Do you actually know how much the woman you’re talking to knows about the same subject?
Too many of us were taught to divide knowledge into separate spheres: “guy” topics like video games, cars, and sports; “girly” subjects like fashion, children, and celebrity gossip. Mansplaining happens quickly when a guy presumes that women don’t know much (or aren’t particularly interested in) man stuff.
Are you using your supposed expertise to prove something about your manhood?
Masculine culture –- what Michael Kimmel calls “Guyland” –- places a premium on demonstrating proficiency, in talk if not in action. Casual conversation about sports, for example, isn’t just a way for men to pass the time or to break the ice. It’s an opportunity to display one’s guy credentials. As this classic ESPN ad shows, the great fear for so many men is to be caught talking out of their asses. Too many men, anxious to prove their be-penised bona fides, forget the old saying about it being better to stay silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt. When you’re talking to prove expertise rather than to connect with another person, the chances are high you’re mansplaining.
When she talks, are you listening to what she’s saying or merely rehearsing your next line?
One of the hallmarks of mansplaining is that the ‘splainer is rarely really hearing what his interlocutor is saying when she speaks. He may be listening, but his focus is less on taking in what a woman is saying to him –- and more on how he can shape his next sentence to prove his point. A mansplainer uses a woman’s turn to talk to think about how he can better marshal his arguments for his next salvo.
Are you talking about your own experience, or are you universalizing about how everyone feels? Are you explaining her experience to her?
We all have theories about why people do what they do. A lot of us enjoy analyzing other people. Where that normal human penchant slips into mansplaining is when a particular guy assumes he knows more about women than the woman to whom he’s speaking. Men do this partly out of arrogant presumptuousness, and partly out of an eagerness to demonstrate that they “aren’t like other guys.” In a world where men assume (not entirely incorrectly) that most other fellas don’t know very much about women, proving that “you’re the guy who gets it” presents itself as a promising strategy for impressing the ladies. It rarely works as well as mansplainers hope.
Do you actually know what you’re talking about?
As Rebecca Solnit pointed out in her original post on the subject, mansplaining at its heart is about the cocksuredness of the ignorant. It’s one thing to be an insufferable know-it-all when one actually does know it all. It’s another thing –- a mansplainy thing –- to pretend you know more about botany or fractals or Riot Grrl than you actually do. A mansplainer presumes that the actual truth matters less than the calm confidence or rhetorical flourish with which he explains his version of the facts. (See Ryan, Paul.) A willingness to admit what one doesn’t know, accompanied by a genuine expression of interest in learning something new, is an excellent vaccine against mansplaining.
I know I don’t post on here often, but I need some help and all you have to do is click, scroll, click, THE END. This is a photo contest for the Nashville Scene, a very popular weekly magazine in, uh, Nashville. I could win $300 (been out of commission for a few months, y’all) and buy everyone on Earth a new bed and socks. Only 30 were selected so I already feel honored.
Voting is once DAILY until February 19. Use multiple devices to vote multiple times?
That there photo has a story and this is it:
I was working for a company who hires people to take photos of marathon runners pre, post, and during the marathon. This was at the very cold, rainy Nashville marathon: the first marathon after the tragedy at the Boston Marathon in April 2013. Standing there, I took out my phone and snapped an interesting shot; the security was very high at the event. Eventually myself and my boo thang, who was working with me, headed to our new locations at the finish line. Folks, I was terrified. I’m often irrational with my fears like bridges, elevators, and dill pickle chips. And I was soaked from head to toe in cold rain and couldn’t feel my feet and my hands locked up looking like claws and my soul lost it’s feels. All them feels.
Moral of the story: my phone quit working after that day and please click the link above thank you for your consideration I am the one who knocks goodbye.
I can’t help but remember what it was like to be so confused and scared that I was GAY and then seeing a really dumb TV show (The O.C.) with the most stereotypical bisexual storyline…and you know? It really helped me. AND I lived 27 years of my life between California, Massachusetts, and New York City. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be some scared religious kid with a parent railing against “homosexuals!” and having never met anyone who is LGBTQI and OUT.
I know it feels right to bash pop culture for its 99.9% idiocy rate (but not Katy Perry), but sometimes it’s the only lifeline to the far reaches of our society that those of us who got out can sometimes forget still exists.
"Poverty colors nearly everything about your perspective on opportunities for advancement in life. Middle class, educated people assume that anyone can achieve their goals if they work hard enough. Folks steeped in poverty rarely see a life past working at the gas station, making the rent on their trailer, and self-medicating with cigarettes and prescription drugs until they die of a heart attack. (I’ve just described one whole side of my family and the life I assumed I’d be living before I lucked out of it.)
And listen, recognizing Privilege doesn’t mean suffering guilt or shame for your lot in life. Nobody’s saying that Straight White Middle Class Able-Bodied Males are all a bunch of assholes who don’t work hard for what they have. Recognizing Privilege simply means being aware that some people have to work much harder just to experience the things you take for granted (if they ever can experience them at all.)”
“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”—
Imagine you’re a writer, but the words won’t come. Could you bargain with creativity to get past your writer’s block? Oliver Sacks found himself in that very situation back in 1968: he was struggling to finish his first book, and got stuck. He imposed a deadline on himself that, while it got him writing again, came with a terrible cost. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of Eat Pray Love…one of the most popular books ever), wanted to find a way to, as she puts it, “live a creative life without cutting your ear off.” She offers some advice for doing …