Mansplaining 101 for Men: Why We Do It
A fear-based need to project competency is at the core of mansplaining. But you already knew that.
I realize that mansplaining is a partisan term that implies a particular bent in the binary gender wars. But terms like mansplaining, which gain widespread use across the entire culture, do so because they have truth in them.
So, yes, mansplaining is a harsh and unforgiving label for a particular mode of masculine communication in which men, in conversation with women, speak as if they are the acknowledged expert on a subject when they actually aren’t or at least aren’t the only one. There is a presumption of expertise. Especially is the subject is traditionally gendered; say, programming or engineering. Additionally, woman who may know more about said subject often can’t get a word in edgewise. This is a real thing. It happens.
I would hasten to add that when the mansplainer is not talking over women, he is busy condescending to other men. We don’t like him any better than women do, but given the historic imbalance of power for women, mansplaining is particularly galling for them.
Additionally, many men will become reactive if women interrupt or directly refuse mansplaining. For some men any form of rejection can inspire an angry or even violent response. And while that may not be many of us, when a man engages in this behavior with a woman he does not know, she has no way of knowing which kind of man he is. Accordingly women in this circumstance carry the additional burden of managing a man’s potential emotions even as they try to disentangle from a conversation they don’t want and did not invite.
So why do men mansplain? Because it’s how we’re conditioned in Man Box culture to engage in nearly all of our primary relationships beginning at a very early age.
Mansplaining is rooted in how men are trained to form relationships. For generations, America’s culture of masculinity has taught boys and men to suppress their emotional expression, to project certainty and confidence above all else. To this day, we coach our sons to present a facade of emotional toughness and our daughters to admire that facade in men…