Truth is, I didn’t know this word mansplain existed until late last year. But a quick search of its meaning and I realised I had experienced it quite a number of times. It wasn’t something unknown. I knew what it meant even though I didn’t know there was a word to describe it. And I say it’s time to stop mansplaining.
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Well, if you are a woman, I’m sure you do. Even if you hadn’t heard the word before, I’m sure you must have endured it in varying degrees at some point or the other in your life.
“Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence.”
― Rebecca Solnit
A quick google search will tell you that mansplain means (of a man) explain (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.
Typical, isn’t it? Typical to assume that men know better and women don’t. Typical to assume that women always need help and handholding.
How many times has a man thought he is better equipped to express what you want to convey? How many times has a man interrupted you even when you hadn’t finished saying what you started out to say?
I have seen it happen countless times in meetings and on calls. I have seen it happen to far too many women than I would have liked. I have seen it happen to me too. I have experienced it myself and to be honest with you, it felt like an insult each time.
But I’m the kind who doesn’t take kindly to be interrupted, to being ‘helped’ as some men would like to put it. And I’ve always made it perfectly clear as well. In the official lingo of course that makes me ‘bossy’ and ‘sensitive’. Surprisingly, it doesn’t occur to people that I, like other men at my level, know what I want to say, have to say and should say. But that hardly deters those misogynistically inclined, does it?
Why does every other man out there feel they can articulate a woman’s views better than the woman herself?
Needless to say, that needs to change.
Men in boardrooms and the corporate circles find it easy to trample on a woman’s confidence rather than that of one of their own. It has been this way for ages. As it is a woman has to win a lot of battles to climb up the corporate ladder and be taken seriously because let’s face it it’s easy for the powers that be to ignore women while deciding who’d make the cut. So, when she finally makes it to that room where there are hardly any women, imagine what happens to her confidence when a man decides to explain what she meant to say because apparently, she can’t. That’s just mansplaining 101 for you, make the woman look incompetent and unsure in front of everyone else. That’s mansplaining at the worst. Even Justin Trudeau, the poster boy for gender parity seems to be one to mansplain!
Board and meeting rooms across the world are full of men who think they know a woman’s portfolio better than the woman herself. The moment a man says ‘let me explain’ interrupting a woman who might actually be the subject matter expert, he must be asked to stop and wait for his turn to speak.
Time to stop #mansplaining! Click To Tweet
Often women chose to let this kind of overstepping pass to avoid clashes. But I say, we should let these men know that we are perfectly capable of speaking our mind. We should make it clear that we don’t need their handholding.
Of course, the moment a woman does that she is branded difficult to work with. Often, warned of consequences as well. But I say stand your ground and stand tall. These are just tactics to reign you in and keep the balance of power skewed.
Time to stop mansplaining!
The presumption that a woman needs help is what irks me the most. We don’t need unsolicited help. Thanks but no thanks.
Tell me, what do you think?
This post is part of the #FeministMondays series (previously called #IAmAFeminist series) on the blog. Inspired by a TEDx talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – We Should All Be Feminists, I intend to talk about the need for feminism through my posts, posts on my experience and observation as a female. I intend to talk about issues concerning women.
Join me and let’s work towards a world of gender parity. Remember, each voice counts. Tell me your story.