Thursday, January 28th, 2010

"Mansplaining" Critique Really Upsets Men, Who Are Usually Too Busy Feigning Concern For the Subjects of Women's Memoirs

BOYS BOYS BOYS YEAHIn the wake of our re-realization yesterday that the executive class of Apple is an all-male revue, there are (at least) two interesting woman-related discussions going on up in the Internet. One involves manplaining. The other has to do with how men treat women when they write about things. And they are sooo related. Let us begin with Awl pal and comedian Julie Klausner, who is meeting lots of concern from men about how the people in her book will be represented. Um, Julie asks: what about me?

Her excellent bit of writing this morning explains this odd focus of concern:

All I will say is that I've done a few interviews this week about "Le Book," and if one more guy asks me how I think the people in my book will react to my writing about them, and was it revenge and did I use their real names and aren't I worried, I might crack like Mink Stole in Desperate Living. Because, first of all, who am I, Babs Walters writing Audition? I am nobody who slept with anybody. There are no boldface names, just pseudonyms and other details I added to protect the characters in my stories after consulting with Penguin Legal and my own lawyer who is Jewish, by the way, in case you need his contact info. Important: It's MY real name that's going on this thing-I'm the one putting myself out there, in whatever cross hairs, looking the most like an idiot, if anything, or at least the most vulnerable and honest and ideally ridiculous because HEY EVERYBODY I AM DANCING AROUND AND TELLING JOKES A LOT IN BETWEEN THE STUFF THAT IS SAD. Meanwhile! Nobody protected me when I was in the thick of these situations; and look at John Edwards, or don't, look at David Letterman, whom I have always IDOLIZED as a comedian, and who had to be told over the weekend between his glib announcement about doing "creepy things" and his apology to his wife and staff that he actually may have hurt some people and needed to apologize?

And Emily Gould, who has her own book of essays coming out this spring, cosigned this very concisely:

Many dudes – and some ladies who have internalized dude values – hate it when women write honestly about sex. They get angry. They express their anger by feigning concern for the men these women have supposedly hurt, as if books are supposed to be produced under ethical conditions, like Murray's chicken.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the Internet? A woman wrote about mansplaining. This, as you know if you are a woman, is when a man explains reality to you in a way that is intended to overrule what you very clearly know is actual reality, or to tell you things you have already said, or to tell you that what you are doing right is wrong.

You may not be surprised to hear that this did not go so well with men! When Suzanne Franks tried this idea out at her science blog, she got lots of amazing responses ("May I send this definition to my colleague Roger, who stood over me while I changed my tire, telling me exactly how I was doing it wrong even though I did it perfectly in less than five minutes?"), but then…. some MANSPLAINING HAPPENED.

Kate Harding rounded up her commenter mansplainers, who flipped out a bit. (THESE MEN WERE HAVING THEIR FEELINGS DISMISSED!)

But the comments on her own site are pretty great, including the story of the boyfriend who explains why a woman should not be knocked out by an especially bad period. And, this one:

Mercifully I know only one habitual mansplainer. He is a gay mansplainer who has never, even in the interest of medical science/curiosity/drunkenness, Done It With A Lady. Yet this did not prevent him from mansplaining to me, (A Lady), that "women don't actually like sex they just pretend to in order to keep men happy". He also once assured me that I could not possibly reach my own g-spot on the basis that another Lady told him she couldn't reach hers. (At which point I may have Lost It and shrieked, "Hel-lo? Who's got the minge in this room, chummy? Oooh, I rather think it's me!" (in a decidedly unLadylike fashion, though, to be fair, I was drunk).

Obviously, each of these hundreds of ladies are totally wrong but I don't have time to set them right just now, because I'm so very busy.

84 Comments / Post A Comment

KarenUhOh (#19)


jolie (#16)

Last year – ON VALENTINE'S DAY NO LESS BECAUSE UGH NOT BAD ENOUGH??? – a man held forth to me and my girlfriends on the subject of vaginal dryness. I was drunk and am a little hazy on the details, but I think I stubbed my cigarette out on his hand in response.

metoometoo (#230)

That is the correct response.

mathnet (#27)

I don't understand what there is to say about that. But yes! Correct.

iplaudius (#1,066)

Not to mansplain, but it's even worse than that. MEN REGULARLY MANSPLAIN TO OTHER MEN. Really. It's an epidemic.

I call my epidemic "Dad."

I call mine "David and Alex."

TO CLARIFY: I MEANT DAVID CHO. Not any other Davids I might know.

iplaudius (#1,066)

So, you're dating a David, evidently.

Emily (#20)


Ha! I actually have a million Davids in my life. CHO IS THE ONLY PROBLEM ONE. (Which is an improvement over the year of Nicks, when everyone was named Nick.)

davidwatts (#72)

"these are the daves i know, i know, these are the dave i know./ Some of them are Davids, but most of them are Daves/They all have/Their own hands/But they come from different moms."

Did I ever tell you that Mrs. McCave
Had twenty-three sons, and she named them all Dave?…

This makes things quite difficult at the McCaves'
As you can imagine, with so many Daves.
And often she wishes that, when they were born,
She had named one of them Bodkin Van Horn.
And one of them Hoos-Foos. And one of them Snimm.
And one of them Hot-Shot. And one Sunny Jim.
Another one Putt-Putt. Another one Moon Face.
Another one Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face.
And one of them Ziggy. And one Soggy Muff.
One Buffalo Bill. And one Biffalo Buff.
And one of them Sneepy. And one Weepy Weed.
And one Paris Garters. And one Harris Tweed.
And one of them Sir Michael Carmichael Zutt
And one of them Oliver Boliver Butt
And one of them Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate …
But she didn't do it. And now it's too late.
But she didn't do it. And now it's too late.

bennimaddi (#314)

yes, it should be called dadsplaining.

Bittersweet (#765)

Yes! My dad is Mansplaining Champeen of the world. He once held forth on how lightbulbs work…to a friend of mine who worked 20 years at GE.

bookofsand (#9,632)


This is also known as "the internet".

belltolls (#184)

"I Don't Care About Your Band" is one of the best book titles I have ever read.

Sackin (#2,393)


lululemming (#409)


shelven (#1,992)

I assume I'm not the only one who linked to Rebecca Solnit's "Men Explain Things To Me (Facts Didn't Get in The Way)" on this topic?

Emily (#20)

Yes, exactly!!

La Cieca (#1,110)

Not to get all mansplainy here, but may I just tell the ladies that your approach to this problem is all wrong. Guys are basically like your grandfather (in fact, there probably are one or two guys you know who actually are your grandfather) and so the way to shut up a guy is just to say, "Oh, you know I never thought of that, thanks so much, now I really understand it much better."

Optionally, if you are up to doing the faded Southern belle voice, you can add, "Oh, thank you, kind sir, you have rescued me from the horns of a dilemma. I swear to you I will dance at your weddin'."

jolie (#16)

You know? That is often exactly what we do, thank you. But it gets tiring. And we get drunk. And there are cigarettes in need of extinguishing…

La Cieca (#1,110)

Basically, it's like dealing with the problem of flies in your apartment. You can put up screens, or you can try to talk sense into the flies. It's easier to put up screens. Though I should warn you, while you're putting up the screens, some guy is going to walk up and tell you you're doing it all wrong.

jolie (#16)

Oh you could kill the flies by extinguishing your cigarette on them.

The Jolie Guide To Problems: "1. Is it a problem? If yes, then 2.Extinguish a cigarette on it. Is it still a problem? If no, then 3.Time for another cigarette. If yes, then 3, also."

kneetoe (#1,881)

Oh, a smokes screen.

mandor (#1,014)

Is this some sort of meta-manslaining joke?

jetztinberlin (#392)

The problem is when they are doing it mostly to hear themselves talk. Then whether or not you understand is of supreme irrelevance.

belltolls (#184)

After sex (and like most cats) I really don't like anyone touching my belly without permission.

cherrispryte (#444)

But then they think their advice is useful AND THEY KEEP TALKING. I realize I'm more of a misandrist than most people, but I'm DONE indulging condescending self-centered pieces of shit.

jolie (#16)

Hey there, why don't you come sit by me. Would you like a smoke?

metoometoo (#230)

This is what I do: groan loudly, say, "Seriously, shut up. You suck at life and I hate you," and then quickly leave the room.

katiebakes (#32)

A game for this snowy day: read this article and then ponder how it would read differently if it were about a laaaaady.

I think I just did somewhere but it was about Elizabeth Gilbert?

Legs Battaglia (#2,484)

maybe, but this article didn't have any references to anybody's dusty, musty, decrepit womb.

Well, you've definitely won my daily game of "Find the Most Jaw-Droppingly Insane Article in Today's New York Times."

jolie (#16)

Oh, have you not gotten to Critical Shopper yet?

After too many instant-wins by people "blind calling" the Critical Shopper article of the day, it has been disqualified from the game. It's too powerful for civilian use.

Also, I can't hate on Critical Shopper because it's intentionally seriocomic and self-loathing (hello, fashion world!).

jaimealyse (#647)

"I was surprised that a 32D didn't look at all freakish or disproportional, like a Japanese robot or Pam Anderson during her Kid Rock phase."


HelloTitty (#830)

Jesus Christ. My vagina just went home for a drink.

rj77 (#210)


City_Dater (#2,500)

It would mention her pets a lot. And imply that she had pets because she couldn't have children, because she was a pet-hair-covered, middle-aged, unlovable frump.

And yet anyone with an atom of sense would rather hang with a frumpy cat lady than with Mr. Underwear On A Hanger/This Is How I Arrange The Refrigerator/Maybe I Have Intimacy Issues But Someone Should Still Put Up With My Shit.

JulieKlausner (#1,143)

I know this game: "Make your eyes eyes cry blood"! No thanx.

iplaudius (#1,066)

Also, Emily Gould is soooooo right. In that vein, it is good that things like dick size and male physical beauty have become commonplaces of popular discourse. Men don't want to know that women care about things that. Dick size is one thing a guy can't change. And men obsess over it. (There will always be penile enlargement spam.) And then there are things like abs and pecs, which, like a lot of features men admire on women, turn out to be largely genetic.

It bugs men to know that women can measure (heh) and value a man in the same flattening, unfair way men have done to women forever. (You know the catalog: breasts, ass, legs, etc.)

In this process, we may be further commodifying sex. But it might be worth it, maybe, if men and women get fed up with it together, and, by changing the way we think, change our sex and social lives.

HiredGoons (#603)

We're ALL gay now.

lia (#1,344)


Moff (#28)

So what is it called when a woman explains reality to you in a way that is intended to overrule what you very clearly know is actual reality, or to tell you things you have already said, or to tell you that what you are doing right is wrong?


jetztinberlin (#392)

Wait a minute, I was sure my boyfriend wasn't commenting here.

lbf (#2,343)

I wish I didn't agree.

sigerson (#179)

couldn't agree more

Moff (#28)

And the worst part is that a lot of times she is right.

Tulletilsynet (#333)


City_Dater (#2,500)

Thank heavens there's a word for this now. It's so much faster to say or type "mansplaining" than "incessant, inaccurate, condescending bloviating."

MatthewGallaway (#1,239)

I totally agree with the general consensus here that a disturbingly large percentage of str8 men (and that one idiotic gay referenced above) are know-it-all jerks, but I would like to add that in law school, I had a quite a few ladies 'mansplain' things to me. This is what 'equality' means in the new era: everyone gets to act like an ass (aka 'corporate hierarchy 101').

hman (#53)

Oh man, just try doing a word problem with them.

When a man tells a woman why she can't be in a nightclub show even though she is married to the bandleader, this is known simply as "splaining."

The term also applies to what the woman must do after attempting to sneak into said show wearing some type of disguise.

That was quality right there. Nicely done.

Rod T (#33)


ArtfulSlinger (#2,901)

This and the Jessica Simpson "farting during business mtgs" expose might have given us just enough reason to shut down the interwebs, cause it cant get better than this.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

WOMEN! Amirite, guys?

Zack (#2,609)

Yeah, I'm just a condescending dick to everyone, regardless of gender!

Rod T (#33)

I recently started dating someone that has lots of lady friends. I find this TERRIFYING.

La Cieca (#1,110)

Lots of lady friend is not terrifying.
Lots of lady parts? TERRIFYING.

k-rex (#2,909)

I would like to thank the ladies for explaining to us manmen how things really are. And for putting the "man" prefix on "explaining" because that was totally manecessary.

JulieKlausner (#1,143)

So many questions…not enough MANswers.

libmas (#231)

"Whatever happened to Gary Cooper? The strong, silent type?"

See also: Proverbs 30:32 If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth.

sigerson (#179)

Oh, and WHAT? Emily's book is coming out this spring?! Pre-order information please.

sweetpickles (#812)

What is the term for when your girlfriend tries to tell you everything you're constantly doing wrong? Momsplaining? I feel like this is a disease that effects both sexes. I think we should call it "Clavinism," after Cliff Clavin from Cheers – One who speaks often in an undermining tone of what they do not know.

cherrispryte (#444)

I believe Dan Savage's term for this situation is DTMFA.

atipofthehat (#797)


davidwatts (#72)

Isn't this just called "being a know-it-all?" My girlfriend was completely indulged in everything by her parents and is basically shocked every time I don't want to do things exactly like she does. Which prompts her to "mansplain" to me how "manwrong" I am about everything I "manthink" about how to "mando" things.

HiredGoons (#603)

It's just statin' the facts, bitches.

cherrispryte (#444)

How bout I state some facts IN YOUR FACE.

FatGirl (#3,153)

I find this term no less offensive than blacsplaining or jewsplaining.

joeclark (#651)

Are they mansplainers (note you missed the S in the term's first usage) or are they perfectionists? I only former [v.] because I am the latter [n.].

bong hitler (#3,233)

"(I)f one more guy asks me how I think the people in my book will react to my writing about them, and was it revenge and did I use their real names and aren't I worried, I might crack like Mink Stole in Desperate Living. "

A hysterical woman. Imagine that.

betsy (#274)

Does Julie Klausner know it's not mandatory to write books about your personal life and put your name on them?

But men are the worst, I agree with that part.

lawyergay (#220)

I just started manstruating.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

I would have guessed you were closer to manopause, like me.

lawyergay (#220)

I think I'm probably peri-manopause? I mean, I still go through manses and get my beeriod every month, but I'm definitely not as hell bent on 'mocreating as I used to be.

Snarky's Machine (#5,815)

"mansplaining" is a misnomer. Men aren't the only group who think they know more than others possessing lived experiences.

Matt (#26)


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