For the Uninitiated: Mansplaining

Mansplain (v.): to explain something to someone, typically a man to woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing. Source: Oxford English Dictionary.

DilbertMansplainers

In an article in the Atlantic in 2012, Lily Rothman proposed an article published in the same Journal over a century earlier as the ultimate example of mansplaining.  Written by a prominent New England theologian called Lyman Abbot, the article called “Why Women Do Not Wish the Suffrage,” Abbott spoke on behalf of a ‘silent majority’ of women he believed did not want suffrage.

I believe it is because woman feels, if she does not clearly see, that the question of woman suffrage is more than merely political; that it concerns the nature and structure of society,—the home, the church, the industrial organism, the state, the social fabric. And to a change which involves a revolution in all of these she interposes an inflexible though generally a silent opposition. It is for these silent women—whose voices are not heard in conventions, who write no leaders, deliver no lectures, and visit no legislative assemblies—that I speak.  Lyman Abbot – Mansplainer

Initially popular amongst feminist bloggers, the term has subsequently entered the mainstream and was long-listed as the word of the year in 2014 by the Oxford English Dictionary.  Although a pejorative term generally directed towards men,  it can also be applied to women.

As the term has grown in popularity some critics have noted that the term can also be used to unfairly discredit the speaker or his arguments without having to provide counter-arguments. Typically, the mansplainer is simultaneously implied to be sexist or misogynistic.

Not to be confused with femsplaining.

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