Almost every woman has encountered a situation where a man does not pay attention to her intelligence and education, and condescendingly tries to explain her elementary things. Nowadays there is a separate term for this – mansplaining (from English man – man and explain – to explain).
Instances of Mansplaining
Men have been doing mansplaining for many years, but it was only a couple of years ago that this way of communication got its name. It is common for a man to explain something to a woman in a mocking tone, even when she obviously knows much more about the subject than he does.
And it happens very often. So often, in fact, that women have collected the most egregious cases on Twitter. For example:
“He and I were assembling furniture and he kept trying to explain to me how to use a screwdriver when I was almost done using it.”
“A colleague told me how to pronounce my own last name correctly.”
“A visitor explained to me how to search the library catalog for books by their author. I’m a librarian.”
And the most absurd case:
“He told me and almost showed me how to breastfeed my baby properly. Which I did at that moment.”
Such situations are not only annoying, they make women angry. Who would like to be treated like an unexperienced child? It would seem that men are also people, and to understand that it is not healthy to do so, should not be difficult. But statistics tell a different story – so let’s try to understand the actual reasons for this behavior.
The Psychology of Mansplaining
Compared to men, women are statistically interrupted more often – even by women themselves. And they, having got used to this situation, most likely will not ask the interlocutor not to interrupt, but will smile, nod, and continue their thought later. But the topic of interruptions is important in a sociological context. In an interaction between two people, the stronger person is more likely to interrupt the other. Mansplaining is problematic because it reinforces gender inequality, and supports the stereotype of women’s inability to stand up for themselves as well as their stupidity.
There is a very interesting linguistic point of view about the topic of mensplaining – men and women are thought to maintain different styles of speech. A man in his speech tries to achieve something, to prove something – a woman in her speech is much more relaxed, because for her it is more important to get information and make connections.
For the same reason, in their speech men try to prove their superiority, to establish hierarchy. And when a conversation involves a man and a woman, there is an imbalance – the man explains some understandable things for the sake of hierarchy, and the woman, by nature, nods and does not object, for the sake of establishing communication. And such a gesture the man already understands as agreement with his “power”, and continues to mensplaining. Of course, this is not always the case in normal conversation, but at least it is now clear why this is the case.
What is also interesting is that mansplaining is more likely to occur in a discussion involving more than two people, when there are more men in the conversation. Also, one study found that men’s speech is more direct than women’s, but men also have a tendency to turn sentences into questioning sentences – for example, adding “don’t they?” at the end.
Should we fight it
The statistics aren’t just a coincidence. Some sociologists suggest that another reason may be men’s habit of overestimating and women’s habit of underestimating their abilities. In an experiment, it was found that men, for example, accepted a job with only 60% of its requirements, while women tried to fit in completely.
Undoubtedly, mansplaining is a huge problem. In today’s society, whether in the workplace or informally, men should not interrupt women – especially if the woman knows much more about the topic of conversation. A difference of opinion should exist. Unfortunately, if, statistically, only 25% of the conversation is taken up by a woman, important facts for that discussion may even be lost.
Of course, you shouldn’t always shut men up either, explaining it as mansplaining. But the reality is that men are better off accepting the current state of affairs. Instead of getting angry when a woman asks her not to interrupt her, it is worth remembering the 75% in statistics, and realizing that we need to start getting rid of this bad habit.