Mansplaining – ‘The explanation of something by a man, typically to a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronising.’
We’ve all been there, right?
In 2018, Journalist Kim Godwin identified that while easy to define in literal terms, Mansplaining is difficult to explain. Godwin constructed this diagram for her male colleagues to navigate mansplaining, and it went viral, starting a worldwide conversation.
Why is this behaviour an issue?
When a man offers an unrequited explanation or challenges a woman’s more expert opinion, it assumes that superiority is gendered.
Mansplaining also implies that gender is a more significant indication of competence than education and experience.
Where can ‘Mansplaining’ occur?
Mansplaining behaviour is most commonly realised within the workplace however can occur in any environment where there is an exchange between males and females.
How do I know it is happening to me or if I am mansplaining?
Here are three scenarios in which mansplaining is likely to be occurring:
- A less educated man is challenging a woman’s expert opinion.
- An explanation is provided by a male when it is unrequited to a female.
- A female is being ignored or repeatedly interrupted for no reason.
If I am mansplaining, how can I stop it?
Changing culture is a slow process that requires individual and institutional change. In day-to-day life, three strategies you could try to make personal changes include:
- Acknowledging your gender bias and reflect on how it impacts your relationships with others.
- Be an ally to other females by not being a bystander when you recognise fellow males who are mansplaining.
- Become an active listener when conversing with others and think before you speak. Ask yourself whether you are providing an unwanted explanation.
Remember that being surrounded by people who are more intelligent or have more expertise than yourself, regardless of their gender, is not associated with your own self-worth or masculinity.
I think I am experiencing mansplaining; what can I do about it?
While it is unfortunate that this is occurring in your life, the most important thing is that you have detected the behaviour.
By being actively aware of Mansplaining, you are gaining your power back.
The next step, of course, is to be equipped with the tools to combat the behaviour. This could include:
- Having pre-prepared responses to mansplainers to draw light on their behaviour.
- Do not be afraid to challenge their behaviour, asking them why they decided to contribute, especially since some mansplaining behaviours are unintentional.
- Empower yourself to speak loudly and be assertive.
It is also essential that women support each other and be an ally to other women. This could involve asking your female colleague to contribute while you have everyone’s attention during a work meeting. Being an ally could also include having helpful conversations with male and female friends to ensure they reflect on the relationships in their own lives as well.
How you manage mansplaining is, of course, circumstantial. However, the reality is that this behaviour can occur in our every day without women or men realising it.