Monday, February 14, 2011


I really wish the term "mansplaining" would go away.  I understand the problem it's meant to convey-- a man assuming he knows more about something than a woman and condescending to her about it-- but it's an awkward portmanteau and just strikes me as juvenile.  Like there's no way to effectively point out instances of this happening without coming up with a cute name for it.  It also makes it sound as if this is something all men do, or that women never do, or that there aren't other varieties of prejudice and/or privilege-based condescension.  And if there are, do they all need clever names too?  Richsplaining?  Whitesplaining?  "Gaysplaining" sounds marginally better aesthetically, but a person who uses it would probably be called homophobic even if using it correctly because gays are not a privileged group.

I like the words "prejudice" and "privilege," because they're generally applicable to errors in rationality (the former) and perspective (the latter), and don't suggest that mistakes about the abilities and values of different groups are all fundamentally different in kind.  Sexism already suffers from a good deal of confusion on that matter given that there are entirely legitimate statements that can be made about differences between sexes.  The illegitimate ones, however, can come from the same kinds of thought processes that produce any other kind of in-group favoritism and aren't inherently any better or worse.   There are a million different ways to think sloppily, but I think it's better that the commonality of these varieties of sloppiness be emphasized.

1 comment:

  1. I found your blog via .... maybe pharungula? Dunno. Subscribed.

    I used the "word" mansplain for the first time ever on friendlyatheist this last week. I don't always resort to what, as you said, is essentially juvenile. But sometimes, well, sometimes that's all that is left to us. Us being women (mostly) who are ignored for any "real" stuff we say.

    I would be always logical, practical, and PC, if anyone paid attention to that. Every now and then, I can't help but want a reaction. And weirdly...and your cartoon image is perfect, btw....the dumber my arguments, the more engaging I seem. I dunno. I love the internet I guess.


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