What is mansplaining?

According to Merriam-Webster.com, mansplaining is “(of a man) to comment on or explain something to a woman in a condescending, overconfident, and often inaccurate or oversimplified manner.”

Although some might not know what mansplaining means, one can bet that every woman has experienced the phenomenon at some point or another. The term has been used to describe the likes of Matt Damon, Jimmy Iovine, Mitt Romney and more. Many women have used the term when describing situations in which men have said something condescending towards them, not necessarily trying to explain anything to them.

The results of an Instagram poll seen by over 300 people showed that 39 out of 40 women have been “mansplained” to and that 12 out of 15 men have either heard or participated in mansplaining. (Please note that the definition of mansplaining was not provided before the poll was taken).

These results prove that most women have been talked down to before by a man. More women were willing to participate in the poll than men were, which provides some curiosity as to why only 15 men answered their respective question, while there were 40 women who answered theirs. The demographic who viewed the poll was evenly divided by gender.

Some reasons for why men did not participate in the poll could be because:

  • They are aware of their own or someone else’s involvement in mansplaining, and did not vote out of guilt or stubbornness.
  • They are not aware of what mansplaining means.
  • They are not aware of any unintentional gender biases they harbor.
  • They don’t like participating in Instagram polls.

When looking at some of the possible reasons behind men’s lack of participation, it can seem like I’m pitting one gender against the other, but that’s not the case. Mansplaining, although it can seem extremely negative, does not mean that the man who does it is a bad person. More often than not, men aren’t even aware of how their words are perceived or aren’t aware of any biases they may have against women.

One example of this is when a man told a woman, “I think you spelled your name wrong.” As silly as that statement is, what harbors underneath it isn’t as silly. The fact that the man thought the woman was daft enough to spell her name wrong (which she didn’t) is insulting, as harmless as the statement may have seemed to the man. Why did the man think she spelled her own name wrong? Is it a rare name that can easily be misspelled? Or does the man think the woman isn’t smart enough to even spell her own name? This is just one small, but telling example of what mansplaining is and how much of a gray area it can be.

This post was made with positive intent. The intent being to explain what mansplaining is and show how common it can be. Everyone should be more mindful of their words and look within themselves to discover any unintentional biases they may have.


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