The Joys of Mansplaining

Thank you, dear men, for your endeavors to explain the world to me. Thank you, dear men, for explaining my research topics to me. Thank you, dear men, for approving of my decisions. I had no idea what I was doing for years before you came around and explained everything in one or two sentences! Where would I be without you?

I recently posted a (very brief) summary of one of my research papers on social media, referring to this paper, even giving directions to find it online. The entire post was four sentences long—two for the summary, two (separated from the first two through a paragraph) for the directions. Not even thirty minutes later, someone commented on my post, explaining that what I had mentioned for a specific region was true for the entire country—what I had also mentioned in the second part of the first sentence.

In case you are wondering why I am dwelling on the number of sentences and their contents: I am wondering why someone would write a comment almost as long as my entire post explaining something that I already said. I am wondering if this person doesn’t even bother to finish reading the first sentence before he starts explaining. I am wondering if this person immediately assumes that I don’t know what I am talking about. I am wondering why this person might assume this. And I can’t stop wondering: I am a woman. Would he have done that if I were a man?

And sure, we could say now: ah, that’s just social media! What do you expect? I agree. But: I have also experienced this in the ‘real world.’ I have experienced this in university courses, at conferences, in email correspondence. I and my (all female) colleagues have been congratulated for making a change a (male) colleague deemed ‘more realistic.’ One could argue: a junior scholar doesn’t know her way around. But my colleagues are far more experienced. Still: he had to voice his approval.

And I’m glad he did! How would we have known that we made the right decision? The world is so complicated and confusing for us women. We probably wouldn’t survive if there weren’t a few (some, many, …?) men who performed this fundamental task of explaining everything to us!

(Please don’t take my gratitude literally.)


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