Every man out there knows what mansplaining means – it’s when a man explains something to someone in a manner viewed as condescending or patronising.
Even explaining the concept is kind of mansplaining. This whole article might even be classed as mansplaining. But this is mansplaining aimed squarely at men – in most cases, mansplaining tends to involved a man talking down to women. But this is all common knowledge, I’m just summarising.
It’s also common knowledge that a lot of men probably mansplain without even realising it. This isn’t a criticism per se – most men, including here at loaded, have fallen into the trap. The tendency to mansplain is one of the by-products of existing in a patriarchal society where the thoughts and opinions of men are often seen to hold more weight, regardless of their actual content. Sorry, but it’s true.
Being aware of the concept of mansplaining is a good starting point but to truly tackle the issue, men need to try ask themselves a few things in any conversation that might veer into this territory.
This article isn’t meant as some patronising “how to” guide – you can take or leave the advice that follows. We really don’t give a toss. Go and shout down people in conversation to assert your authority if you really must, no one can stop you, but they will probably think you are a douche.
No, this is designed more for the guys that might be unaware that they are doing it but eager to change and wake up to the fact that this is 2017 and men kind of need to listen more. The rest of you can do what you like.
In order to assess whether you are guilty of mansplaining, it could be useful to start by asking whether the person you are speaking to even asked for your opinion on the topic at hand in the first place and, more importantly, are you knowledgeable on this particular subject?
If they did and you know what you are talking about, then fine. If they didn’t, then you’re probably mansplaining about something they couldn’t give two tosses about. And if you don’t know what you’re talking about, then why do you even care? Drop it.
Next, before you start flying in with your own opinions, find out how much the person you are speaking to knows about the topic.
Explaining something to someone already well versed in the subject is about as embarrassing as walking round a party all night with your zipper undone. You look dumb to everyone but will probably be unaware of the issue until it is too late. So make sure you check before wading in.
Cut the crap: if you don’t know something, just say it rather than trying to blag and bluster your way through a response. We all have that one mate who likes to think of himself as an expert on everything. He’s usually that one mate that everyone thinks is a bit of a dick. The kind of guy you might mock behind his back – or even too his face.
Don’t be that guy. It’s might sound obvious, but that’s mainly because it is : people always prefer honesty. So bringing up research or stories you have only half read and half understood is likely to leave you looking like a complete ass. Base it on your own experience and knowledge. Nothing else.
Other than that, there are a couple of physiological signals to look out for. Signs that you are mansplaining and potentially dull as fuck. Say if you find yourself saying something like “I don’t think you understand” or some variation, well you’re mansplaining and furthermore you’re being a douch.
Alternatively, if the other person has taken to half smiling, nodding and occasionally going “mmhmm” rather than engaging in back and forth discourse you’re mansplaining. Sometimes the best conversations are the ones where you deliberately hold back and let the other person speak. Listen.
And finally, above all else, be respectful. There are far too many Goddam people in the world unwilling to listen to alternative viewpoints. Try not to be one of them. You don’t have to agree but you need to respect their right to an opinion..