Sorry but the word Mansplain sucks


So Macquarie Dictionary’s 2014 word of the year is Mansplain:

“verb (t) Colloquial (humorous) (of a man) to explain (something) to a woman, in a way that is patronising because it assumes that a woman will be ignorant of the subject matter. [MAN + (EX)PLAIN with s inserted to create a pronunciation link with explain.”

I’m pretty disappointed with this.

Maybe I’m suffering from feminism-overload because of the many articles, tweets and Facebook posts I read but I actually find it a little offensive.

Addressing society’s attitudes to gender is possibly the biggest hurdle we face in correcting gender inequality but sometimes I feel like we go so far the other way that we over generalise, and forget that there are some men out there doing a good job. I am not jumping on the #NotAllMen train by any means.

Actually I think the examples given as ‘mansplanations’ – from Clive Palmer to Rand Paul (and yeah maybe even the Rebecca Solnit one) – were not necessarily because they were men but because they were jerks.

Yes, I know that a lot of men are jerks to women because they have lived believing they are more entitled simply because of their gender. This is the core of feminism.

Clem Ford’s recent #QuestionsForMen was an excellent example of this, raising simple questions for men to answer that women face every day but men may have never considered – and they all relate to gender. Questions of personal safety, dress choices, career validity, their place in the home and relationship roles.

However to label the actions of a person acting in a manner that is overbearing, patronizing and just plain rude as mansplaining to me, feels like a cop-out. I’m going to play the ‘personal experience’ card here and say that I’ve had women speak to me like that. I’ve had men speak to me like that. I’ve witnessed men speak to men like that, men speak to women like that and women speak to men like that. You know what the common denominator was? Personality. Not gender.

I am a feminist. I want to change attitudes and behaviours. I am raising my son to see females as his equals. But I don’t believe that putting men down is the way to do it.