Let me mansplain something to you about mansplaining. No, that doesn’t sound right. I’m pretty sure I am not a mansplainer by either nature or nurture. At least I don’t think I am. I hope I’m not. My brother Peter has always been prone to offering unsolicited advice on topics he has (literally) no familiarity with, which I have to say has always fascinated me. We used to just call it unsolicited advice, but now we call it *mansplaining*. I like the term *mansplain* better because number 1, solicited or not, it is never *advice*. It’s always a condescending patronizing lecture. Often a painfully slow meander down a narcissistic arrogant boulevard that goes unendingly nowhere. Also, I find, in my own experience, that a far greater number of men end up engaging in this act of pedanticity (a word I’m pretty sure I made up to mean the irritating habit of being pedantic – assuming you know more about just about everything and feeling the need to explain just about everything to the rest of us dummies who clearly need your expertise and advice on just about everything). But I digress.
I have long been interested (read that: exasperated) by mansplaining. Even before there was a name for it. In part, because I am one of those poor souls who seem to be a magnet for mansplainers. I don’t know why. Maybe I have a naturally stupid look on my face (instead of resting bitch face, maybe I have resting stupid face) that compels people to explain things to me. Or perhaps I am just too unassuming and people misinterpret my openness and curiosity for bewilderment. Whatever it is, I am often on the receiving end of a mansplanation. And quite frankly, more often than not, the mansplanations are; (1) boring, (2) something I already know – oftentimes better than the person mainsplaining to me, (3) something that the mansplainer has absolutely no knowledge or experience with, and/or (4) something I wasn’t interested in to begin with! And I end up held captive because I’m just too – polite? demure? afraid to anger, offend or shame the mansplainer? much of a wuss? – to interrupt and say dismissively, “yeah buddy, I already know all that”. Because we all know the mansplainer’s response to that – I end up being the bad guy.
Hoo boy, this is going to require more than one post. I want to know what the thought process is that leads to and accompanies people who mansplain. It is definitely an unfortunate tendency, at least in my opinion. In addition to finding it highly tiresome, I end up feeling trapped, claustrophobic, as if I am about to suffocate, unable to disengage myself from the mansplanation. I guess what I need more than the knowledge of why people mansplain, is the ability to get the hell away from a mansplanation once I’m stuck having to listen to one! Or better yet, the understanding of why people tend to mansplain things to me so I can give off different vibes in the first place.
I’ll give you an example: As you all know, hockey is the love of my life. I currently play on a few mens’ leagues. I am generally the only non-cis-male on the ice. In each game I am one of 2 (out of approximately 25) people who play goal. I am frequently the recipient of *feedback* or *advice* on how and where to play my position. Now, I’m not opposed to getting advice. I am relatively new (only been playing goal for 2 years) to the position. I have absolutely no problem (and actually welcome it) when the other goalies give me help, suggestions or recommendations on how to play the position. What I do take issue with is that I am frequently receiving instruction from men who have NEVER PLAYED GOAL! Some, who are, like me, novices to playing hockey at all. So you say, well maybe they have WATCHED more hockey than I have. I thought that too at first. But then I watched as total beginners have wobbled out onto the ice, careening into the boards, barely able to skate never mind play and no one gives them any help, feedback, lectures, advice, or suggestions. Defensemen lining up near the forwards. Forwards lining up on the wrong side of the red line. There’s one guy I refer to as “crazy-legs”. The guy is downright hazardous! Falling down all the time, crashing into members of his own team, losing his stick, skating into the net and even scoring on his own team, perpetually off-sides. I have never once seen any man on either team approach crazy-legs and *help* him by explaining anything to him. Even small easily explained things like being “off-sides”. Not a word. They just let him have at it. And sometimes I fantasize about dropping my stick and my gloves mid-mansplanation, taking off my helmet and saying, “Here you go pal. You wanna show me how it’s done? Why don’t you take a turn between the pipes while guys fire 100-mile-an-hour slapshots at your face.” Perhaps something like this?
I’m thinking about this all now for a few reasons. One, I feel like I’m beginning to take up a little more *man-space* in the world lately and I don’t want to end up a mansplainer. Two, I feel less tolerant being the recipient of mansplanations since starting on testosterone. And I don’t know exactly what it is. As in is it mind over matter. I just know I have even less patience with unsolicited avuncular advice and rambling than I ever have (and I didn’t have a lot to begin with). It certainly is something I’m going to have to continue to consider.