Why "Mansplaining" Is Still a Problem gets off to a slow start. "Mansplaining"

...is not a universal flaw of the gender, just the intersection between overconfidence and cluelessness.

...the out-and-out confrontational confidence of the totally ignorant is, in my experience, gendered. Men explain things to me, and other women, whether or not they know what they're talking about. Some men.

Skip to Men Explain Things to Me: Facts Didn't Get in Their Way  on page 2 for a faster pace.

Every woman knows what I'm talking about. It's the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men's unsupported overconfidence.

Arrogance might have had something to do with the war, but this syndrome is a war that nearly every woman faces every day, a war within herself too, a belief in her superfluity, an invitation to silence, one from which a fairly nice career as a writer (with a lot of research and facts correctly deployed) has not entirely freed me. After all, there was a moment there when I was willing to let Mr. Important and his overweening confidence bowl over my more shaky certainty.

More extreme versions of our situation exist in, for example, those Middle Eastern countries where women's testimony has no legal standing; so that a woman can't testify that she was raped without a male witness to counter the male rapist. Which there rarely is.

Credibility is a basic survival tool.

At the heart of the struggle of feminism to give rape, date rape, marital rape, domestic violence, and workplace sexual harassment legal standing as crimes has been the necessity of making women credible and audible.

Being told that, categorically, he knows what he's talking about and she doesn't, however minor a part of any given conversation, perpetuates the ugliness of this world...

...billions of women must be out there on this six-billion-person planet being told that they are not reliable witnesses to their own lives, that the truth is not their property, now or ever. This goes way beyond Men Explaining Things, but it's part of the same archipelago of arrogance. Men explain things to me, still. And no man has ever apologized for explaining, wrongly, things that I know and they don't. [emphasis mine]

Tags: credibility of women, self-limitation

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Replies to This Discussion

I am very familiar  with this phenomenon.  I also get straightsplaining from time to time, when a straight man explains to me why I'm gay. 

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