The Annoying Existence of Mansplaining and the Misogynistic Culture that Breeds It
Have you ever made a statement, or penned your thoughts to a post and out of nowhere some guy comes and tries to invalidate your piece with his “explanation?” Or have you made an obvious observation that you pose as a rhetorical question only to have a guy offer is two cents (that wasn’t’ solicited at all?) In fact, have you ever just existed and have had a man on more than a dozen occasions offer his knowledge and description of your existence? If you have answered yes to any of the mentioned scenarios, and can add a few of your own, then you have been a victim of mansplaining. The concept of mansplaining is relatively new, however, the practice is centuries old! It may be the oldest communications practice between man and woman since sex (and even that has drawbacks!)
There is no way accurately pinpoint when and where mansplaining started but it lives inside the culture of misogyny and male chauvinism. And as I type this, there is a guy in my inbox that didn’t realize he was curved because he was so busy trying to prove me wrong, but I digress. Mansplaining is annoying, tiresome, and if I had my way it would carry a death sentence for all men that employ it. Yes, that is rather harsh but extreme tactics are needed to end this nonsense. Here’s the sad part, most men are oblivious to their mansplaining; hurtfully obtuse.
The ideologies of misogyny and male chauvinism are so deeply engrained inside societal norms that to even challenge the existence creates this huge tension that men cannot handle. When women-let me be a bit more specific, when black women tend to speak on our existence and the views that which affect us, people go through great lengths to discredit us. We are asked more times than necessary to prove our truths. We are rebutted and counterclaimed, and often dissected to a point where men only want to prove our points invalid. Yes, it happens; it is a thing, and if you refuse to believe me, as Amanda Seales about her CNN interview in 2014.
When a woman brought up the argument of cat calling and the legitimacy of its harassment, here comes a certified ‘mansplainer’ to invalidate the argument based on his existence and knowledge of the situation. This happens EVERYDAY. Right now, there is a woman side-eyeing her computer screen or twitching her neck in response to some off based explanation offered by some man. Let’s be clear, on a few things. First, please know that a solicited, invited call to conversation by a woman to a man to discuss a topic that holds interest is never a bad thing. It is welcomed. Men may know more knowledge on a particular subject and your expertise is welcomed. We appreciate that type of exchange. What is not welcomed is the offering of opinions, ideologies, or any type of invalidation because you are a man and your infantile opinion trumps others because of such.
Misogyny, male chauvinism, even the “man is the head” mantra has lead to the development of microaggressions such as mansplaining. There is no equity placed on male/female relationships. It has always been man above woman, and everything subsequent due to the lack of equity in these relationships has led us to a point where there is friction whenever a black woman asserts herself or brings light to her truth. Black women are oftentimes less believed as victims of rape or violence. We are often less believed as victims of workplace discrimination because we are stereotyped so negatively. We are the first ones you call when something needs to be handled but we are the very last ones to be promoted to CEO positions. Thus, when it comes to mansplaining we get are overwhelming share.
No matter how educated we are, nor how eloquent we speak, the often on cue and endless offerings of pointless opinions is enough to side eye folks with the intensity of a thousand suns.
Unsolicited opinions are going to be given, we accept that. What we do not accept is the manner under which they are given. We are not here to be patronized nor made a mockery of. Our truths are valid, our opinions are sound, and for the record they are not short of proper vetting. Black women have to be more thorough than the Harvard Law review (see Angela Rye, Simone Sanders) to make sure that we are taken seriously and are credible. We do not need your explanation for something that happens in our existence. What we do need is your support, conversation, and most importantly for you to show up when we need you.
There’s no power struggle here, there is plenty of room at the table for everyone to be seen and heard equally. (Here comes the appropriately timed Black Panther reference). T’Challa/Black Panther is king but he makes no move without the council and protection of Okoye of the Dora Milaje. There is equity in that relationship and not one shred of mansplaining. Yes, it is fiction but great fiction derives from reality, does it not. There are far too many things wrong with the world to be the guy that is so full of himself that he has to invalidate women’s conversation to feel satisfied.
Instead try this, listen to our conversations intensely without the intention to respond at all. In other words, just listen. Then, when you have not only heard what we have said but can empathize in some way, make an altruistic effort to change the way you have conversations with women; also, change the way you have conversations with men about women. As long as there is a cycle that is breeding this behavior, it won’t end.