Mansplaining is a neologism which refers to the patronizing way that certain men tend to explain things to women. Every woman has encountered this at some point in her life -- in the hardware store, on the phone with the IT guy, or talking to the cable installer. No matter her level of expertise (or his: incompetents are just as likely to mansplain as professionals), the mansplainer will patiently, paternalistically walk her through his explanation as if he is talking to a child. His explanation may be redundant, irrelevant, or downright wrong, but that does not matter to him since his main goal is to appear more knowledgeable than she is.

Mansplaining about feminism is particularly common. If a woman mentions an observation about a woman-centered issue, a mansplainer will inevitably swoop in and enumerate several reasons why she is overreacting, that it isn't at all like she says it is, men have it rough too, and so on.

The common protest (perhaps someone is indignantly typing it into the Blab! box as we speak) is that women, too, can be assholes about their areas of "expertise." This is true; nevertheless, the word "mansplaining" needs to remain gendered. This is because society tends to reward men for emphasizing their knowledge, while women are generally punished for it. In other words, the woman who argues with the IT guy about Linux is perceived as a pushy, know-it-all bitch, while the man who does it is simply, well, explaining. A woman who holds forth with stupid explanations will be shamed and eyerolled right then and there; men, however, will be congratulated and encouraged for being "go-getters."

Related portmanteaux include whitesplaining and straightsplaining, where members of dominant groups try to set minorities straight about minority issues.

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Well, hapax, that is a pretty good try, but I think you are missing a few key points: let me show you how it REALLY works. Here, listen up...

Mansplaining comes in two varieties. First, there is the professorial type. The cool, competent guy who is articulate and experienced. I was actually going to explain this with a lot more theoretical baggage, describing the roles of subject and object, and the role of constructivism versus received knowledge in the formulation of knowledge, and how this all relates to gender differences. And the theoretical question is fascinating, but the best way to explain it is to bring up some cliches. The best cliche is how many female college students get crushes on their male professors. Yes, women are attracted, romantically and otherwise, to men who are intelligent, authoritative, and able to express themselves. So this is the Class 1 Mansplainer: the man who is an authority, or who can at least pass for one. Whether the Class 1 Mansplainer actually is imparting information that is useful, and whether he is doing it in a respectful, non-condescending manner, varies. Sometimes a bit of condescending is needed. While the Mansplainer Class 1 might be talking to a woman with ten years of IT experience, he doesn't know that, and he must assume the Least Common Denominator, which involves explaining things like you can't download RAM.

Men observe this interaction, and hoping to impress women, they try to copy the success of the Mansplainer Class 1. Unlike the Class 1s, however, these men are not successful. They do not manage to cultivate the combination of authority, sensitivity, urbanity and articulation that the Mansplainer Class 1 uses to impress women. Many times, they do not actually understand the subject they wish to explain as well as they should. Even more times, they don't understand the social skills, or have the communication skills, needed to explain something properly. These men typically bore, annoy or disturb women. These men don't usually even reach the level of condescension. And these teeming masses make up the Mansplainer, Class 2.

One of the things that Hapax says above is that society "rewards" men for knowing things and demonstrating their knowledge. Again, I could discuss the theoretical issues of hard and soft social power, etcetera. But instead, I will just use concrete example, directed towards the reader: how many times have YOU seen a man without obvious social status, without social skills, and without an actual knowledge of the subject, rewarded socially, (by men or women), for holding forth on Linux\Car Repair\Politics\The Moons of Jupiter. In my experience, this isn't reward-gaining behavior.

So there are two separate classes of Mansplainers: one the professorial, articulate type with actual social status, who DOES manage to impress women with his knowledge. The other type, the low-social class, low-social skill rambler who manages to annoy women with his useless information. And unlike other classes, where the two seem to grade into each other, The Mansplainers are quite distinct, someone is either very obviously a Mansplainer, Class 1 or a Mansplainer, Class 2.

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