Suzanne Franks has a couple of posts where she tries to explain what a “mansplainer” is. Delightfully, she uses me as her prime example.
First, some clarification. Just what is mansplaining? I like this definition.
Mansplaining isn’t just the act of explaining while male, of course; many men manage to explain things every day without in the least insulting their listeners.
Mansplaining is when a dude tells you, a woman, how to do something you already know how to do, or how you are wrong about something you are actually right about, or miscellaneous and inaccurate “facts” about something you know a hell of a lot more about than he does.
Bonus points if he is explaining how you are wrong about something being sexist!
My favorite part is that it starts out with the faux attempt at equality by saying “mansplaining” isn’t just the act of explaining while male, but then quickly goes on to say “Mansplaining is when a dude tells you, a woman…you are wrong about something you are actually right about…” That precisely is what this ‘definition’ just purported to not be. The claim is that if a man dares hold a position and explain it – and to a woman! the audacity! – then he is being condescending. How is this not sexist? A man can obviously be right while a woman is wrong and he can explain why. Furthermore, he can be wrong while she is right and not be condescending based upon sex. That should be obvious to anyone who hasn’t taken the plunge off the crazy bridge. But I’m disagreeing and giving my reasons why, so I guess I must be mansplaining. What a convenient term, huh?
Oh, and men can have no positions on sexism, what constitutes sexism, why something is good or bad in regards to sexism, or how sexism can be a two-way street. If they do, they’re being sexist.
Franks then goes on to list three things that make me a mansplainer.
1. You MUST explain why everything I said is beside the point, and wrong, and silly.
2. You MUST explain why you are not a mansplainer, then re-explain things to the wimminz. Also, call them sexist.
3. You MUST explain that you mansplain because you assume that blogs are written by men, then re-explain things to the wimminz AGAIN.
All those come with links to comments I left on her blog. Go to her post to get to them.
In number one, she was wrong. I explained why, even as audacious as it is to explain things while being guilty of having a penis. (I mean, come on. She called a black woman white just for the sake of dragging racism into the whole thing and then she couldn’t admit her mistake; she’s a child – and not because she has a vagina.) Instead of addressing anything, all Franks offers is declarations. She isn’t interested in defending anything she thinks; she’s happy just having a relatively large audience who is receptive to her deep-end philosophy. This contrasts with the quality seen on most of ScienceBlogs.com since most bloggers there will tend to actually argue their points.
Number two is just a re-hash of the ‘definition’ from earlier. If a man explains something to a woman, it’s sexist. It’s a convenient cop-out.
As I (audaciously!) explained in previous posts, I never said my assumption (that the post was by a man) was good or bad. What’s more, I was also going on the fact that Franks looks like a man with long hair in her picture. I didn’t originally raise that point for the sake of not being so crude, but if she’s going to hammer on the point, then that’s what’s going to happen. What I did say, however, was that because I had assumed the post was by a man, I couldn’t possibly be “mansplaining”. That blows this whole dumb claim of condescending explanation based upon sex out of the water. Of course, instead of addressing that, Franks has decided to pretend I made a normative claim about my assumption. She looks like a man, I assumed she was a man, and I thought I was arguing against a man.
But then Franks goes on to make this condescending post about men. Her basis, yet again, is another man who dares disagree with her. This one, though, I think is more entertaining than her post on me because all she did was quote an entire post by the user Jon. The implication is that his post is so absurd that it needs no comment. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Here’s a thought experiment for you. Let’s say that I agree with the premise that there’s a particular kind of male behavior that is condescending to females.
Now, let’s say that while I agree that this behavior exists and has certain identifiable qualities, more conceptual clarity is needed, in that there needs to be some sort of boundary around this behavior.
For the sake of argument, let’s also assume the following:
(1) that not everyone has a clear idea of where this boundary is and some of their examples may not fit the initial definition.
(2) the possibility of error, i.e., that some of you are potentially incorrect in identifying certain behaviors as mansplaining when they’re better described as some other behavior (may or may not be related).
(3) a male is actually able to participate in this discussion and disagree without being a mansplainer and the same goes for a female without being a FemaleMansplainer
Okay, if you agree with that I’ve written, I want to you imagine your perfect interlocutor, presumably someone that’s well-informed about the issues and the arguments. Imagine that this interlocutor nonetheless disagrees with some or all of your arguments. What criticisms would they offer?
What constitutes the best possible argument against this idea of the Mainsplainer? Can you play devil’s advocate and come up with arguments? What would they be?
Whoa, whoa, whoa! This is absurd! Jon is going off on all this fruitful discussion and other mansplaining bullshit! How could he.
I suppose the joke really has been on me. I have a pretty severe case of SIWOTI, so I pretty freely fall into these sort of useless ‘discussions’ on the Internet (and by “discussions”, I mean I was discussing something; Franks’ and co were making declarations, likely out of the emptiness of their deep-end philosophy). It should have been clear with what sort of person I was dealing: Franks and friends aren’t interested in furthering any causes of women. No, these people are more interested in being caricatures of feminists. They are the fodder of bad sitcoms. They are part of the reason people like Sarah Palin is a big deal. They are little more than Poe’s Law applied to deep-end feminists. These people do feminism a disservice when they declare everything to be sexism – especially when they feel it so crucial to employ sexism to make their points.
But there I go, mansplaining and all again. How dare I disagree with feminists on the Internet. The only reason can be that I think I’m inherently better.