It's the great philosophical question of our time: How to respond to a mansplainer? Answers may vary, but sports journalist Erin Reilly had what could be the best response to a mansplainer on Twitter. Let us all cheer on her example.
The thing about mansplaining is that I don't think most of the guys who do it mean it maliciously. Most guys probably aren't sitting around thinking, "This person is a woman, so obviously she doesn't know what she's talking about — I should definitely explain things to her!" But people, especially men, are much more likely to subconsciously assume that women aren't as knowledgeable in particular areas. And this means that men often times wind up explaining things to women, even in situations where you would probably realize that she already knows what you're saying.
And the more male-coded a subject area is, the more likely men are to just assume that the woman in question has no idea what she's talking about. It's the bane of any woman who enjoys sports — and especially sports journalists.
One of the most recent examples of this phenomenon comes from a discussion that Australian sports journalist Erin Reilly was having on Twitter about the gender pay gap in women's sports, and specifically the Australian Football League, which plays Aussie Rules Football (which is somewhat similar to rugby).
And it didn't take long before she started getting a lot of replies. And while many people engaged with Reilly about the issues, discussing why male and female players aren't paid the same and fostering an important conversation, many people (by her own estimates, mostly men) were dismissive of the whole notion that women should be paid the same amount of money to pay the same sport — and the idea that this conversation even needs to be had.
And then, in the midst of the discussion, Reilly had the best response to one man who tried to explain some basic info about the history of the AFL. As though that was something she was entirely unaware of.
Reilly was really not having it.
To which I say:
The Twitter user who prompted this epic reply, to his credit, explained that he hadn't meant to be patronizing, and complimented Reilly on the work she does.
But then this is sort of the problem, isn't it? Even men who don't mean to be wind up being, well, patronizing. And it's incredibly annoying — and when it happens over and over and over again, it's also somewhat destabilizing. Why do all these people think you're an idiot? Why is it so hard for anyone to think of you as knowledgeable?
It can mess with your head — which is why it's awesome to see a woman take such a straightforward, unapologetic approach to shutting down this sort of thing. Go Team Shutting Down Mansplainers, one tweet at a time.