What are examples of “mansplaining” with context?
Answered by: C.S. Friedman
On Quora, there is a question asking about relative pain in the male experience, specifically comparing various types of damage to being kicked in the balls.
One male respondent elaborated upon how much that hurt, and compared it to kidney stones, which he said were worse. Then he compared that to childbirth, which he said was not as bad as kidney stones, therefore was not as bad as being kicked in the balls. (I am reducing a long and complicated explanation here, but you get the idea.)
Several women responded with the obvious, that as he was not a woman and had never experienced childbirth, so he had no clue how much it did or did not compare to any other pain. He responded by saying that childbirth is like very bad menstrual cramps, and those are just like having indigestion.
I am sure you can imagine how women responded. It didn’t matter. He knew more about how pregnancy and menstrual cramps felt than women did.
To a mansplainer, men just understand more about things in general. Women need things explained to them, as they are not objective about their own experience. There is also a list of things that one can expect a woman to be ignorant about, so that one launches into an explanation of the basics without first trying to see if help is needed. They are women, so their ignorance is assumed.
An example of the latter which I have run into: My dad taught me how to change a tire as soon as I learned to drive. Several times I’ve had to do so. Sometimes a guy has stopped to offer help, and asked, “Do you need a hand?” All cool. If I needed help, I accepted the offer, if not he went on his way. But one time a guy stopped, watched as I got out my tools, and started explaining the proper technique for loosening the lug nuts before jacking up the car. Duh. would he have assumed that a guy who was acting like he knew how to change a tire would not know how to take the lug nuts off properly? I doubt it.
If you would be equally condescending to a man, that’s just rudeness. If you would not make the same assumption of ignorance about a male, that is mansplaining.
Sometimes there is borderline stuff. Me at an auto shop:
“My sparkplugs are not working right. Either the contacts need cleaning or plugs need replacing. Please check them out and do whatever needs to be done.”
“How do you know it is the sparkplugs?”
“I know what it feels like when they are not connected properly. There’s an odd hesitation that I have learned to recognize. I am feeling that. Please check the sparkplugs.”
“Usually you can’t feel when the sparkplugs go bad. “
“But I can. So would you please check them?”
That went on for a while, including an explanation of how spark plugsplugs worked, and that checking them was a big deal. Finally they agreed to do the work, saying they would do a diagnostic for me if the sparkplugs were working properly. (They weren’t.)
Now, was that just auto mechanic arrogance, or were they assuming that because I was a woman I couldn’t diagnose my own car trouble? I’ve seen men at auto repair shops, and if they come in with a very specific request, in a tone that suggests they know how cars work, they are taken seriously.