Once, when I was a very unworldly 29 year old, I worked alongside a person who was much older, white and male.
Boy, did he know his stuff. It seemed there was nothing he didn’t know. And even when he didn’t know something, he would masterfully explain it anyway, and just hope like hell his audience of one didn’t have their copy of Encarta nearby.
It was 1999, and Encarta was all there was.
There was very limited social interaction over the internet, and no ostensible means to say to anyone
I work with this guy, and he keeps on trying to explain things to me. Things I never asked for to begin with, and things that are riddled with errors
Had I had such a safe place to rest my questions, I would have found out that I was being subjected to what is now called “Mansplaining”.
I would be sitting there, just typing something on my PC, or perhaps mixing a cup of Special Blend in an Arcoroc cup and a shadowy figure would materialize behind me and I’d whip round for another lengthy session of mansplaining.
It seemed to happen when I was alone, vulnerable, or especially busy. There’d be explanations about dating, relationships, what happens to women’s figures after childbirth, even menopause. It was strikingly confident and strikingly ill-informed.
I would stand there for the duration and nod, and say “I know, I know”. Because what else is there to say?
It turns out, that even in this supposedly post-feminist era (because all the gender imbalances have been redressed, haven’t they) it’s even more of a scourge than ever.
On Twitter, Facebook and in real life, educated white males are mansplaining up a storm.
Bunches of women having a quiet chat about paid parental leave? Let the man cut in and explain! Shared care or divorce dilemmas? Let the man squish onto the bench seat and explain!
You will most certainly come away with a sense of refreshed wonder. “Now, why didn’t I think of it that way?” you shake your head, incredulous at your own lack of insight and general ignorance.
What’s behind it, though? Some say it’s another form of white male privilege, the assumption by Western males that a certain special amount of space is reserved just for them and their ideas and splayed leg style of sitting (termed manspreading).
I think it needs to be stopped in its tracks.
How many of us women are walking around having had labour pain mansplained to us? Or listened to endless mansplained discourse about fat distribution on the female form?
I genuinely can’t stand it. Please stop.
Next time on The Sane Companion: Manspreading — unless you are Mark ‘Bison Balls’ Tierney, is there any real need?