thread over at Hugo Schwyzer's blog in which mansplainers are claiming that Hugh Hefner's latest engagement (to a 24-year-old, while he is 84) is just *biology* and the reason that older women don't date men 60 years younger is just *biology* and that a woman that old isn't attractive because she can't have babies but a man in his 80s *can* have babies, and thus, biology! Others are determined to explain to me that my determination to criticize patriarchy is like the folks who didn't want the "Ground Zero Mosque" built, and that if I were just a little less intolerant of individual choices, then the world would soon change for the better.

    Because clearly, The Worst Thing Ever is a woman who criticizes the status quo and isn't content with the explanation "but biology, because, obvious!" Everything else that's wrong with the world pales in comparison to my horrible, shrill, hairy-legged, impudent critique of the patriarchal forces that inspired and are inspired by Hefner's (free! legal! non-coercive!) marital choices.

    • Cara says:

      And then they guys whine about how they can't get a date, or about how they KNOW it's biology because they deliberately raised their daughter to avoid all the stupid stupid girly stuff and constantly denigrated "feminine" behavior but she's such a GIRL anyway. Good luck getting through to that bunch.

    • skeptifem says:

      I don't understand- people didn't live to be that old until very recently, and men have always died younger than women on average. How much could it really have to do with biology? This situation is really really new.

      • becca says:

        If I'm correctly informed, then 'people didn't live that long' is a bit of a myth. The *life expectancy* can be very low, due to things like infant mortality and war/accidents killing a lot of young people, and you still have a lot of octogenarians around. It came up a lot when I was looking at evolutionary biology surrounding the grandmother hypothesis.
        Mind, I still think the biology argument is bunk, but because biology != destiny, particularly in things that require behavioral flexibility (and mate-choice is likely something that humans *evolved* to be highly variable with, depending on circumstances).

  • gexx says:

    I recently reposted on FB an article from a feminist/ablist blog about how even 'ironic' racist/sexist/ablist/x-ist jokes perpetuate the normalization of racism/sexism/ablism/x-ism. I had a fellow PhD student comment "she just has a chip on her shoulder and needs to see herself as more than disabled. After all, I don't get angry at 'nerd jokes' even though I'm a nerd."

  • Ryan Ferrell says:

    Wiki-Mansplaining, as reported by the NYT http://nyti.ms/hAyxOp

  • Julie Stahlhut says:

    Actually, this is close to forbidden territory, but I'm going to kvetch about myself. I'm a chronic mansplainer. To both men and women. And I'm female. Just reading the above accounts makes me want to apologize to a whole lot of people about it!

  • EmmATX says:

    Late to the thread, obviously, but I just wanted to tell you Zuska how much I LOVED the original mansplaining thread and comments. It put a name to something I had only vague conscious awareness of, and since then I have recognized many instances of mansplaining, and have identified past instances that bothered me at the time, but I didn't have a name for.

    Exhibit A: several years ago a good friend of mine and I got into a discussion about feminism and workplace discrimination. Despite the fact that I have educated myself in feminist theory, reading tons of blogs and books on the subject, and he'd barely given it a thought, he continued to insist that if only women would be confident and act more like men, they would not face workplace discrimination! After all, it worked for his mom! I'm actually still angry about the way he completely dismissed me and didn't listen to a word I said.

    Exhibit B: several weeks ago my current boyfriend and I were out with friends. One person asked if there was a non-highway scenic route between Austin and San Antonio. My boyfriend (British, lived in Austin 4 years) says no, he doesn't think so. Then I (born and raised in Austin) say actually yes, there is. Then he announces that the scenic route will take at least twice as long to drive as the highway. I said, actually no it won't and 30 seconds ago, you had no idea there WAS a scenic route, now you know how long it takes to drive it?? (Fortunately for the survival of our relationship, he didn't get defensive but was suitably sheepish.)

  • RobertL says:

    Wow - I only just cottoned on to the original Mansplaining thread the other day. I think I found it as a link from Pharyngula.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that it was one of the funniest things I have ever read on the internet. Painfully funny. In a way that can only happen because it's so true.

    It certainly opened my white, privileged, male eyes. I don't think that I'm the worst mansplainer around (of course, I'd be oblivious even if I was) but I'm sure that I have mansplaining tendencies.

    After reading all of this, I will do my best to curb my mansplaining, and also to speak up when I see others mansplain.

  • cydia says:

    i don't get it. isn't a dictionary per se explaining things? or should the nyt have included the word without explanation?

    or is it about the word boor? english is not my first language, it means probably not what my dictionary is telling me, right?

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  • pest says:

    Last I was mansplained to about the American political system, I was not allowed to get a word in edgewise as the British mansplainer has seen two American elections, so he's an expert. I'm just an American woman so I need this stuff explained to me.

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