How to handle mansplaining

Discussion in 'Free Thoughts' started by Magical Realist, Nov 7, 2016.

  1. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    Care to rephrase that?
     
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  3. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Ho ho.

    But, slightly more seriously, could this perhaps be rephrased as "Women are not so prone as men to silly and impractical notions?" I feel there could be something to that, as my experience is that most women do not seem to be as egocentric as men and are thus more likely to think things through before pontificating, in case they might be wrong.
     
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  5. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    I'm not responding to you.
     
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  7. surreptitious57 Registered Member

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    Rebecca Solnit is credited as being the author of the term mansplaining
    after her book Men Explain Things To Me released a couple of years ago
     
  8. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    You assume mansplaining is just answering a question. Often it isn't. Often it is injecting an overly personal opinion where none was solicited or trying to gain the upperhand in an argument thru tone and posturing.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2016
  9. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Definitely practical as a barb, deterrent, retribution in everyday discourse and casual rhetoric. But I tend to agree with critics[*] that it doesn't or shouldn't hold water in a formal discussion. (Though a more generic, neutral concept or objection might implement its function when warranted).

    Not that supposed agents of reason don't exploit every "rationally illegal" gimmick and fallacy in the books when it comes to actual public debates, presentations, lawyers arguing in courtrooms, etc. But once such tactics have been discerned and called-out in the "game", there's the potential for their effects to be negated (depending upon the caliber of referee, other party, audience, jury, committee, etc).

    - - - - - - - - -

    [*] Mansplaining - Controversy: The usefulness of the term is disputed. Given its gender-specific nature and negative connotation, Lesley Kinzel described it as inherently biased, essentialist, dismissive, and a double standard. Author Cathy Young called it "a pejorative term for supposedly obtuse and arrogant male arguments on gender, apparently now also applied to female dissent." As the word became more popular, some commentators complained that misappropriation and overuse had in some instances diluted its original meaning. Liz Cookman writing for The Guardian says that the term "reeks of gender essentialism — the idea that specific physical, social or cultural traits are native to a particular gender" and considers it degrading. Joshua Sealy-Harrington and Tom McLaughlin write in The Globe and Mail that the term has occasionally been used as an ad hominem to silence debate. They suggest that faulty arguments should instead be refuted.
     
  10. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    I've never seen it come up. I have no idea what families or workplaces you've been in, but I've never seen an actual 'mansplain' outside of TV. Then again, that all depends on individual experience - mine is probably unusual compared to that of society at large - and standards, doesn't it? There's no standard to use in the conjecture of 'mansplaining' outside a few narrow areas so far as I know because there's rarely a way to gauge a person's expertise without some kind of knowledge prior to the accusation. Of those areas: let's say that I wouldn't presume to inform a woman about pregnancy, generally, particularly if she's been pregnant before. But how even to judge that at first sight? What if I'm an attending at a hospital? What if she's a young mom in for a gyno visit? Generally, one will make assumptions, sure, based on some kind of impression or background knowledge, but people of either sex rarely have a full set of stickers addressing their complete range of knowledge. I can't ask a woman on sight to turn her head sideways and see what boxes she has checked off. If I run into her in a lab, I presume to a certain degree she's doing something 'labby' and invariably I ask what it is and then additional guiding questions, and then make suggestions or mention items of possible interest where warranted or where my background supplies some kind of information.

    Perhaps I'm not the best descriptor here, or an inappropriate object of the inference: I don't mansplain, or it doesn't enter into what I do, or I don't blather away (outside of lecture, where I'm paid to blather to several levels of background simultaneously). I usually preface discussions with some kind of guiding interrogation. I rarely assume. I might have done, but if so the feature enters into my existence so peripherally as to be completely inconsequential.

    I suspect the 'phenomenon' as such is a kind of passive mutual ignorance. I expect I've been 'splained' to by men and women over the years, but blew it off as unfamiliarity or even of being generally a feature of an unrefined personality without reference to sex - in my possibly limited experience.
     
  11. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    Well looka there: mansplainin', it were, lumb'rin o'er t' salty sea!: white a' belly like the depths of the milky way and eye rollin' as it made its thundrin' roar! Possessed by fallen angels I hurled me my harpoon and cried an uncouth tongue as it rolled and dived beneath the waves!

    Ok, I guess I have seen this 'mansplaining' of yours before then: I do remember the feeling. Not seeing the 'man' specificity though. Maybe presumption would be all the word needed, o' God's laureate?
     
  12. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    Yeah, sometimes, I guess.
     
  13. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Certainly LESS pejorative than "obtuse and arrogant male arguments on gender".
     
  14. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    Jesus, there was at least one paragraph there, Queegqueeg.

    ... wait. Making things up? Are you freaking womansplaining to me now? An argument within an argument My god. It's full of stars.

    Anyway: no. She did all that. What the hell's hard to believe about that?
     
  15. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    And it took you over 25 fays to reply.

    Remind me of what we're talking about.
     
  16. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Ok. I'll take your word for that. It's possible, in theory. You don't live in my region, for example, which would make your claim dubious in the extreme.

    But: I have never met anyone who reasonably might not have ever been in the presence of mansplaining, outside of a situation like this where I have no idea what people's lives are like. I have met quite a few people, all of them men, who claimed to never have even witnessed mansplaining, but not credibly - I have even seen the claim made in the process of a guy mansplaining mansplaining.

    Women who claim to have never even witnessed mansplaining are quite rare, apparently - I've never met one, and they don't turn up often even on these forums. Do you know any?
     
  17. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Comment piece by Denby Weller, which I think makes a good point. She is a feminist, in case you're wondering.

    http://www.smh.com.au/comment/ban-mansplain-from-the-feminist-vocabulary-20161226-gti76q.html

    I had a giggle like everyone the first time I heard it. Mansplain. The perfect epithet for the boardroom bullies, the down-talking politicians, the Twits and shock jocks who embody the 16 per cent gender pay-gap, the underrepresentation of women in just about everything important. The unfairness that we're still beating our heads against the glass ceiling so many decades after The Female Eunuch.

    Like thousands of women, I threw it around like the glorious little explosion of wit that it is. And most of my male friends laughed along, if a little uncomfortably.

    But then I started getting this sinking feeling, the kind you got when your nine-year-old self (the one with short hair and a Sarah Connor figurine) won an argument with your brother about who got to sit in the front seat of the car, but you did it by kicking him in the shins and yelling "shotgun!" while he howled in pain. Somehow, the rosy glow of that hallowed front seat was tarnished by the knowledge that you went real low to get there.

    When I called someone a mansplainer, I'd hit below the belt.

    Feminists, this is our hour. These are the dark days. The world needs us, and it needs us to be smart, effective and bold.

    What it doesn't need is for us to be allured by our cleverness into abandoning the rules of good argument. And this is why I'm calling for a moratorium on the word "mansplain" and its cousins, "manterrupt" and "bropropriate".

    It's not just because we're tarring half the population with the same brush when we slap the word "man" in front of any verb and say it with a derisive tone. Nor is it because we risk offence. It's because this adversarial form of communication ain't working, and we need to try a different tactic. And I don't mean to sound hysterical, but the future of the world kinda depends on it.

    ....

    We're not winning enough friends or influencing enough people. It's not because our arguments don't hold water, or our position is doomed to fail, it's because people can't get past the note of intellectually superior nastiness that's oozing from our pores when we utter words like "mansplain".

    If feminism is, as the T-shirt says, the "radical notion that women are people", then maybe it's time we adopted the radical notion that people are people too. Even man people. Who knows, if we use our linguistic power to sever the bullies and braggarts from the general male population, we might find the rest of mankind more receptive to our plight. Or maybe not.

    ....

    By all means, challenge the men who talk down to you. Go get 'em, sister. But make your primary weapon logic, not scorn. Put that superior intellect to work on the vocab that precisely describes what's wrong with their behaviour, not the generalist sexism of a gendered slur. In case you forgot, gendered slurs are the kinds of things we feminists are supposed to hate.

    Do your challenging without humiliating the other blokes in the room, who might even agree with you, if you could only couch your complaint in terms that don't demean them, too.

    The thing about feminism is, it ain't over yet. We don't get to walk the low road just because we're not making progress as fast as we'd like. If you want people to change, you have to speak a language they can bear to listen to before you have any hope at all of them hearing a single word you say.

    Let's banish mansplaining and start talking about the real battle for feminists.
    (emphasis is mine)
     
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  18. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Why must mansplaining be evaluated in terms of strategically winning some battle? It's just a good word for something that goes on, and for too long without having been recognized. It's called consciousness-raising. I used to mansplain and still catch myself doing it. I appreciate being called out on this. Just as I am for my racism, my ageism, my fatism, or any other unconscious bigotry I might express. How can one hope to treat all people fairly without being able to name the culturally-ingrained bad habits that make that impossible?
     
  19. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Uh, the track record of going weasel and PC with the vocabulary and expecting to gain credit and influence among those of good faith isn't that great either. (Election 2016 being example A).

    Especially when it involves adopting your propaganda enemy's frame in hostile circumstances - the men of good faith (the only ones you can hope to reach) aren't hearing "intellectually superior nastiness" unless it's there. Don't be nasty, and you won't have to worry about being intellectually superior - it's ok, really, to be intellectually superior sometimes. Try it, you might like it. And besides: You can't find a euphemism they won't take badly.

    It's a perfectly good term, for a perfectly well defined and familiar and well-described situation. Use it - in good humor, accurately, to the point, when the time is right. Why not?

    You're an American - fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.
     
  20. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    It's an extention of that whole 40's-50's view of women as weak and hysterical victims of their own emotions. There are so many old movies I can't even watch depicting the confused woman being set straight by the confident and calm male figure. The message was clear back then: Men are decisive and can figure things out. Women are wishy washy and irrational, controlled by their subjective feelings. Mansplaining is simply the online version of this whole sexist legacy exposed for all to see. If it needs the additional barb of a gender-based witticism to make its point, all the better.

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    Last edited: Jan 3, 2017
  21. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    For f*** sake, just jump into traffic and end your self-loathing. I'm sorry but you are allowed an opinion based on your bias. People are different--gender, race, age, weight, etc. Get over it. You need not apologize for it.
     
  22. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    I'm becoming more self-aware of my culturally-instilled biases. What about you? Are you only here to defend them? Why would you do that? Do you justify treating people badly just because they are different---ie. women, disabled, obese, old, trans, gay etc? This isn't about self-loathing. It's about simply correcting your behavioral habits to be respectful of individuals whoever they might be. It's just common sense and common decency.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
  23. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Actually, just out of curiosity: Who is she?

    Just running some basic searches makes the name Denby Weller look like a pseudonym. To wit, how old is she? I ask because I wonder at her historical perspective. What is her CV? Apparently some movies. None of this is disqualifying; that's neither my point nor provenance. But it's kind of weird how absent her name is from any real context; if I enter the phrase denby weller feminist in Google, your post comes up on the first page.

    In truth, my first instinct is to wonder at feminism that postures itself as hers does; normalizing misogyny as a means of making misogynists less uncomfortable in the presence of women simply doesn't work. I would love to know more about how she structures this outlook, but there really doesn't seem to be any more to it.

    We're not winning enough friends or influencing enough people. It's not because our arguments don't hold water, or our position is doomed to fail, it's because people can't get past the note of intellectually superior nastiness that's oozing from our pores when we utter words like "mansplain".

    (Weller↱)

    Let us just cut straight to the challenge, then: I would suggest that any term specifically noting sexist and presumptuous interruption and condescending explanation to a woman in any context separate from, oh, you know, say, just casually and accidentally interrupting someone without realizing it―honest!― can be similarly denounced. If "people can't get past the note if intellectually superior nastiness [they presume] oozing from [women's] pores when [women] utter words like 'mansplain'", then I would suggest the problem is still with the people who can't get past their own presumptions.

    And that's the thing. This is the part that nobody ever explains.

    How, exactly, is anyone supposed to discuss contemptuous behavior if it makes women ooze with nastiness should society acknowledge the behavior is contemptuous?

    Without some further functional explanation―

    By all means, challenge the men who talk down to you. Go get 'em, sister. But make your primary weapon logic, not scorn. Put that superior intellect to work on the vocab that precisely describes what's wrong with their behaviour, not the generalist sexism of a gendered slur. In case you forgot, gendered slurs are the kinds of things we feminists are supposed to hate.

    Do your challenging without humiliating the other blokes in the room, who might even agree with you, if you could only couch your complaint in terms that don't demean them, too.

    The thing about feminism is, it ain't over yet. We don't get to walk the low road just because we're not making progress as fast as we'd like. If you want people to change, you have to speak a language they can bear to listen to before you have any hope at all of them hearing a single word you say.

    ―the platitudes appear to add up to accommodating misogynistic behavior.

    Note the point: "If you could only couch your complaint in terms that don't demean ...."

    And any time someone says the fact of complaint is demeaning in and of itself, there is yet another scold to remind women, "If you could only couch your complaint in terms that don't demean".

    That is to say: If only women would stop complaining.

    And what that explanation lacks is any notion of what comes next: So ... women stop complaining, and sexism magically goes away? I just don't buy it. But if that's not what these half-arguments are selling, what are they actually pitching?

    If this is the new wave of feminism, such is reality; the literary corpus, though, seems a very rough sketch at this point. Is this one of the post-pomo variations on fixed notions of heroic masculinity and vulnerable femininity? Or is this a subtle difference not easily witnessed from across the Pacific? After all, I'm responding in a context―i.e., American liberal―including the market viable assertion that the mere fact of complaint is often denounced as inherently demeaning. That is to say, that some people advocate disparate impact outcomes we might otherwise describe with some unpleasant term ending with -ist doesn't mean it's fair to use those words, or even propose disparate impact. To some degree, the counterpoint is that things are the way they are because that's just the way it goes, and within that framework it is rude to even suggest there is something awry. Perhaps it's a particularly American thing, but it really does seem as if Denby Weller is buying into the argument that in order for women to achieve equality they ought to shut the hell up about inequality.

    If the other is determined to see "logic" as snobbery and elitism and scorn, what then? Why do arguments like Denby Weller's never get around to this seemingly obvious reality? (That's the thing; the American version doesn't, either.)

    "By all means,", Weller argues, "challenge the men who talk down to you. Go get 'em, sister." If I suggest we also need to scrub the bit about men who feel threatened by women who stand up to them, because, well, that can also be construed as demeaning ....

    I mean, all I'm getting at is there seems to be something of a spiral down the rabbit hole, and much like the dictatorship of the proletariat, I've never met an advocate who can dig back out. And much like those revolutionaries, neither do these advocates necessarily care to dig out; they often think they're doing just fine as it is. Which brings us back 'round the swirly: By all means, we might suggest, address the problem of being talked down to. But couch your address in a manner that doesn't demean. Because, you know, everybody knows the phrase "talk down to" has negative connotation. It seems worth wondering how long and bland except for being ridiculed as incomprehensible and therefore useless a perfectly accurate phrasing must be in order to escape the vortex of meaninglessness.

    But isn't this always the problem? How to address problematic circumstances when addressing such circumstances inherently offends? Over and over, it keeps coming up in history. As a setup, sure, Weller is hardly new; neither, though, is her lack of a punch line what we might call innovative. It's one thing to take the advice, but in the end what does that even mean?
    ____________________

    Notes:

    Weller, Denby. "Ban 'mansplain' from the feminist vocabulary". The Sydney Morning Herald. 31 December 2016. SMH.com.au. 4 January 2016. http://bit.ly/2iBqVDb
     
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