Welcome to the second installment of Mansplain Monday. Last time I wrote about men who mansplain statistics to me. Of course, as any woman on the internet knows, if you mention the word “mansplaining” inevitably men will respond by mansplaining mansplaining to you. This week I’d like to go a little bit meta and discuss some of the common responses to my last post about mansplaining.
This happens to men too so why are you making it about gender? You are the one being sexist! I don’t even see gender!
This was by far the most common complaint about the term mansplaining and these are just a couple of the many examples in this same vein. This is also the most common complaint that comes from well-meaning men who are not typically the ones going around being misogynistic assholes to every woman they see. They just honestly don’t understand why women use the term “mansplaining” for something that seems to happen to everyone regardless of gender. Of course any person with opinions that they put out into the world will sometimes come across another person who criticizes them in a condescending manner, often with personal insults rather than tackling the content of what they said. So what does gender have to do with it?
What these men don’t seem to understand is that even though “splaining,” which I’ll define here as a person condescendingly explaining something to another person who already knows quite a bit about the topic and therefore doesn’t need an explanation, is something that happens to both men and women by both men and women, it is far more common for men to “splain” to women than any other gender combination. But don’t worry, you don’t even have to rely on women’s word that this is true because science backs it up.
For example, even though men tend to dominate talking in conversations and meetings, everyone still perceives women as talking more than they actually do. Additionally, even though women talk less, when they do talk men tend to interrupt them at much higher rates than they do other men. On top of all this, women are often perceived as less competent than they actually are while men are often seen as more competent than they are. In fact, in studies where people give performance evaluations to fake people with either male or female names, when asked to specifically focus on merit they were more likely to rate men as more qualified than women. Even outside the lab environment, there is ample evidence that women are more often than not underrated in their abilities.
All of these things together leads to a world where men talk more than women, interrupt women, and believe they are more qualified than women to be speaking. Is it any wonder that this leads to an epidemic of men “splaining” things to women? So yes, sometimes men are “splained” to, but women have to deal with this phenomenon much more often in their daily lives and the perpetrator is almost always a man. Just because men don’t always mention gender in their “splaining” doesn’t mean it has nothing to do with gender. Many men may say they don’t see gender when criticizing another human being, but the science shows that they are likely seeing women as less qualified and more likely to talk over them. In other words, they may not be consciously aware of it, but they are sometimes treating women differently than they do men. Women use the term “mansplaining” to make it clear that men “splaining” things to women is a gendered phenomenon that we experience at rates higher than do men, to the point where it’s tiring to always have to intellectually defend ourselves against men. Hey men, instead of insisting that someone once did the same thing to you, maybe just listen to women and trust us when we say that this is happening to us all the time.
So now everything that men say to women is automatically mansplaining? I bet you’re going to call this comment mansplaining now JUST BECAUSE I’M A MAN!
Yes Doug, any comments you make claiming that mansplaining doesn’t exist do actually fall into the realm of mansplaining because you as a man are trying to explain to women what their own experiences as women consist of. In other words, you are assuming you are more qualified and knowledgable to speak on the subject of women’s own life experience better than actual women are. What could possibly make you think that?
I’m not mansplaining! It’s just that you are unqualified to be speaking!
In the last Mansplain Monday, I wrote about how men are always questioning my qualifications to be writing on statistical topics even though both my academic and career background make me more than qualified in that area. Specifically, I posted a screenshot of a comment from Willis. Willis saw my Mansplain Monday post on facebook and jumped into the conversation to defend himself.
My favorite part of this exchange is that Willis started by criticizing my post and writing style then 30 minutes later actually bothered to read my post and learned that it was written about him. Apparently he didn’t need to actually read my post to mansplain to me everything I did wrong in it.
But don’t worry, Willis just dug his hole deeper from there. In the first edition of Mansplain Monday, I actually listed many of my qualifications in statistics in order to show men like Willis, who constantly tell me I shouldn’t dare to speak about anything quantitative, that I am in fact an expert on the topic and have a right to speak on it as an expert. Willis responded by insinuating that I’m lying about any qualifications I claim to have and then simultaneously dismissing any of my claimed qualifications as not qualified enough.
His second comment was particularly confusing because in the post he was talking about I was criticizing a model created by a political science professor at Stony Brook University, but apparently that’s the “New York Post” and not an “actual scientist.”
Also, I’m now not allowed to speak unless I have multiple published peer reviewed articles that I must then list to my audience before speaking so that they know I’m worth listening to. Willis though is free to declare that I’m not qualified enough to speak without the need to submit a resume proving his own qualifications.
The thing that really gets me about all this is that at no point did Willis ever actually point out anything I got wrong or indeed any point in which he disagreed with my analysis. He’s disparaging me not because of anything in the content of my writing but merely because I’m a woman writing about it and women can only speak after they’ve proven their worth via years of academic research and published studies.
Go make me a sandwich!
But no, all these men are right. Mansplaining definitely doesn’t exist. This has nothing to do with gender.
Special thanks to @TheCogitoBlog for sending me screenshots of some of the comments that had since been deleted.