Mansplaining, a portmanteau of "man" and "explaining," captures the cultural phenomenon of men explaining things to women because they believe women need a little extra help understanding difficult concepts like birth control and sexual consent.
The phenomenon has found an entertaining life on a new feminist-approved Tumblr "A Taxonomy of Mansplainers," created by New York City-based writer Sarah Jaffe, who aims to provide a tongue-in-cheek catalog of the types of mansplainers.
Whether in academia or politics, on the floor of the stock exchange or in a five-star restaurant's kitchen, men have historically felt the need to intellectually patronize women. So mansplaining has actually been around as long as time, but it only entered the popular lexicon in recent years, with Rebecca Solnit's 2008 essay "Men Explain Things to Me."
Perhaps the most annoying fellow is the faux "male feminist"— you know, the guy who tries to out-Ryan-Gosling Ryan Gosling.
Image Credit: Feminist Ryan Gosling
As the Tumblr defines him, "His perspective on women's issues in general and feminism in particular are sounder because, as a man, he can be 'objective.'"
Then there's the Whinyarchy* Mansplainer, who constantly asks women "Why weren't you outraged when a MAN was a victim of not the same thing at all? This guy also thinks apples = oranges = bananas, because everything is ultimately about the banana."
According to the Tumblr, mansplainers can also be identified by various turns of phrase and colloquialisms, such as "I was just trying to help," "It's not that bad" and "I'm not sexist, but ..." They may believe their "progressiveness" is synonymous with feminism, and therefore they are instantaneously absolved from whatever sexist mumbo-jumbo comes out of their mouths. Take the aptly-named Mark Judge, for instance, who recently wrote a very helpful piece on Acculturated (man)explaining to women how they can prevent catcalling: being nicer to strange men.
"I happen to side with the feminists on this one," Judge generously allows, "Catcalling is vulgar and obnoxious, and should be shamed the way we shame smokers. Yet there’s another component to the verbal war between the sexes that has been ignored: the way women reject men. Younger women seem to have lost the ability to graciously turn down a man who politely and non-aggressively shows an interest in them."
Who would have known that all along, women were the key to stopping their own systemic abuse and harassment. Thanks so much, friend! Consider it done.
Critics of essentialism be damned: Mansplainers will always exist because men will always explain things to women. Of course, that doesn't mean that we need to listen.