By Aashika Ravi
Originally published on 25 July 2018.
On the count of three, women everywhere, recall your worst mansplaining moment. I’ll share mine to get us going.
A friend and I were having a conversation about why I don’t watch porn, to which I said I felt it was a bit voyeuristic. His response- “You do know that porn is acting right? It’s an industry.” Wow sir, in my 20 something years of life, this porn industry you speak of has somehow completely eluded my existence. Till now I was of the impression that porn ninjas were secretly filming people having sex and putting it on the internet.
I said as much, but it’s easier to fight it out with a friend than in a professional setting, where you normally resort to the forced smile and clenched teeth with just a hint of an Is Your Sermon Over Yet expression when that over-helpful uncle tries to dumb down something for your lady brain, which you’ve probably majored in (that too, in this decade).
If you’re prone to being one of these clueless men, and don’t want to feature in women’s Top 10 Worst Mansplainers lists, author of Designing for the Digital Age, Kim Goodwin has designed a helpful infographic to find out if you are engaging in the oft-dreaded, always unamusing mansplaining.
Of course, there were The Outraged™ who took up pitchforks and lined up with their useful contributions. Twitter user Derek Nankivell was of the opinion that Goodwin was engendering an issue that could happen in any human interaction. “Why make this a gendered issue? What you are basically defining here is condescending behaviour that can happen in any human interaction, regardless of gender. I take offence at the sexist implication that this is a male oriented behaviour.” Goodwin promptly shut him down, saying that “the behaviour is predominantly gendered.”
Another reply on the tweet was by Shane Guymon, who tried and failed to make #womansplaining a thing.
A common reaction to mansplaining in general, seems to be that men are overflowing with enthusiasm that they just can’t help but share. This was echoed by travel journalist David Whitley, who said “A lot of what gets termed as mansplaining is just men trying to share enthusiasm or make conversation, and should be treated as the well-meaning clumsiness it is.” Women of course, have never felt enthusiasm of any kind about anything in life, and hence don’t struggle to contain it.
Other people felt that it was somehow infringing on their freedom of speech. Twitter user Sonia Ramos Velarde gave us this gem. “If I want to explain something to man or woman, I will do it, just because of free speech. If someone feels bad because of that, then they need to go to a good psychologist.” Uh, okay.
Fortunately, Goodwin was spared a lot of energy when Virginia Roberts, another Twitter user responded with this great thread on intent and privilege, and why fragile men should not feel personally attacked by Goodwin’s graphic.
If you’re looking for other resources on How Not to Be a Mansplainer 101, even if just to amuse yourself, here’s a flowchart from ye olden times (2015, to be exact) by Elle Armageddon, who was inspired to create the work of art after a man tried to explain ascending and descending street numbers to her.