Examples of mansplaining

My problem with that is that I can’t see how in the world my use of language is “authorative talking.” It’s just general advice giving language.

This actually is what I think people like @Princhester are getting at. A lot of times if feels like there are these weird gotchas in all of this. Even though I use that language all the time without anyone expressing any offense, I’m expected to somehow know that someone will interpret it in a way I completely did not intend.

I can see someone who thinks they’re just having a normal conversation, talking the way they talk to everyone, but a woman perceives it as talking down to them, and thus they get labeled a mansplainer.

I can easily handle avoiding the sort of thing in that article. I don’t tell women how to be a woman. If a woman tells me she’s an expert, or I know from any other information, I will defer to their expertise. But avoiding any turn of phrase that is considered “authoritative talking”? That seems largely impossible.

There does seem like there should be some level of meeting in the middle on that particular aspect.

And, if the problem is the general content and not those words, I genuinely do not know how in the world I was expected to know, from @Saint_Cad’s post, that he knew that the term “womansplaining” might be perceived badly by people other than his wife. That seemed like he expected me to read his mind. (Still, I apologize for insulting you, SC. It was not my intent.)

If someone gives me advice or information I already knew, my response is just “Thanks, but I already knew that.” Not getting offended. I’m still genuinely thankful for the attempt. It’s only insulting when they clearly already know that I knew that, or should have known.

Why should we believe your hypothetical is more probable when there’s enough examples of unqualified men mansplaining to qualified women to make that the high-probability option. “For all we know”, she’s a Nobel prize winner in female biology, and he’s never seen a diagram of female genitalia. See, I can invent self-serving hypotheticals too…

That’s the fucking point - men just assume women are unqualified. As a default.

First, note that I’m not saying that an authoritative tone is necessarily bad or inappropriate. Second, yeah, direct “advice giving language” by its very nature is rather authoritative in tone: “I’m telling you what I think you should do.”

People who want to give advice without sounding authoritative generally make their phrasing more tentative, along the lines of “If it were me, I probably wouldn’t want to use that term in the wild” or “Do you think that might come across the wrong way if you used it in the wild?” or something like that. Again, I’m not saying that you have to be that tentative or that sounding more authoritative is automatically bad (she conciliated reassuringly).

? I don’t see how you got that from what I wrote. I described an (admittedly nebulous and hard to quantify) apparent shift in the conversational style of many men in which they use a more authoritative tone/style when talking to women than when talking to other men. But I didn’t say that that tendency in itself counted as “mansplaining”.

To qualify as “mansplaining”, the authoritative tone has to be combined with the other two criteria I mentioned.

Well, to my female-socialized brain it looked blindingly obvious from his saying “I use ‘womansplain’ with Mrs. Cad” that he was not suggesting such a term was appropriate for general use. Usually, when people are not clearly revealing that they don’t know something, I don’t give them advice that’s based on the supposiiton that they don’t know it. Unless I’m deliberately trying to come across as irritatingly “teacherish”. So yeah, I totally get why Saint_Cad was irritated.

Although at the same time, I agree with you on the general principle that the term “womansplain” carries sort of the same sense of retaliatory false equivalence as terms like “reverse racism” or “all lives matter”. In all those cases, the original term is talking about something that’s not just problematic in itself (e.g., ignorant speechifying, prejudice and discrimination, police brutality) but has a strong component of historic social injustice. And the “retaliatory” term is trying to claim a parallel with a situation that’s missing the social-injustice component. So I think the basic point you were making to Saint_Cad was perfectly valid, even if your application of it was kinda off.

But from this list, #2 certainly, and possibly #3, are just splaining, without any particular gender association. I’ve had people assume they had greater expertise than me and tell me (wrong) things in a very condescending and patronizing manner, too. It wouldn’t get labeled “mansplaining”, because I’m not a woman, but I suspect that it’s the same underlying phenomenon.

Now, I won’t dispute that men splain more than women do. But I think the operative question is whether men splain more to women than they do to other men. And that’s not a question that can be answered from any one gender’s perspective: The only way to get an answer to that question is by comparing the experiences of both genders, preferably with numbers rather than anecdotes.

But there are some cases where an assumption of relative qualifications can be both reasonable and wrong. For instance, I know more about biology than the majority of people, just by virtue of being interested in science in general, and having paid attention in high school science classes. But there are still plenty of people who are more knowledgeable than I about biology, and once I find that out, I defer to their greater knowledge. Which I might not know at the start of a conversation.

But the point is that men almost never err on the side of assuming they’re less knowledgeable than a woman. They always assume they’re more knowledgeable. Even when …

Maybe it’s just me, or my milieu, but I’d never default to thinking high school knowledge is going to make me the most knowledgeable person in the room on anything. I only have that assumption on the things I’ve actually trained and practiced in. I wouldn’t wait to find out, I start out by assuming the people I talk to know as much about me about general things like “biology”.

I’m not mansplaining, I paid attention in high school!


Surely, the whole point is that some (many?) men assume that they know more about everything that women.

There may be instances where they defer to a woman they know is more knowledgeable, but in general, their default is homo superior.

For many, this attitude extends to race as well ad gender.

Please, Princhester, explain to the women who actually experienced it why, as a man who wasn’t there, you are the better judge of mansplaining in those examples.

Well, I spent most of post #56 explaining how #3 in particular does usually have a gender association. It relates to a widespread male tendency to shift to a more authoritative conversational style when talking to women in particular.

What seems to be bothering you is the fact that all the characteristics of mansplaining could also relate to something that isn’t mansplaining. But that’s true for pretty much any sort of offensive discriminatory behavior.

Racism, for example, can be manifested in ways that white people treat non-white people, without actually using any racial epithets or making any statements about race. Those situations likewise have the potential to be misidentified as racism when they might really be about an individual just being a generic asshole.

But that potential for misidentification doesn’t mean that such situations are always or usually misidentified. Racism is often happening, even when it manifests with some ambiguity or deniability. Same for mansplaining.

So you assumed to read my mind that, despite that I said I use the term with my wife, I feel it’s OK to use in the general public. And then offer advice in a condescending way.

Actually, AI can now mansplain, which as you should know, is called botsplaining.

“T-Rexes love to swim. People need not worry if one were to come near because, thanks to the Coriolis Effect, the water would drain away from it.”

“A circle is technically a sandwich. Bread is tightly connected to circleness.”

Well, that depends on how many people are in the room, and who they are. But take a pair of randomly-selected people, and yes, if one of them paid attention in high school, that probably does make that one the more knowledgeable one.

And it occurs to me that we can’t get any information about the phenomenon of splaining from just personal anecdotes, because there’s a symmetry to people’s experiences when it comes to splaining. In ever instance of splaining, both people think that they’re the more knowledgeable one, and both people will treat the other person as less knowledgeable, and therefore both will feel that they’re being treated as less knowledgeable. Of course, the symmetry isn’t complete: One of the two people will be right, and the other will be wrong. But they’re both going to have the same subjective experience.

I’m thinking, in particular, of my father, who was a mansplainer in every sense of the word: He would splain to everyone whom he considered inferior, but he by default always assumed that women were inferior. And he was always complaining that people talked down to him without realizing his “expertise” (he didn’t use the word “splaining”, but only because it hadn’t been coined at the time of his death).

Perhaps the better way to get a handle on the phenomenon of splaining, in all of its various forms, would be for people to track (preferably with numbers), not the instances where they themselves were splained to, but those where they witnessed someone else being splained to. That would, I think, filter out most of the mistaken assessments.


just do it goddammit

Any 2 random people, probably. But we don’t largely move in societies of randomly-selected people. At least, I don’t. Almost any interaction I have that is going to involve 'splaining is going to be with my social peers. Or online, I suppose, but even there, I would never assume I’m the smartest person until my interlocutor left me in no doubt. The Dope taught me that.

Those are two very different situations. You probably have a decent idea what your friends and acquaintances in real life know, but online you’re often talking to virtual strangers.

I’m not talking about just friends and acquaintances IRL, I’m including interactions at work, and in more open social settings like conferences or gaming, etc. I’m discounting interactions I might have with service staff or just walking the dog or the like, because that’s not the kind of social situation where most 'splaining seems to happen. It happens when people get a chance to have actual conversations.

And online, even when talking to strangers, it’s generally not a random sampling. For instance, here on the Dope, I assume most everyone has a university education.

Other than the genders being reversed, this would be a clasic mansplain. The guy is a professional in the field, you know nothing about it, but you confidently declare in all-caps that he “WAS, IN FACT, WRONG”.

Which is really a big part of the “mansplaining” story. Some people are just like that, regardless of gender.

I don’t think this is true, but even if it were, it would be equally silly.

The issue was not an assertion of fact which lent itself to cites. It was an interpretation of regulations, which this guy’s experience and expertise enabled him to do. The only possible cite would be to some other Title IX expert saying the same thing, but there was reason he needed to do that, and in any event, the one expert in the thread was entitled to his opinion without having it man/woman-splained to him.

I work in the IT department of a giant law firm. The firm doesn’t really have a “help desk,” but everyone in IT is supposed to take turns answering help calls, which range from issues needing immediate attention (“there are sparks coming out of my computer”) to fairly trivial (“how do I number paragraphs in MS Word?”) to ridiculous (“how do you spell the name of the firm?”).

There are two women (out of maybe 5,000 total people at the firm), both paralegals, who are serial abusers of the help number, and notoriously rude and obnoxious to whoever has the misfortune to pick up their calls.

Both of them have been known to accuse whoever takes their calls of mansplaining, even though they initiated the call and asked for something to be explained to them. Both will explain to the help line person exactly why that person is wrong, and what the right solution is. And both will complain (in fact, almost always do complain) to department heads about what they perceive to be a lack of service from the IT department, and the help line in particular.

We can’t really blacklist them, but nobody wants to talk to them.

And now you confidently declare what I do and do not know about? I guess you know more than me about what’s going on in my own head then?

Very interesting, I guess he is the world’s foremost expert on title IX law, because his opinion is worth more than all the other experts cited who disagreed with him? I had no idea we were in the presence of such greatness