On Tuesday, Tracy Clayton, a BuzzFeed writer and co-host of the podcast "Another Round," asked her Twitter followers, “[W]omen, what's the most infuriating thing you've had mansplained to you?” A bevy of women shared their mansplaining experiences on Twitter, and their stories will sound hilariously, horribly familiar to any woman who’s had something mansplained to her before. (So, you know, that’s basically all of us.)
To be clear, mansplaining is not simply an instance of a man explaining something to a woman. There are countless, totally legit reasons that a guy might need to explain something to a woman. These include but are not limited to: when he is her instructor; when they are both trapped in a giant maze, and only he knows how to get out; when he is her doctor, and he needs to tell her about the surgery he’s going to perform; when there is a bear behind her, and it would be helpful for her to know about it; when she asks him to explain something.
Mansplaining is something different: It’s condescending, and often involves interrupting or speaking over someone else. It’s characterized by the speaker’s misplaced assumption that he (usually it’s a he) knows more about a subject than a woman does, but without any real basis for that assumption — he’s not an expert in that field, and he’s never had that experience. In many cases, he’ll make that assumption in spite of the fact that the person he’s speaking to is an expert in the subject or has firsthand experience. Obviously, people of any gender can be overbearing and rude, but, in these cases, the behavior is often rooted in a gendered belief that men’s voices are somehow more legitimate than women’s.
Clayton’s call for readers to share their experiences with mansplaining seems to have arisen from her own negative experience being driven to an airport:
MY FUCKING LYFT DRIVER KEEPS EXPLAINING TO ME WHAT A GOTDAMN AIRPORT TERMINAL IS AND I AM GOING TO FLIP— Tracy Clayton (@brokeymcpoverty) March 21, 2017
I KNOW WHAT A TERMINAL IS AND I KNOW WHAT AN AIRPORT IS AND I KNOW WHAT AN AIRPLANE DOES AND IM OLDER THAN YOU ARE— Tracy Clayton (@brokeymcpoverty) March 21, 2017
Clayton asked Twitter users to describe similar experiences, and, boy, did they ever. Just FYI, you'll probably have steam rolling out of your ears by the end of this. The mansplaining stories fell into a few distinct categories:
1. Women's Health
@brokeymcpoverty periods. By a medical student who insisted women lost 'half a teaspoonful' of blood per period, and no more.— Pippa Wright (@TroisVerres) March 21, 2017
@brokeymcpoverty a pharmacist (man) told me I was choosing the wrong kind of painkiller for cramps.— ryan (@ryanmchristen) March 21, 2017
So I asked him what he takes for his.
@brokeymcpoverty Menstruation. (Didn't believe I had my period because "it's not the 28th.")— shannonk (@shannonk) March 21, 2017
2. Professional Expertise
@brokeymcpoverty I get the entertainment industry explained to me all. the. time. by dudes.— Alisha Grauso (@AlishaGrauso) March 21, 2017
...I am an entertainment writer in L.A.
@brokeymcpoverty A US man w/ no connection to Brazil tried to explain Brazil's economy to me after I'd covered it for years from Sao Paulo— Luciana Lopez (@Luciana_F_Lopez) March 22, 2017
3. What Goes On In Those Lady Brains Of Ours
4. What An Orgasm Feels Like... For A Woman
@brokeymcpoverty dude in workshop tried to tell me my description of orgasm was "gratuitous" because women's orgasms don't work like that 🙃— Rachel Charlene (@RachelCharleneL) March 21, 2017
5. Your Job
My subordinate (an intern with zero experience) explaining my own job to me. I was the most experienced and 2nd highest-ranking staff. https://t.co/rmCqmpLaDv— Niccole (@niccoleinDC) March 21, 2017
6. How To Pronounce Your Own Name
@brokeymcpoverty I once had a friend mansplain to my roommate how to ~correctly~ pronounce her own name bc he thought she was doing it wrong— Aja Romano (@ajaromano) March 21, 2017
.@brokeymcpoverty A man once explained street harassment to me: "Apparently, it's a thing now." Oh so it's a thing, thank you.— Emily Lindin (@EmilyLindin) March 22, 2017
8. How Women Feel
This would be hilarious if it weren't so painfully true.