Mansplain all the things

While perusing Facebook not too long ago I noticed a friend’s posting regarding a late night host’s video in which he had doctors telling people how they really felt about parents who chose not to vaccinate. Regardless of my personal stance on vaccinations (do it), I thought the video was funny as did everyone else who had commented on my friend’s Facebook.  However, I did notice a man who obviously wanted to engage in “something” because he commented somewhat incoherently about personal rights and freedoms and then went on to present two or three trivia-type questions on the history of vaccinations.


rothman_mansplain_postI was confused. I replied saying I wasn’t sure how vaccination history trivia was related to the conversation. And all of a sudden I was time-machined into the empty headed child I never was because I had challenged the relevancy of this man’s comment. Pulling out his best patronizing tone, the man proceeded to tell me all about the history of smallpox vaccinations and how George Washington saved our country by making our revolutionary troops be vaccinated and therefore, Why couldn’t I understand all the things? The Founding Fathers’ sacred history will save our country yet again!

Oh, really. Of course.

The smugness and condescending tone of this man reeked with his self-importance. The history lesson he gave me was not only unnecessary but also, still, unrelated to the topic at hand. A topic he had, in fact, forced upon us involved — the connection between the history of vaccinations and the current vaccination outbreak.  As in, there is none.

The real problem for this man, though, was not his own irrelevancy but that I challenged him.  I called him out for playing a history card that has no bearing on the current topic. And I called him out for being condescending and mansplaining something to me that I already knew. Here’s an interesting thing about how men and women generally communicate, and it has nothing to do with being from different planets or one gender being more superior than another. It has to do with how men and women are taught to communicate from the time they are children. Women are told constantly in many different ways that they talk too much when in reality societal expectations want women to just plain talk less. It has nothing to do with how many words are being used but about how they are used. And many men don’t want women using them, period.

Women are told to communicate more like men.  According to Soraya Chemaly from Salon, “[w]hen women do engage in characteristically ‘male’ ways men are frequently condescending and patronizing”. Fundamentally, one of the issues in the situation between me and the man who loves George Washington comes down to what Jen Dziura, a former debater and now a writer, identifies: “Women’s emotions are ’emotions,’ men’s emotions are ‘How People Talk.'”

This man who first tried to hijack the entire conversation into parts unknown for intentions designed to highlight his superior knowledge in history was offended and immediately accused me of calling him names. Clearly, my ability to point out that his attempt at connect two unrelated topics was an insult to him and by pointing out the tone he used with me was condescending was, to him, the same as calling him a name.  I think that would be his reasoning. He was also stunned I said did not need his mansplaining, and after correcting my spelling of mansplaining (he misspelled it), let me know that he had never used the term ever in his life until that moment.

He then went on to explain, again, why vaccination trivia was not trivia at all but really, really important to know. Just listen to him.  He will explain all the things.

Women are also guilty of mansplaining, of course, and “mansplaining” is really just another word for being an obtuse ass. So what exactly was the problem here?

The problem is that women should have no problem in communication, be it online or in person. For some reason, there are definite yet unspoken “rules” of what women can and cannot do when communicating because they will be held to some sort of bizarre standard.  And if women choose to not fit this standard than they will almost always be automatically punished for it some way.  If there is any doubt about this, consider the following:

  • If women trash talk or try to talk sports online, then they will be called whores, sluts, cunts and/or threatened with violence.
  • If women engage in debate, assert their opinions, confront those who insult them, then they will be called bitches, dykes, butch, PMSing and/or threatened with violence.
  • If women become emotional about a topic they are passionately involved with, then they will be called weak, manipulative, cry-babies, PMSing and/or threatened with violence.

The list can go on and of course the list of what women are called can be endless, but what is one thing most all women will have in common? They will be threatened with some sort of violence.

I wasn’t threatened with violence nor was I called any name. This time. However, for those who think that these types of conversations where a man will get bit “touchy” or “pissy” just because a woman challenges him are normal, I would ask you to consider this: Why have we collectively allowed this to feel normal? Because I feel that if someone, man or woman, is being condescending to me, I will point it out to that person and that person should be able to recognize the difference between “Your tone is condescending” and “Hey, you’re being a jerk”. There’s a reason why some words are adverbs and some are nouns, and I feel that it is to help clear up confusion in times like these.

I really think George Washington would want us to  know these things.


C. Streetlights
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Published by C. Streetlights

I wrote and illustrated my first bestseller, "The Lovely Unicorn" in the second grade and I've been terrified of success ever since. Published by ShadowTeamsNYC and represented by Lisa Hagen Books