Thus Spake Zuska

The Thread That Keeps On Giving…

That mansplainer thread just won’t quit – it is the gift that keeps on giving. Well, if you can call continuing recitations of the endless ways women are constantly mansplained by the d00dly mainsplainers of the world a “gift”. Along with the mansplainer d00ds who show up to mansplain how mansplaining does not exist, should not be called mansplaining if it does exist, is a benign and non-sexist practice if it does exist, and anyway, I THOUGHT THIS WAS SCIENCEBLOGS WHAT ABOUT THE SCIENCE DEAR GOD WILL NO ONE THINK OF THE POOR SCIENCE????

Which brings us to Ace’s most excellent and apropos comment:

Is there another word like manventing for conjuring elaborate situations in your head that explain away any situations that contradict your “facts”? Ex: I was mansplained to that the reason one of my homework questions was wrong was not because I had simply lost track of a wayward negative sign, but because women cannot understand physics with their poor tiny non-spatial brains. Yet when I pointed out that that I had scored roughly 20% higher in physics on our (non-curved) graduation exams than he, he manvented the “fact” that the government adjusts womens’ scores in math and science to make them feel better. Or something. Because I didn’t actually write a perfect exam, I just scored higher than the rest of the inferior females.

You cannot make this shit up. Oh wait, you can. If you are a manventer.

Ladies of the mansplainer thread, I am happy that you have found community, and a word for that which has so plagued your existence. Naming experience is so very important – once we can give a name to what is happening to us, it has a little less power over us, at least a little less power to make us feel so crazy about it. There’s a whole category on this blog called “naming experience” to reflect that importance. I’m just sorry that there are so many of you, and that your unhappy mansplaining experiences are so varied and many.

Here’s hoping all your mansplainers, with their manvented facts, develop a long-lasting case of laryngitis. I’m talking years-long. May you enjoy the sweet sounds of mansplaining silence, at least for awhile in this month celebrating women’s history.

Comments

  1. #1 MissPrism
    March 11, 2010

    I also like “Manterrupt”. And there really needs to be a word for the phenomenon where a woman says something in a meeting and it’s ignored but then later a man says the same thing to a chorus of approval. I propose “reardiculate”.

    “Simon reardiculated Sarah’s argument and everyone at the meeting agreed.”

  2. #2 SKM
    March 11, 2010

    MissPrism, my brain keeps auto-correcting “reardiculate” to “re-articulate”, but I think I can get used to it with practice.

    It’s funny the names you picked for your anecdote, because my first name is Sarah. Furthermore, I was at one of those research department holiday functions a few years ago and among the other guests was a Big Shot Scientist named Simon. We were chatting in a group with a couple of other men. In the course of the discussion, Simon made a point, the men agreed, and he said, “Really?–It’s what Sarah said three minutes ago”. They had simply ignored me when I said it. I told him if he ever got tired of being a Big Shot Scientist, he could start his own business, called Simon Says, wherein he travels around to business meetings and networking sessions to reardiculate women’s points for them. (I said “repeat”, as I did not yet have the word).

    We laughed, but it’s not too funny, as women would have to pay him for the service–yet another tax on being female.

  3. #3 Sharon Astyk
    March 11, 2010

    I’m glad you are posting more – yay, fun. I think “re-ardiculate” is less likely to be readjusted if you spell it properly “reardickulate” ;-). That “k” just needs to be there.

    I just appeared on a panel at a large scale energy public event – there were three women on the panel in a building full of engineers and builders, mostly male. I made a reference to popular science tv show during my presentation, which was well received, and a gentleman came down to chat with me. What he wanted to share was an obscene joke about that television and something you could do with one of the female leads. When I rolled my eyes and said I thought that was pretty stupid, actually, he apologized saying “you spoke so well, I forgot you were a woman.”

    I’m not sure what the correct word for “wow, you are almost a man” would be, but I think the world needs one.

    Sharon

  4. #4 MissPrism
    March 11, 2010

    SKM – spooky! I suppose reardickulation (and I rather like that spelling tweak!) is common enough that whatever name I chose would fit someone, though. Sigh.

    And I’m really glad that the Simon in your anecdote was enlightened about it. Hurrah for him!

  5. #5 MissPrism
    March 11, 2010

    On second thoughts, I seem to be misreading that as as “rear dickulation” so it probably needs a hyphen to avoid potentially awkward confusion! Sharon, it seems your mind is cleaner than mine.

  6. #6 SKM
    March 11, 2010

    Yeah, I think if one used “reardickulation” it would take less than 10 seconds for the first “joke” about non-consensual anal intercourse to drop.

    MissPrism, I don’t know this Simon well enough to know how far his enlightenment extends, but he’s treated me respectfully in our limited interaction, and, oddly enough, if you look at the staff of the center he directs, you see it’s 50% women, evenly distributed along the power structure (both of his co-directors are women). You also see people of color and even a dude holding his own baby on the Staff photo page. It’s almost like the boss’ attitude affects actual diversity in hiring and promotion, or something.

    But I’m sure it’s all totally just a coincidence.

  7. #7 skeptifem
    March 13, 2010

    I wish the dudes would just listen instead of trying to argue away our experiences. As if any of us ever unthinkingly jumped into feminism, because its so easy and popular. Most of us jumped through some pretty silly mental hoops trying to make mansplaining into something else, because it is difficult to conclude that patriarchy is a real problem. Rationalizing some form of oppression is a shared experience, we have all done it at some point. You are signing up to get treated like shit in a whole new way when you become a feminist, and you actually have to try and do something about the situation instead of sitting back and accepting the world as is. Nothing makes me angrier than women being told that they didn’t go through something when they most certainly did. What dudes need to understand is that a non feminist dude perspective is what we are all saturated in, every day. It is pretty fucking impossible to alert us of it when you cannot avoid hearing it every single day. Feminist opinion has to be sought out, examined because of its distance from the mainstream. Just learning to speak up was a huge challenge for me, I would assume by default that I was not worth listening to. There are so many pieces of myself that I had to fight for that men get for free. They should listen when women talk; we had to earn it.

  8. #8 Karen
    March 13, 2010

    Oh Zuska,
    I totally get your mansplaining!!! I am a middle aged woman who has now reached the point where I have read TONS more than most men but they still know EVERYTHING! I have a puny BA and every guy around me is the king of the world. (I live in Wash DC) Save me from the non scientific, narrow readers, narrow thinkers of the world!
    Karen

  9. #9 Ace
    March 14, 2010

    That was a great thread, it’s nice to be able to say, “Can you believe that happened!” and hear, “No kidding, RIDICULOUS!” every once in a while, instead of, “That didn’t happen at all, and even if it did you deserved it.”

  10. #10 Ace
    March 14, 2010

    Ooh, I have an idea for a new topic!
    How about mansplaining in reverse? Assuming that a woman’s gender magically grants her extensive knowledge of something, for example, washing clothes, cooking, using the photocopier, getting coffee, sewing, child psychology, knitting, clothing fashions, makeup, or what have you.

  11. #11 MissPrism
    March 16, 2010

    As this is a quiet thread that hasn’t yet been invaded by DoucheDoods(tm), I thought I’d describe something that happened yesterday that struck me as a perfect physical illustration of mansplaining.
    I should state first that my boyfriend is a respectful, supportive, understanding, thoughtful and all-round wonderful chap whom I utterly adore, and he hasn’t got a consciously sexist cell in his body. But men like that still do things like this:

    The other day, I bought some new panniers for my bicycle. I cycle more than he does, and I have used panniers for years, and he hasn’t. Anyway, I was holding the pannier, fiddling with the bit that hooks it to the rack so’s to fit my bike. And he came and took it off me. Just lifted it right out of my hands without asking if I wanted any help, and started fiddling with it himself instead.

    A minute later I took it back off him in the same manner. He was upset by this obvious rudeness on my part, but when I explained, it turned out he hadn’t even noticed that he’d done the same. And if I hadn’t been entirely sure that I knew what I was doing just as much as he did, I don’t think I would have noticed either. I’d have let him fix it, thanked him admiringly, and adjusted my own self-confidence in things mechanical down a couple of notches because clearly I couldn’t even fix a pannier to a bike properly.

    That’s what mansplaining does: if you know you’re in the right it’s belittling and infuriating, and if you’re not sure it drains your confidence. And the more it happens the worse it feels.

  12. #12 Skye
    March 16, 2010

    I just wanted to thank you for doing the thread in the first place. I have taught three other women the word mansplain since I read the original post, and it’s just so amazingly useful for an exact kind of experience that took whole sentences to describe before.

  13. #13 Cara
    March 16, 2010

    You are signing up to get treated like shit in a whole new way when you become a feminist, and you actually have to try and do something about the situation instead of sitting back and accepting the world as is. Nothing makes me angrier than women being told that they didn’t go through something when they most certainly did.

    Skeptifem FTW.

  14. #14 Rebecca
    March 17, 2010

    A (male) friend of mine came up with some more “man-” words:

    Manwaving: the evidence-free arguments in mansplainations.

    Mancyclopedia: the source of the “facts” used to support mansplainations.

    Mananimous: deigning to notice the presence of you and your tiny ladybrain, and helping you despite those flaws. (from “magnanimous”) Example: Stan mananimously came to Vera’s rescue, pointing out that she was a Physics major, therefore hung out with nerds, and therefore understood the Monty Python reference.

  15. #15 Angie
    March 25, 2010

    How about mansplaining in reverse? Assuming that a woman’s gender magically grants her extensive knowledge of something, for example, washing clothes, cooking, using the photocopier, getting coffee, sewing, child psychology, knitting, clothing fashions, makeup, or what have you. – Ace

    This happens to me all the time, and [unfortunately?] I AM rather good with cooking and childcare, so it usually ends up going something like this:

    Me: Why do you assume that just because I’m a woman, I know how to take care of kids?
    MAN: But you do, right?
    Me: Yes, but that’s not the point.
    MAN: Then what’s the big deal?

  16. #16 Helen Huntingdon
    April 1, 2010

    I caught a male student doing the same sort of manventing Ace reports to a female student in my lab. I verbally tore him a new one, and she’s happily reported she hasn’t seen him since. He was genially and smilingly telling her that she’s not the best in their joint classes because she performs the best, but because the graders give her extra points; that her lab projects don’t actually work, the T.A.s just pretend they do; and her research adviser is just coddling her along pretending she’s doing real research.

    Unsurprisingly, he can’t keep up with her on tests, homework, or labs, and nobody wants to do research with him because he’s incapable — being a whiny baby who makes up stories to cover for their deficiencies makes you unfit for hard research no matter how special you think you are.

  17. #17 Boudicca
    May 8, 2010

    My favourite recent mansplaining moment was when my father-in-law launched into a lecture on how to build a 60cm (2ft) high retaining wall in our yard. Although I normally cut him off when he over explains things I know how to do, I was curious to see how long he would continue (20 minutes or so as it turns out). After he’d wound down a little I asked him if he remembered what I did for a living. I am a geotechnical engineer who routinely designs retaining walls up to 20m (65ft) high that hold up entire highways.

  18. #18 Isabel
    June 1, 2010

    Sorry looks like the mansplaining thread is closed to comments.

    But check this guy out! He is practically providing material for a mansplaining 101 course as he tries to excuse Pixar’s record of twelve features, with twelve male directors and twelve male protagonists.

    http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/2010/05/pixar.php

  19. #19 Comrade Svilova
    June 1, 2010

    But Isabel, 12 to 1 is a perfectly fine ratio. Women are represented! But their stories are always “other” and “different” so we can’t have too much of them. Instead, most of the stories need to be the ones that appeal to crowds — not pander to crowds, but truly catch the crowds’ attention because they show things that everyone is interested in! And besides, one Pixar movie wasn’t about a dude — it was about a rat. So there!

    My summary. Thanks for taking him to task on that ratio thing. Math is so cool, no?

  20. #20 Yvonne
    June 1, 2010

    And Comrade, don’t forget all of the lady producers at Pixar that prove there is NO SEXISM AT ALL. If Pixar was really sexist, every lady producer would be turning up her cute little nose at a good paycheck and the possibility of gaining enough power to maybe change things.

  21. #21 Comrade Svilova
    June 2, 2010

    And not only did the “lady producer” point out that she is a MOM to the guys, but that really is the way things work for most female producers. It really sucks; I’m a sometimes line producer (on live-action films), and the guys on the crews actually refer to me as “mom” half the time.

    Yeah, a totally non-sexist industry.

  22. #22 Isabel
    June 2, 2010

    I love how he mansplained (I made it clear from the beginning that I was a veteran of the business) that animator/directors used to have engineering backgrounds (WTF??), but now the techniques have been made more “accessible”, and soon female animators will be graduating from animation schools and heading down the pipeline and all will be well!

    Because in the World of Pixar (it’s not a studio, it’s a World) a director has a Vision, and no one (not even the Disney suits) dares interfere with that vision! yeah right. And male animation school graduates have “visions” about males. And producer moms don’t need special skills- except being supportive, multi-tasking Moms, which women are great at!

    Anyway, how could the studio be considered sexist when they’ve just greenlighted film #13 to be directed by a female who has a “vision” about a Princess? Is that your definition of sexist? if it is maybe you’re just projecting your own experiences?

  23. #23 Comrade Svilova
    June 2, 2010

    Yup. The whole industry is sexist, and Pixar is no exception. Why (some) guys refuse to acknowledge that is (almost) a mystery to me.

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