Taking the Mansplaining Out of Mansplaining, Again!

So I'm listening to NPR the other day and some dude is chatting with a correspondent about words of the year - one of those fun end of the year type segments - and they're all like, oh, fiscal cliff is soooo gonna win, but hey, let's chat up some of the other woulda coulda shoulda beena word of the year entries. And one of the ones the dude mentions is...mansplaining.* Even tho, like, mansplaining as a word of the year is so last year. Remember when the NYT saw fit to tell us what mansplaining really meant? and how it actually had nothing to do with mansplaining, but was just a fancy new word for boor?

Well now, in this year's incarnation of mansplaining mansplaining as a would-be word of the year, we are told that it is basically just about dudes who like to explain stuff.  That sounds pretty harmless, doesn't it! And sort of funny!  Like your crazy old uncle who shows up at Thanksgiving dinner and can't stop nattering on about "when I was a young boy, we used to bla bla bla". But alas. Mansplaining is about men who like to explain to women things that the women already understand and/or are experts on, or to offer a totally wrong correction of a woman's correct explanation, or even to bloviate on a subject about which the man knows nothing, but about which he feels confident he can educate the little women, because she's a woman.

And again, alas! even Lily Rothman in the Cultural History of Mansplaining will only go so far as to say that is is "often" done "by a man to a woman" and bizarrely says that "the idea wasn't political in origin."  Wasn't political in origin?  WTF? Who's been mansplaining its history to her?  Has she even read the Rebecca Solnit essay she references? Well, little ladies, I guess there's nothing political at all about the dudes telling you what you know. Until a politician tells you what's gonna be.  Then it's offishully about politics!

Sweet baby Jesus in the manger with his little golden diaper!  The. Personal. Is. Political.

Yrs truly,

Shrill old ugly hairy-legged Second Wave feminazi harridan

P.S. No, I can't find the link to the NPR piece.


6 responses so far

  • DJMH says:

    See, this is just you trying to create trouble. Those dudes are Trying So Hard to Be Helpful and you can't just accept that! You gotta go putting some political spin on it, like somehow it matters if a man acts like he knows everything about how women's bodies function during rape, or whatever. He was just trying to show that he gets it. Really. Really.

    • Zuska says:

      We hairy-legged Second Wave feminist harridans can't help it. We see the erasure of women, and of women's viewpoints and issues, everywhere we go. It's the ultimate irony that mansplaining should have its specifically political and anti-female nature hidden as the word itself spreads more widely into the general vocabulary. Like it's being diluted and detoxified as the general populace gets hold of it. It seems the opposite of what was done to the word feminist/feminism, but is really in analogy. Feminist was demonized and made to seem a terrifying creature as opposed to someone who thinks women are humans. In both cases the true meaning has to be hidden so the public discourse can go on undisturbed. Real Women aren't (shrill, hairy-legged, man-hating) feminists; mansplaining is really just a funny kinda word for dudes who talk a lot! ha ha! Nothing to see here! Move along!

  • Chee says:

    *Also, bear in mind that mansplaining can't be done by women. It is not mneealss that makes mansplaining; it is male privilege. Women do not have male privilege. So they do not have social power backing them up when they splain stuff. Posted by: SKM | January 29, 2010 8:21 PMNice feminist theory but it doesn't hold water. I guess that you have never had a female boss who exercised her power advantage at every opportunity. Of course, you might have some other label for that. Femsplaining ? Wosplaining ? whatever. To blame the arrogant stupidity of those in power on men in general is simply wrong and gets you no closer to solving the problem.

  • Laura says:

    I've also thought of this word a little differently. To me it is when a woman has spoken in a meeting and then some guy will turn and explain to the group what the little lady was trying to say

  • Cara says:

    To blame the arrogant stupidity of those in power on men in general is simply wrong and gets you no closer to solving the problem.

    All these little "I think it means" discussions are cute, but the mansplaining phenomenon has already been clearly defined.

    It means: A man starts blathering to a woman, explaining things SHE ALREADY KNOWS, USUALLY BETTER THAN HE DOES, MERELY BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN and therefore MUST NEED HIS GUIDANCE.