Why We Need to Stop Using the Word "Mansplaining"
Why have we created a derogatory, gender-based insult specifically for men?
I am a feminist and I hate the word “mansplaining.”
According to Google dictionary, mansplain is an informal verb used to describe a man explaining something to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing. So basically it means a man is explaining something to a woman and she perceives it as being condescending. CONDESCENDING. PATRONIZING. Gender-neutral words. Words that could describe an annoying way of speaking by any gender. Why are we not just using those words? Why have we created a derogatory, gender-based insult specifically for men?
How would we feel if men made up a word to describe women specifically in a bad way? Oh yeah, they have. An unpleasant woman gets called a witch. We’re referred to as bitches or broads. We get called sluts if we have sex. We get called airheads, bitchy, bossy, ditzy, frigid, hormonal, hysterical, sassy, shrill, frumpy. The list goes on and on. And we don’t like it, do we? We don’t like that there are offensive words specific to our gender. We don’t like a lot of things that society has done for us. So we fight. We fight for equality. We fight for acceptance and for opportunities and for the freedom to make our own choices. But for some absurd reason, we chose to come up with the term “mansplaining.” Haven’t we been taught that you can’t fight fire with fire?
How would we feel if we were explaining something to a man that we mistakenly assumed he knew nothing about, only to have him say “stop womansplaining?” You know how angry we get when a man asks if we are on our period because we’re upset about something? Yeah, I think we’d be just as angry if he were to use a word like “womansplaining.”
I follow a pretty popular feminist page on Instagram. I usually love everything they post. But today, they posted a picture that said, “I’m just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to stop fucking mansplaining everything.” One of the first comments was from a man who basically said he doesn’t like the term and women wouldn’t like if they were coined a similar term. I commented on his comment saying that I agree, and we should just call it what it really is which is “condescending.”
A minute later, a woman responded to my comment by telling me to “be quiet.”
Yes, in this day and age, in the midst of an incredible revolution for women where we are encouraged to speak out and speak up, a woman told another woman to be quiet.
She then told me that I don’t understand the English language and that I need to educate myself. So I responded with this exact comment:
“You’re being extremely patronizing. If you were a man, what you’re doing would be what you call ‘mansplaining.’ But because you’re a woman, I guess we’ll just call it condescending, patronizing, and rude which are the gender-neutral definitions for mansplaining.”
Five minutes later, I received a notification from Instagram that my post had been deleted because it didn’t follow community guidelines.
Having an opinion that isn’t harmful to anyone is apparently not allowed. I didn’t bash women, I didn’t stick up for men (God forbid). I just said that the term is a step in the wrong direction for us. Because I believe that we should be retaliating for an eternity of mistreatment by educating and protesting and fighting the fight, instead of making up new names to call an entire group of people. Because I believe that to fight sexism, we shouldn’t be sexist. Because I believe that all genders are capable of talking down to others regardless of whether or not the person they are talking to has a penis or a vagina.
There is a lot of work that needs to be done to fully accomplish equality. There are a million and one problems that need to be fixed. There are fights to be fought and wars to be won. But I think this can only be accomplished with love and acceptance and standing together and educating each other. Tearing each other down is not the answer.