That’s sexist! Shouldn’t it just be called ‘splainin’? Yes, it probably should just be called ‘splainin’. Yes, whites and mean girls use the same techniques. I’ll come back to that…
But “Mansplaining” is the most common form, as the six instances of mansplaining in the Mansplaining definition (at time of writing) on Urban Dictionary – which come before the first instance of a woman correctly explaining the term – prove better than I ever could.
Mansplain is …
gerund or present participle: mansplaining
1. (of a man) explain (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.
“I’m listening to a guy mansplain economics to his wife”
How to Mansplain: A Guide for Everybody
Remember when you were at school and you asked the teacher a question and some asshole turned around and gave you the answer? Mansplaining is that, without the question, multiplied by 1000… on crack.
Step 1. Know Your Goals
Your goal when Mansplaining is to humiliate someone who questions the status quo that benefits you, while still appearing to have good intentions. Your overall goal is always to show her – and your audience – that she’s ignorant or mistaken and often also that she is over reacting in a blaming way to you. It’s essential that you come off as reasonable, while she comes off as angry, shrill, aggressive and ultimately insane.
Ideally, by the end of your mansplain session, she should have lapsed into an apocalyptic rage and incriminated herself in the eyes of others. Winner!
Step 2. Remind her who she is, in case she’s forgotten her name or her place
When mansplaining, using the person’s name frequently – while gently reminding them that their time, money and opinions are not as important as yours – is extremely effective in pushing them past the point of no return.
For instance, if you were another blogger correcting me for this post, saying: “Jean, what you don’t seem to understand is that you’re oversensitive and overthinking it all. Consider, Jean, if you should just listen more to people who’re only trying to help you do better work. We took time out of our schedules to advise you!” is much more infuriating than “Shut up and listen, Bitch!” It’s very personalized, and also gives the impression to outsiders that the speaker is reasonable and cares about who I am.
Step 3. Pretend she’s senile and easily upset
We all know that the best way to make someone lose their shit is to tell them to “calm down” or “relax” when they’re not actually that angry… yet… but do have a legitimate reason to be. Remember this when speaking. Adopt a calming tone, like you’re the father of a small girl, or the nurse of a senile old lady condemned to a nursing home.
If you’re having trouble taking this approach, just remind yourself that the ten minutes you’re taking out of your busy schedule to explain this to her is probably worth a day of her pointless life.
Step 4. Remember: Her rank, age, experience skill set, etc don’t matter
The approach outlined in steps 1 through 3 will be even more effective in causing her to lose her temper if she is much more knowledgeable to you, senior to you in work or age, or all three. Remember, a combination of anger and frustration is much more likely to make a woman cry than physical pain is. They push out babies. They won fight club already.
The more she feels unjustly treated, the more likely it is that she’ll explode and start screaming at you. When this happens, you’ve won.
Step 5. Deploy your secret weapon – your hurt feelings
There’s a danger she’ll call you out on your mansplaining. Use this to your advantage, by acting hurt. Let everybody know you’re not all men, and that she’s made you her scapegoat just because you were nice to her. Other people who’ve been called on things (racism, sexism, whatever…) will then side with you. If you can cry a small man-tear, do. It will be welcomed like the only single dad in a play date.
On the off-chance she breaks down and cries instead of shouting at you, step in and comfort her with helpless and innocent glances at anybody watching. Her reputation will never recover from your generosity, especially considering how mean she was.
Is mansplaining just for men?
No, of course not! It’s 2017! These days, white people also use the same techniques when explaining, or (whitesplaining) to black people and other people of color that they have equal rights now and there’s no reason to keep complaining about racism.
Women can also use the same techniques against other women… and frequently do. There isn’t a word for it but it should probably be called “being a patronizing and insufferable bitch”.
CAUTION: Women should never – I repeat NEVER – attempt to “womansplain” to men because there’s a serious risk that if they DO drive a man to lose control and lapse into an apocalyptic rage, his response will elicit such sympathy that he will be elected President of the USA.