Just in case you’re not familiar with the word mansplaining, it refers to the tendency of some men to inform women of what they already know. A good example is this, which happened to me a few months ago. I met a man at a Council of Faiths meeting and as soon as I told him I was a Quaker he proceeded to give me a run-down of Quaker history.
The starting point seems to be that we need to be kept informed and they are the man for the job. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that we might know this stuff already – that we might even be experts in our field – that, god forbid, we might actually be able to tell them something about it! No. They are like search engines picking up on a word and spewing out information on it. Except that I haven’t googled anything and I already have the information, thank you very much.
Of course as the definition above suggests, man– is not the only kind of –splaining. I may in the past have been guilty of whitesplaining, telling people of colour about their own culture or religion, though I hope not; there’s also ablesplaining, which I’m sure I don’t need to explain to you as you already get the idea.
Basically all types of splaining are about power relations. It’s about saying ‘I know more than you about this,’ even when it is blindingly obvious that the person concerned is living with whatever ‘this’ is and is therefore the definitive expert. It’s about positioning yourself above the other person, being the expert, the spokesperson.
So now I’ve explained this, you can stop bothering your pretty little heads about it…
2 thoughts on “Let Me Splain it to You”
So what should yiou do when someone puts you in a splaining situation? Yesterday when a woman at ukulele group asked me how I could invent chords without a chord diagram, and (sorry if you know this) I said briefly that it helps to know the notes on each string and how chords are put together and realised it could so easily turn into a lecture. She forced me into a splaining situation.
Well, she asked you a question. You answered it. That is not ‘splaining’. You were sensitive to the fact that it could have turned into a full-blown lecture and you didn’t do that. So no problem imo.