This might make me a bad feminist, and probably get me excluded from any gender studies programs that I might theoretically want to enter, but I really hate the word “mansplaining”. Urbandictionary defines the word as “inaccurate explanations delivered with rock solid confidence of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation”.
I’ve heard the term used twice, once at a lecture/roundtable discussion on gender issues in domestic violence law, and the other in an online forum discussing tzniut. In both contexts, the conversation went something like this: A topic on gender was being discussed. A man offered a possible explanation for something seemingly “anti-women”. A woman angrily disagreed with the man, and told him he was wrong by saying “Thanks for mansplaining that to me, but you’re wrong”.
To me, the problem with the word is that it makes assumptions about the accuracy of a person’s argument, just based on his gender. It’s the same exact problem that feminists have been fighting for years, only the roles are now reversed. If a woman offers a possible reason as to why male domestic violence victims are offered fewer victim services than women, she’s adding to the discussion, but if a man offers the same explanation, he’s “mansplaining”, and therefore wrong and obnoxious.
Isn’t this the same type of behavior feminists have been trying to fight, when the behavior is at the expense of women? Sheryl Sandberg laments how male CEOs are viewed as keen businessmen, but the same CEO with the same traits but female is viewed as “mean, hostile, and agressive”. If a man plays hardball in a negotiation, or demands perfection from his employees, he’s doing business as usual, but if a woman does the same thing, she’s Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. Feminists say this attitude is part of the reason for the glass ceiling, and is holding women back from achieving as much as they can. Still, we downplay men when they try to address the problems that we tell them are problems, simply because they are men.
Newsflash women, it’s okay for men to be feminists. It’s also okay for men to want to help solve “women’s problems”. Look, the fact of the matter is, if men want to help work towards solutions for gender inequality, we should welcome them with open arms, not shoot down their totally legitimate voices by accusing them of “mansplaining”. What we’re saying when we use that term is, “I don’t really care what you just said, because you’re a man and I don’t trust men’s motives”. That’s not just unfair, it’s the epitome of a double standard.
To me, “mansplaining” is just as offensive a term as “that’s so gay/retarded” or “Don’t Jew with me”. It’s simple, really: If women don’t want to be judged based on their gender, we shouldn’t do the same to men.