Mansplaining.jpg

Columnist Sarah Poyer explains the concept and effects of "mansplaining."

Recently, I was working on homework while a good friend of mine was in a Zoom meeting. I couldn’t help but notice that almost every time one of the women on the call would express an opinion (which they were asked to do), one guy, in particular, would interrupt and interject as if he was trying to explain. This guy was trying to reexplain what these women had already explained for themselves.

My friend and I were having a conversation after her meeting and I expressed concern over this, to which she said, “Yeah, he does it every meeting.” I was then having a conversation with a different friend a while later, and she expressed to me that while this kind of "mansplaining" upset her, it’s just normal and has always happened. Why aren’t we taking a stand against mansplaining and holding these men accountable for it? 

Unfortunately, we see sexism in our everyday lives but are hesitant to speak out about it, or maybe we are blatantly ignoring it. Merriam-Webster defines mansplaining as “explaining something to a woman in a condescending way that assumes she does not know about the topic.” This behavior automatically assumes that women are less knowledgeable than men, so they need things explained to them.

In my experience, the men doing the mansplaining have not waited for me to ask a question, but instead have just jumped in to explain the concept to and for me. This has often led to me either zoning out or not listening because he started explaining things I already knew or talked down to me, both of which lose my interest pretty quickly. In preparing to write this, I spoke with many friends, and everyone recognized specific times where they distinctly remembered experiencing mansplaining. This left me wondering, do men know that they’re mansplaining, or is it just second nature to explain things to women? 

To be clear, I am not saying every man does this, nor am I saying this is an occurrence that women experience daily (although it happens more than we are aware of). However, I am saying that we need to recognize that your gender does not make you inherently smarter than someone else, just as one person’s gender does not make them less competent. As a whole, we should do better to make women feel safer in their environment. Women cannot express their opinions or ask questions without fear of being talked down to. How can we fix this, or at least try to? 

First off, let’s educate people on the effects of mansplaining. Just being aware of the harm that mansplaining can cause is pretty essential. The Chicago Tribune published an article titled “The harm of mansplaining at work,” wherein many women discussed how mansplaining at work affected them.

Recognizing how impactful mansplaining is can hopefully put a sliver of doubt in someone’s mind before they go and do it. BBC also published an article regarding mansplaining titled “Mansplaining, explained in one simple chart.” The writer shares how you can decipher whether what you are saying would be characterized as mansplaining. Having helpful information like this may help us cut down on the mansplaining happening in our daily lives.

Let’s get educated and tackle the sexism that is lurking in our daily lives. 

Sarah Poyer profile pic

Columnist Sarah Poyer is a senior in women's and gender studies with minors in philosophy and biology. 

Opinion Policies

Editorials are longer opinion pieces that are written by a group of community members recruited across campus who address relevant issues on a local, national and international level. Editorials are research-based. The purpose of the Editorial Board is to promote discussion concerning relevant issues in the community while advising on possible solutions. Topics are chosen via relevancy and interests of the members, which are then discussed by the Editorial Board in order to reach a general consensus concerning the topic or issue.

Feedback policy

If you have a grievance concerning the content or argument of the Editorial Board, please contact either Opinion Editor Peyton Hamel (peyton.hamel@iowastatedaily.com) or the Editorial Board as a whole (editorialboard@iowastatedaily.com). Those wanting to respond to editorials can also submit a letter to the editor through the Iowa State Daily website or by emailing the letter to Opinion Editor Peyton Hamel (peyton.hamel@iowastatedaily.com) or Editor-in-Chief Sage Smith (sage.smith@iowastatedaily.com).

Column Policy

Columns are hyper-specific to opinion and are written by only columnists employed by the Iowa State Daily. Columnists are unique because they have a specific writing day and only publish on those writing days. Each column undergoes a thorough editing process ensuring the integrity of the writer, and their claim is maintained while remaining research-based and respectful. Columns may be submitted from community members. These are labelled as “Guest Columns.” These contain similar research-based content and need to be at least 400 words in length. The following requirements should be met: first and last name, email and relation or position to Iowa State. Emails must be tied to the submitted guest column or it will not be accepted or published. Pseudonyms are prohibited and the writer will be banned from submissions.

Read our full Opinion Policies here. Updated on 10/7/2020

(2) comments

Noah Kopischke

Mansplaining is fake news. Prove me wrong.

J. T.

Mansplaining is a made up word to describe a non-problem. Change my mind

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.