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Before I get into it, I just want to say that I can see how it’s weird for a man to write an article on mansplaining because that may come off as some sort of meta-mansplaining where a man is mansplaining mansplaining. I’m not saying that me getting talked to condescendingly by a guy is the same as when a man mansplains something to a woman. All I’m saying is that I was learning about mansplaining, and I learned that guys do this to other guys too because it happened to me.
I got called out for mansplaining once. It was something like explaining how we have time to cross the street even though the red hand was flashing. I just never really thought about how that would make someone feel until I was called out. I mean, think about how you’d feel if you didn’t want to rush to cross the street and then some dickhead starts explaining to you how traffic lights work. I’d want to slap the lips off their face.
I didn’t really understand what mansplaining was, so I did research. I watched a bunch of testimonials and read articles to try and learn. For quick reference, Merriam-Webster defines mansplaining as “what occurs when a man talks condescendingly to someone, especially a woman, about something he has incomplete knowledge of, with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he’s talking to does.”
I read an article about a guy who tried to over explain this book he skimmed through to a woman that, as it turns out, had actually written the book. How embarrassing is that? Imagine you meet a girl at a bar and you’re talking to her about how much you love Betty White in Golden Girls and you’re going on and on and then all of a sudden you realize you’ve been talking to Betty White the whole time. First of all, how drunk are you that you’re hitting on a 96-year-old lady, you monster? More importantly, now you look dumb because you just explained The Golden Girls to THE Golden Girl.
I don’t want to be that guy, so I started trying to catch myself before I said anything that could come off as mansplaining, and that’s when I noticed how often other guys would weirdly explain simple things to me. My coworkers, my dad, even my friends all explained the most annoyingly basic shit to me like I was 7 years old.
My dad explained to me how a credit card worked, even though I’ve singlehandedly opened, managed, and paid for my multiple credit cards for years. I told him that I know not to spend over 20% of the credit limit and to pay it off each month, but he still repeated it back to me anyway. I watched football with a friend, and he would point out all NFL players who went to my Alma Matter, University of Texas, like I’m not aware of how prolific DBU is (Hook ‘Em). At a bar, I had another friend tell me with a straight face that it’s more expensive, but he likes Makers Mark whiskey better than bottom-shelf whiskey because it tastes better. I was like, “Damn, you should write a book.”
My ex-coworker was the worst one. He was twice my age with the same job title and joined my team from a different division after I had already worked under my manager for a year. In meetings, our manager would assign us different tasks, and anytime I would be assigned anything, no matter how small a task, he would interrupt the whole meeting to give me a two sentence explanation of whatever the task was and say “It’s really easy, I can show you later.” This 47-year-old man deadass explained to me, a 25-year-old who grew up on the Internet, how to quickly copy and paste things in Excel in a room full of our superiors. Was it because I was the youngest guy? Was he doing this on purpose just to make himself look better? Is all of this behavior stemming from him having a micropenis? I couldn’t tell (but it’s probably that last one). It got me heated, like I didn’t want to clap back in the middle of a meeting because then I might get in trouble, or maybe it would come off as ME being a dick.
This happened week after week. And it would only happen when our manager was in the room. I really couldn’t ignore it anymore because it was driving me crazy. I caught him in the hallway one time when no one else was around. Using a lot of eye contact while facing him, I told him that I don’t appreciate how he talks to me in meetings and that if I needed his help on anything I would ask. I told him I’ve been working here a while and understand how things work. He seemed surprised that he was doing that, apologized, and then toned it down after that.
A great example of man-to-man mansplaining is in Good Will Hunting when Will shows the Haaahvard mansplainer how “wicked smaaaht” he is before asking him if he likes apples:
Having things mansplained to you as a man is humiliating (again, I wouldn’t know how it feels as a woman, but I’m sure it’s also awful). It’s tough not to get angry when that happens because it’s frustrating and actually kind of emasculating. It’s a cheap way to knock you down a few pegs when you know you should be treated with respect. The silver lining is that it can be humbling and taught me to empathize.
If it’s happening to you, I think voicing your concerns to the person who’s doing it is important. Plus, if they have the slightest amount of decency, then they will respond positively. Pull them aside and try to be as matter-of-fact as possible when you tell them that you don’t need to be told how the printer works, or that when you send them something over email, they don’t need to reply and CC your boss to make sure it’s true. Just remain professional because nobody likes a catty, passive-aggressive dude..
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