One of my new neighbours is a mansplainer. Awesome. I’d almost forgotten how it feels to be ‘splained in meat space.
I’m frequently forced to spend my precious coffee breaks listening to Mr X’s superior knowledge about why women should carry pepper spray, how fish mate in estuaries, and a repeat of the speech I got yesterday about how armed response works. Yup. I had to listen to that one twice, and yup, ‘forced’ is the correct word, because mansplainers who are reminded mid-speech that they already spent 30 minutes ‘splaining that to you yesterday do not stop—not if they take their splaining seriously, anyway. They ignore you and talk even louder because mansplaining is less about misogyny than about the inalienable right to have The Wimmenz prostrate themselves at the altar of your male ego, which is always waiting for its next metaphorical orgasm. Oh, right. That is misogyny in a nutshell, isn’t it?
My stepfather would win The Mansplaining Lifetime Achievement Award if there was one, so I can say with certainty that there’s no civil way to escape such monologues. I spent much of my adolescence trying. Using directness to get a mansplainer to quit is like trying to stop a tsunami with a one-foot wall. This is what makes mansplaining so damned uncomfortable for me: it’s a time thief, and I spend most of those hours trying to get out politely. In the end, my psyche feels as though it’s done a contortion act worthy of Cirque du Soleil.
“It’s good of you to help, but I already read the novel, so there’s no need to tell me how it ends.”
“Would you mind at all if we spoke about this another time? I have a deadline.”
“Thank you for the information. I really do appreciate it, but I studied this in college, remember?”
Politeness: the only known way to get a mansplainer to extend his lecture by an extra hour.
I once asked a manspreader to shift his leg so that half of my body wasn’t dangling off the last chair in the taxi. He spread his legs even further. Much like manspreading, mansplaining is shameless about taking up more space in the world than it needs: space that’s clearly necessary for somebody else. It wants to make you uncomfortable. It wants to make you struggle through a thousand polite but useless ways to reclaim your time.
That’s why neither mansplaining nor manspreading are limited to the male species: you don’t need misogyny to feel entitled…
… but it sure helps.