Mansplaining. It’s a word that induces cringes from coast-to-coast… mostly in men. Unfortunately it’s a reality for many women – and also unfortunately – it’s often misused, rendering it meaningless to those who need to understand it the most.
Mansplaining is not when a man explains something to a woman. Mansplaining is when a man condescendingly (“well, actually”) explains something to a woman who is just as knowledgeable, if not more knowledgeable on the topic as he is. Mansplaining stems from what I call the “Prove It” Culture – the misogynistic tendency of men to refuse to believe or accept that a woman could be knowledgable about a traditionally male topic. Sports, heavy metal, comic books, video games, cars, etc.
Here is an example from third grade: It was the height of the Bulls dynasty. My mom was a Bulls fanatic, and my little brother an aspiring basketball player. Basketball was the topic of conversation around the dinner table more often than not. I went to school in a Chicago Bulls t-shirt and was immediately confronted by a male classmate, who challenged me to “name three players.” When I was able to (duh, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan and Horace Grant were gods in the Chicago suburbs) some other insult was hurled my way.
As as adult I have been challenged to “prove it” over my love of thrash metal, professional wrestling, and mixed martial arts. I have yet to meet a man who has ever had to prove that his interests were genuine. In fact, when I jokingly challenged a male friend to “name three Venom songs” when I first posted this video, he actually did it because he didn’t realize I was kidding. No one had ever done that to him before.
Now that I’m older, and have established myself pretty well as a person knowledgable about the things I speak about most often, I get less “prove it,” and more “well, actually.” This happens most often in my profession. I’ve spent the last 10 years as a marketing professional – specializing in social media strategy. Despite the fact that I’ve grown various brands’ I’ve worked for’s social media following by more than 600% in a period as short as six months, I still get social media bros “well actually-ing” me about everything from the best way to run an Instagram contest to the most effective hashtag strategies.
This is a really long intro for this video, but I know this is a subject people are very confused by, so I wanted to give it some context. When I recorded this Instagram story a few days ago I’d had two mansplaining incidents happen to me in a row and it was just too much.
Please be aware that I cuss like a sailor in this video (I was so, so mad) and, as always, the opinions expressed here are mine, and do not reflect the opinions of any of my clients or employers.
What do you think about mansplaining? Has it happened to you? Have you done it to others? Tell me in the comments!