The word 'mansplaining' has exploded onto the scene in recent years to put a finer point on an age-old phenomenon: a guy condescendingly (unintentionally or not) explaining something to a woman that doesn't need explaining. It comes in two basic varieties: 1) explaining something she already knows, or 2) explaining why she should do something differently, not because it's wrong but because he or men in general would prefer it otherwise. We asked our readers for their best examples of mansplanations they've experienced or witnessed out in the real world, here are 15 of the best responses (not including the angry ones about how acknowledging this exists is a prelude to wiping out men):
1. Let's start off with Monica's example, which is egregious enough that it may spark its own genre: ManQuizzing.
Don't know if this is Mansplaining or ManQuizzing, you can decide.
This is a conversation which I actually witnessed; it occurred at my place in NY and it was between a male friend of my husband and a female friend of mine. They met for the first time, and my friend is very attractive and the male friend was obviously taken with her.
Man: So where do you live?
Woman: I live in Hollywood, Florida.
Man: Where is that?
Woman: That's in South Florida; not too far from Ft Lauderdale, close to Miami.
Man: Did you know that Miami has its own football team?
Woman: Um, yes.
Man: What's the team's name?
Woman: (giving me a glance like "Are you f'ing kidding me?) The Miami Dolphins.
Man: (With a satisfied look on his face) That's right. Very good.
2. This story from reader ACV is what happens when someone can speak English but can't seem to hear it.
I teach English as a Second Language. When I was starting out in the field, a man I was dating told me, "You're not fluent in Spanish, so how can you teach that class? It's impossible." Now, how he came to the conclusion that I could not do a thing, I cannot understand. He wasn't a teacher.
How he came to the conclusion that I could not do a thing in which I held a Masters degree, I really do not want to know.
I told him, "We have methods of teaching using English. I learned them in graduate school. Also, the people in my class represent eight different languages. It only makes sense to use English."
Fast forward through some heartbreak and many years. He has a partner and a child, and I'm married to a much better man, and my husband has taught me a lot of Spanish. The former boyfriend friends me on Facebook, and asks me what I'm up to. "I've just started teaching ESL at ___ Community College," I say.
"Well, I hear that these days you don't need to speak Spanish to teach ESL, so you should be fine," says he.
To be clear, this is not just the second time he Mansplained to me on the same subject; this time he Mansplained using the information I had told him the last time he tried it. And he assumed that in all those years I never learned Spanish.
Thank God I married someone else.
3. Normally, you talk about the weather to avoid controversy. As Sabina Amber points out, it's still no protection from condescension:
I was born and raised in the Los Angeles area and had lived there for 32 years. I was traveling for work and spent 6 months in Wyoming. At work one day I was discussing the smog in LA in the 70's and how bad it was because of the topography that caused the car and industrial emissions to collect in the basin to form an inversion layer. At this point this gentleman interrupts and tells me that I have no idea what I'm talking about and that LA has no inversion layer. Forget the fact that he was born and raised in Nebraska, had never actually been to LA, and that I had spent all those years watching weathermen describe the smog levels as a result of the inversion layer.....So, yea....mansplaining.
4. This story emailed in by an anonymous reader shows that some dudes can learn their lesson...if embarrassed by another dude in public.
My son has played football for about 9 years. I have been a football fan in general for almost all my life. When I am at his games by myself there is always some dad that tries to tell me how the plays work, what the referee means on penalty calls, and what the positions do. As I was volunteering on the sidelines one day doing what it called the "chain gang", I had a dad try to explain how to do it. I looked at him and told him he was wrong, he had his part of the chain in the wrong place and that he needed to move it. Then the referee came up and told him the same damn thing. He stopped trying to tell me anything after that and then started asking me questions.
5. Our reader Emily's story (probably) takes place at a coffee shop, but it's also the most universal.
I was once training a guy on his first day at work. I was making a drink and had my hands full and asked him to hand me an ingredient. He proceeded to explain to me where we keep the ingredient instead. Bitch, I've been working here for two years. You only know how to find the almond milk because I just showed you. Pipe down.
6. This amazing reader would like to be known as "Anne, a woman at every job ever" and judging by these stories, that's accurate.
I worked on a committee with a man who was convinced I could not disagree with him. Every time I did, with a fully articulated explanation about why I held a different view, he would respond, "You don't understand." And proceed to tell me AGAIN why his position was correct. Typically, he ignored my arguments against his position or taking a different position. So, it was just a recitation of his position. This would go on in a completely circular fashion, with me responding to each "you don't understand" and lengthy recitation of his position with "I understand, I don't agree" and my rebuttal, until the other members of the committee would lose their shit and call a halt to the "discussion."
7. Now, this tale from London (enjoy the "-re" and "ou" spelling) isn't so much "mansplaining" as "flat-out medieval chauvinism" but you can see the evolutionary links between the two.
I have a cracker for you; a good few years ago my hubby and I were on our way to a night out at the theatre to see The Woman In Black in London's West End. Anyway, we know pretty much all the quickest routes from A to B and, the train having run late, decided to get a cab for the last leg to avoid missing the start.
We gave the cabbie the theatre name and off we went. For anyone not familiar with London's black taxis, the doors are locked when you set off (this bit's important). After a couple of minutes, I realised he was taking us 'the long way around', so I politely asked him to the the next street and a particular route to save time (and money). After ignoring me twice I assertively asked him to take us the route I had asked him to.
All Hell broke loose; he drove down some really dodgy back alleys and then slammed the taxi to a stop at a traffic light, and began berating me for 'not knowing my place as a woman' and how dare I even have the nerve to tell him what to do etc.! My hubby sat, very patiently, as I showed the driver how sharp my teeth were, but then he started threatening me with a beating because 'in his country women know their place'.
At this point hubby goes native at the guy full-on 'Mediterranean' - who is refusing to unlock the doors to let us out - and is creaming at the guy who is now complaining that he ought to 'keep your woman under control' and telling him he is a 'weak man' for not 'keeping me under control' (LMAO - right???).
I start shouting in German, the driver is then screaming in (I think) Arabic, hubby starts shouting in Albanian. Imagine the scene: steamed up windows, 3 people shouting in different languages. Thankfully I spot 2 police officers and start banging on the window for help. They forced the driver to let us out - he continues his tirade about British women being mentally unstable etc., so hubby gives the police officer the fare as the driver is arrested.
8. This anonymous reader wrote to us from the sports world, where it's clear she is what hockey teams call an "enforcer."
I work in an major hockey arena in the operations department. I am the only female in my department and the only female manager in the building. I have created an atmosphere now where most men won't even crack a sexist comment of fear of my wrath that follows. I don't let them get away with much, however my male direct superior feels I am still inadequate in understanding certain aspects of this business.
I admittedly am not a fan of hockey, but as a Canadian I'm not a dumbass and know the basics and how it's played. A few years into my job and hundreds of hockey games later, we had a celebrity hockey tournament in our building and I was taking a moment to watch the game. A fight had broken out and one of the players was being escorted to the penalty box.
It was a bad call on the refs part and I commented "What! Come on!" My superior turns to me with a serious look on his face and says "You see, in hockey there are rules and when players break those rules they go to the penalty box " Then he continued to explain the rules of hockey and what calls would send players to the penalty box. Took me all my strength not to roll my eyes in front of him and walk away. Instead I encouraged him to continue to explain how hockey was played- eventually I think he got it as he pretended to get a phone call and walked away.
9. Dear Gabrielle on Facebook's boyfriend: do not doubt her skills with the tofu.
Definitely not as big a deal as I'm sure some of these will be, but I have been a vegetarian for eight years, and I've been cooking a lot of my own food since then. My boyfriend likes to tell me that I don't know how to make tofu. Or even how to open tofu. I mean, in love the guy but come on.
10. Maria's mansplanation was perhaps the most insultingly dumb, but at least he fessed up.
I was on a date with a guy and he was driving. I was freezing so I asked him 'do you mind if I turn the heat up?'
He indicated to the air conditioner nob (which dictates the temperature with red and blue lines) and says 'it's here, if you turn it towards to blue it goes colder but if you turn it towards the red it goes warmer'
To his credit, though, when I started laughing and said 'you totally just mansplained that to me' he said 'wow I did, I'm sorry... Want to learn how to open a car door too?'
Nice guy, we still talk.
11. Margeret's story raises important questions, like: What? Seriously? How could you even think... just.... why?
My sister and I went to an electronics store to buy a TV for her new apartment. She had narrowed it down to two options and we were discussing the merits of each when a (male) employee came over and started mansplaining to us that the 54" option was going to be a little bigger than the 50". I had to walk away because I didn't know whether to laugh or scream or cry.
12. If I'm being totally honest, I don't really understand this story (carpets absorb food, is my guess). But I do understand that Katelyn understands it, and that's what's important:
My then boyfriend, now my husband, once explained to me why his high school took out carpet from the cafeteria and replaced it with a hard surface. This seems innocent enough, until you find out that I'm a Kitchen and Bath designer with a college degree.
13. Kathryn on Facebook has clearly needed a place to vent about Skippy McNumnuts for a while.
A guy I work with often tries to tell me how I'm doing a task is wrong. And yet my assistant manager is about 2 seconds away from wringing this guy's neck for incorrectly rotating product ON A REGULAR BASIS. I work in a grocery store deli. Rotation is KINDA a big deal. But Skippy McNumnuts insists that he's the only one who knows how to do everything right. I'm just waiting for him to get his foot stuck in a trashcan.
14. Zoe on Facebook returns to a popular theme in this post: it's risky to talk about sports as a woman.
I was once at a bar with a couple male friends, and two guys none of us had ever met joined our conversation about football. We all love football, me included. The Super Bowl was about to be played between the Giants & the Patriots. I made a comment about how I hate the Patriots, even then they had their spying scandals, and I said Bill Belichick is a piece of shit.
One of the strangers overheard, said, "oh, a WOMAN is talking about football!" and went on a tirade about how terrible the Patriots are and I don't know what I'm talking about. funny, that's actually the opinion I was expressing! when I started to tell him i agree, that's what I was saying, he interrupted me to look to my two (male) friends to ask "whose woman is she?" I was absolutely dumbfounded. my quick-witted friend stepped in and said "damn man, she's her own woman!" and the guy shut up. I think the guy was drunk, but the whole thing was pretty obnoxious. sorry to all the Patriots fans, y'all should know a lot of people hate your team.
15. As a cute bonus: KayeC wrote us this adorable tale of her mansplainer-in-training.
Riding in the car to a doctors appointment with my 4 year old. He did not want to go. "We have to go now; we have an appointment today," I said to my son. His arms are crossed on his chest and his face is unhappy. "Well that's just great Mom," he says to me, "and I don't mean that's great, like that's awesome, I mean that's great like that sucks." A 4 year old boy explained his sarcasm to me.