I’ve decided the term mansplaining needs to lose the gender reference.
I’m not being a sweet little PC snowflake here: I just think it is unfair to label this as a thing that only men do. I’ve been at the receiving end of unnecessary explanations by a wide range of people, but not any more often from men than from women. What’s more, as I have spent a good deal of my career in the position of mentor, I find it perhaps a little too easy to slip into this mode myself.
Yes, men do it, but women do it too, not to mention non-binary folk: So it’s not mansplaining, it’s just splaining. (I can’t claim credit for coining this term: A frequent bit on the show I Love Lucy was to make fun of Ricky’s Cuban accent, thus he frequently would tell Lucy that she “had some splaining to do.”)
I know it can be annoying to be on the receiving end of a splaining session, but it’s not always coming from a negative place:
— Splaining is what people do when they are confident… or so lacking in confidence that they are making up for what they lack.
— It’s what people do in an effort to be helpful… or to show off.
— Splaining is how someone demonstrates their fragile superiority… or how they walk through the steps together with you to see if there’s something missing.
— It’s what people do if they are arrogant… or simply unsure of what you already know and so are saving you from having to recreate the wheel.
— Splaining can be an asshole move… or it can be well intentioned
All of this means, depending on the attitude of the person it is coming from, being splained to can be exasperating or it can be very informative and even welcome.
And even though I just spent all this time dropping “man” from the term, I couldn’t resist dropping this here (with thanks to my friend Ron for sending it):