As a woman, having something ‘mansplained’ to you is arguably one of the most frustrating things on the planet. No one likes a condescending jackass and no one likes being spoken to in a patronising manner. It’s rather like the time my husband asked me to check the oil in my van, and when I reported back to him that it was good, he said he’d check it himself. Needless to say, that didn’t go well for him. He’s usually not bad for this type of thing, but on this occasion it escaped his memory that I worked for four and a half years at a full service gas station. I’ve pulled more dipsticks than he’s ever seen.
But the other day, I was perusing Twitter and reading responses to a recent Villainesse article, and a comment caught my attention. A twitter user took offence to said article, which was written by a man about the white-girl stereotype. She accused him of mansplaining. Now, maybe we were reading a different article, but nowhere in his words did I sense any of the condescending or patronising attitudes that would be indicative of a mansplainer.
The fact of the matter is women aren’t treated as equals. It’s something my own Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, highlights over and over as he calls for equality at every opportunity. One of his first actions after being elected was to appoint a cabinet that was fifty percent women. Is he mansplaining because he’s telling the world that women aren’t equal, but should be? No. Was Seb Starcevic mansplaining by expressing his personal disgust for the white girl stereotype? No.
Mansplaining, or, as I like to call it, being a condescending jackass, is when you’re Matt Damon and you interrupt Effie Brown, a director and woman of color, to explain diversity in filmmaking to her. If you called that mansplaining, you’d be correct.
It’s not mansplaining to have an opinion. It’s certainly not mansplaining to express your disgust for how members of the opposite gender are treated. It’s not mansplaining to point out that you don’t like something that arguably has little to do with you. We actually need more people, of all genders, ages and ethnicities, to step up and say they don’t like this kind of thing.
Now, you could probably find a way to accuse me of ‘womansplaining’ but we don’t use that term, as that would be sexist… wait… what? A woman being called a womansplainer would be sexist? Yep. Anytime you single out a behaviour and slap a gender label on it, you’re being sexist. So people who accuse men of mansplaining are technically being sexist, even if they’re right. Women mansplain too. The only difference is we don’t call it womansplaining. We call it things like ‘putting him in his place’ or ‘winning the argument’.
The term mansplaining needs to die. Let’s drop the gender labels and call it what it really is, being a condescending jackass. And a young guy speaking up to say that a reductive stereotype that a group of women have to deal with is gross? That’s about as far from condescending jackass as you can get.