Teach Your Children Well: Understanding Mansplaining

A friend of the blog recently let me know how understanding mansplaining is helping the children of England navigate today's world.

Scene:  A family home in Manchester, England.  Kitchen interior.  Mom is cooking, and pre-adolescent Son and Daughter are nearby.

Son:  Mom, how do new words get made?

Mom: Oh, well, lots of different ways.  Sometimes somebody just makes something up, and then their friends start using it, and then it catches on, and then everyone uses it.  Or sometimes an old word gets modified to describe something new.  Or sometimes two words get combined to describe something.  Here's an example I saw the other day in the New York Times: mansplaining.  It's a combination of man and explaining.

Son and Daughter: What does it mean?

Mom: It's when a man starts explaining, especially to women, how to do what they already know how to do, or how they are wrong about what they are actually right about.  Or they interrupt to give some small facts about something you are talking about that you know more about that he does.   Man explaining - mansplaining, is how the word is formed, and it means that annoying sort of totally unnecessary explaining done by men, usually to women, and often interrupting the woman when she was talking.  [See here and here for an elaboration.]

Son and Daughter: Okay.

Scene: The next day.  Out and about in the family car, kids in back seat, mom driving.

Daughter: Hey mom, did you know [story ensues about something that happened last week].

Son: [Interrupts Daughter and takes over narrative with his version.]

Daughter:  Hey!  Shut up! Stop mansplaining me!  [resumes her narrative]

Zuskateers, we can't say for sure that knowing the definition of mansplaining this early in life will have a profound impact on Son and Daughter as they grow up.  We can't say for sure that having the opportunity early in life to identify mansplaining in action in a relatively benign setting will make Daughter more likely to challenge it from now on, and/or Son less likely to engage in it.  But surely they both have more of a chance, now that they know what it is, than they did before. Yay kids!  Keep asking questions.

Sons, partake not ye of the mansplaining.  Daughters, when the mansplainer arriveth at thy very footstep, remember to callest out "Stop mansplaining me!"  The End.

Thanks to the family in Manchester for sharing this story with TSZ!

12 responses so far

  • brooksphd says:

    Awesome! This wonderful play, "based on real life events", should be a highschool requisite too 🙂

  • Warren says:

    "Boysplaining"? "Bratsplaining"?

    Cute story, though, and something that does me good to be reminded of from time to time myself, so thanks for bringing up the subject again.

  • Ace K says:

    man this happened to me just an hour ago on the phone with the credit card company trying to fix an error they made. the guy kept talking back to me and I asked him if he could please just stop arguing with me. he said he was just trying to "explain" things to me. I wish I'd read this before so I could've said stop mansplaining!!

  • Tara says:

    Funny how things work - I now have a boss who's a perpetual mansplainer and all things 'boys club' and old school. Really hard for me.

    What I'd love to know is if there's any advice for dealing with a mansplainer as your boss (or in the work environment in general - FYI, we are 2 people so no HR)? Everything I've looked into seems to be a dead end and I would LOVE some advice on how to deal with it. Humour would be good.
    On a larger picture, the community I've moved to is RIFE with old boys club attitude and I'm constantly running up against it and banging my head against the wall. IS there a tactful way to call out a mansplainer, either in private or public, that is professional but gets the point across?

    Thanks for the smile 🙂

  • gerty-z says:

    This is fantastic. I will begin to teach Mini-G forthwith. 🙂

  • Pavlov's Cat says:

    I am so very proud that this happened in Manchester. And I too have wondered about how to tactfully call out mansplaining. It shouldn't be anyone's responsibility to show tact to someone who is so disrespectful, but when it's your boss, you can't just be as blunt as I usually am.

  • sandy says:

    Love this. So great to have them both aware!

  • anon says:

    Tara, I think there are some situations where tact should be thrown out the window and the mansplainer revealed for the dickhead that he is. A colleague of mine was mansplained at an NIH study section meeting. He had thrown out every grant application that she wanted to discuss (note: she is more senior to him - had been there longer, has more funding, experience, etc), and dismissed her objections by chanting, [name change here for anonymity], "suzy, suzy, suzy.... what are we going to with you?" That was it. No further explanation. No applications that she favored were funded or even discussed. I was furious when I heard about this. Maybe she was intimidated, but she should have raked him over and made it clear to the rest of the participants that he was out of line. The moment would have been embarrassing and uncomfortable for everyone, but I'm sure that the people who put so much effort into those applications that she liked would have appreciated it.

  • Luna_the_cat says:

    In response to the incident in Manchester, I can only say:


    ...In reply to anon, above, I can only say:


  • Thegoodman says:

    "Wah Wah, Where is the stuff for white men?"

    I just re-read this post on your previous blog, good stuff. I was certainly the captain of one very large douche-canoe for a while there, but I've grown up a lot in a short time.

  • hgg says:

    I've been trying for a year to come up with a good translation of "mansplaining" to Scandiwegian, but still no success. I m u s t tell this story to my daughter at some point.

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