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SEXIST BEATDOWN: Douche Chills Edition

Ladies! Do you have problems dealing sometimes? Specifically, do you have problems dealing with THE SEXISM?

Yeah, you do. Because it’s cool; because it’s sooooooo much more sophisticated than that “feminism” thing (remember: sexism ended in the ’70s! We are beyond it! And we can prove that by being SEXIST again); because a substantial amount of the population doesn’t recognize its own sexism or else doesn’t care. Oh, and also because standing up to this population can be scary and gross at times. THE ENEMY IS WITHIN.

For the sake of reference, let’s call this population “douches!” And in this edition of SEXIST BEATDOWN, the delightful Amanda Hess of The Sexist and I shall discuss both the trials and joys of douche management. With delightful examples from Rebecca Solnit and Deborah Solomon, douche managers extraordinaire!

1950s lysolILLUSTRATION: First you’re calling people out on their sexism. Then you’re forgetting to put Lysol up your vagina. It’s a slippery slope, people!

SADY:: why, good day, madam! allow me to EXPLAIN why we should talk about dudes who EXPLAIN things to the ladies. and other assorted douches!


AMANDA: YEAH!

SADY:: i have indeed read the article you recommend. which is delightful! and i have been thinking about douches all week long. seems to me they are a reoccuring problem in human life! specifically, douches of the SEXIST variety.


AMANDA: yes. first i’d like to say that we are all, at one point or another, douches. some douches, however, endure, and withstand the test of time.


SADY:: right. it’s when “douche” stops being an accidental, occasional thing and becomes a lifestyle that you really have to think about strategies.


AMANDA: for example: the douchey guy who was explaining to Rebecca Solnit about this book that she wrote and he didn’t read that he thought she didn’t understand. i, too, have thought i understood things that i didn’t understand. i was once a tween! but when you grow out of your tweens and begin lecturing historians about nonfiction books they’ve recently published, perhaps it’s time to consider WHY you think you know the things that you don’t know.


SADY:: right: or (same article!) the douche-by-default who told this DELIGHTFUL story about how a neighbor’s wife had run out of the house and started screaming that her husband was trying to kill her. ha! ha! a merry jest! unless, you know, her husband was trying to kill her. a possibility Mr. DBD apparently didn’t consider. it’s people assuming that they have the right to define what matters and what doesn’t, and defining that 100% in their favor at all times, that i think makes a true douche.


AMANDA: one of the things that Solnit talks about is how strong gender roles play into her reactions to these affronts to her intelligence. she’s really, really polite! (and then, of course, balls up her outrage into a really awesome LAT opinion piece, but she’s polite to their faces) EVEN when, as she says, it’s completely obvious to everyone that these Men Who Explain Things are shitting their douche all over the place.


SADY:: right. and i think that’s the issue. one of the things a Sexist Douche capitalizes on is that ladies are socialized, more or less from birth, not to express anger or outrage publicly. not to be confrontational AT ALL, in fact. and the double-bind there is that, if you don’t express anger or outrage, people get away with walking all over you, and they can say that you “deserved” it. but if you DO, you’re not acting like a REAL WOMAN, and you are therefore absurd! fodder for a delightful joke yourself!

AMANDA: yeah, and even I—and I do not give a shit about censoring myself when I write a piece—I experience this pretty frequently in person. I’ve attributed it to shyness, but I think there’s a gendering in the form of deference that it can take. case in point: a male friend was telling me a story about how he was at a bar, and this college student aged women was sitting alone at the bar. and an older drunk guy was sitting next to her, and he was grossly flirting with her, and the college aged woman was humoring him - politely laughing at his jokes, etc. and my friend relayed the story back to me, saying that he thought the woman’s behavior was ‘disgusting,’ and he didn’t understand why she would flirt with the guy.

SADY:: uh, yeah. because it’s not like ladies routinely do that to NOT be called a bitch!

AMANDA: yeah! and the guy is drunk, and you don’t want trouble, and you just want to drink your beer.


SADY:: right. and i think some guys, not having done that, don’t realize how shitty and scary it can get. like, once i was walking down the block past a cafe with an open-air porch. and two guys make some loud comment about how my tits are SPECTACULAR and do i want to sit with them? and i say “fuck off,” as you do. and these guys GOT IN THEIR VAN AND FOLLOWED ME AND SCREAMED AT ME FOR LIKE FIVE BLOCKS.

AMANDA: i mean, why were you being such a bitch? I think that Men who Explain Things are kind of like Drunk Guy At Bar or Drunk Guys Who Like Boobs, that you either have to say, ‘fuck off, dude’ and risk their wrath, or just ignore it and nod along. because—in this article!—even when you try to politely correct them, because you are a polite woman who happens to know something, they won’t even listen and/or believe you. and it is a pain! as someone who has basically grown up with the internet, everyone can call everyone else on their shit pretty easily, and i know i’ve been called out as much as i’ve called other people out. but it’s been surprising to me how many people have just not even listened to me over the course of time. just physically not even listened! people who are not Drunk Explainy Guy, but rather My Friends


SADY:: right. and, i mean, i think it’s a form of asserting authority. if you Explain Things, you’re attempting to create an environment in which you are the expert and the lady you’re talking to is dumber than you. but if somebody challenges you, and you react with either belligerence or out-of-hand dismissal, you are still asserting authority. i seriously wonder if guys realize what a sexist power play this is. creating an environment in which you are the authority and objecting to you or calling you out on your shit is either unsafe or looked-down-upon or both. i mean, i am typically fairly confrontational one-on-one. like, confrontational sometimes in unsafe ways that have resulted in me being followed down the block or punched in the face or whatever. but i often, when there are people around, find myself being kind of disappointingly meek and subtle and caring more about whether i seem like a “good sport” than whether i’m articulating my point as fully as possible.

AMANDA: totally. can i tell a college story?

SADY:: oh yes!

AMANDA: SO IN COLLEGE, I think everyone has a little bit of Explain Things in them. you’re in college and you know everything, whatever. and in my college, in my group of friends, the positions of authority were (a) people who were funny, and (b) people who could buy beer. and so the jokes could get kind of competitive in conversation, and there were so many times that my boyfriend, who was also funny, would STEAL MY JOKES.

SADY:: AUGH

AMANDA: and not like, i would tell him a joke one day and he would use it the next day, among friends. i would make a comment, and he would repeat the comment—not necessarily louder, but from him—and then people would laugh! oh my god! it was torture! and a friend of mine, who was also dating a guy in the same circle of friends, recently reported the exact same thing. I know people could hear me, because he STOLE MY JOKES, but for some reason they weren’t funny until he said them

SADY:: AHHHH! This happens ALL THE TIME! I too have experienced the hell of Point/Joke-Repeating Torture!

AMANDA: REALLY?

SADY:: for me, it’s not often jokes so much as serious points. like, people like my jokes just fine. but in, like, work meetings, or classes, or serious discussions, i’ll say something (or another woman will say something, or a person of color will say something: it works along MORE THAN ONE AXIS, i tell you) and it won’t even be heard. or people will just kind of be like, oh! Whatever! The lady said something! ON TO SERIOUS BUSINESS. and then a dude will say the VERY SAME THING and people will engage.

AMANDA: the worst thing about this is that, uh, it comes off looking like a bit of a conspiracy theory. like, I KNOW I SAID IT. but nobody else seems to recall it in the same way, and the LA Times piece talks about that too - competing memories of the same event, where two people remember different things being said and happening (mostly: the douche remembers the lady being crazy and/or irrelevant), and only one of those memories is valued. it’s enough to drive someone crazy, but i do think that all of these things have really significantly affected my personality. like, i feel like i’ve definitely become a lot more confident in my ideas and my positions, and better at articulating them, since i started writing about lady stuff. but it’s likely that i’ve become shyer in person—just because after i’ve put myself out there i know how absolutely intense and insane the reeactions from strangers can be. the’yre scary, and it’s a lot easier to ignore them if they’re online

SADY:: oh, yeah. can i tell you the best/worst side effect of lady blogging for me?

AMANDA: yes


SADY:: first, most of the people in my life read the ladyblog and have said kind things about it. so i am like, WELL! should i choose to weigh in on LADYBUSINESS, surely my opinion will be valued!


AMANDA: oh no…


SADY:: but then, since i have ALSO received so much feedback to the effect that i am an insane delusional preachy humorless feminazi, i also start worrying that everyone else thinks THAT of me, too.


AMANDA: yeah. YES. i TOO HAVE EXPERIENCED THIS. and honestly, part of it is a reflection of the fact that i just want to live my life like anyone and not bring my work home with me that if a dude i know makes a comment, i don’t necessarily step up to the bat. i choose my battles. but some people i think are afraid that i’m going to be a “bitch” to them!

SADY:: right! and the constant awareness of what people might think of you if they are huge sexists can actually make you the most incoherent person alive! “ha ha, well, I’M LAUGHING AT YOUR JOKE, but it’s really not funny, and I’M NOT INSANE, but i think that’s fucked up, BUT I WANT TO BE NICE ABOUT IT, but you are being an asshole!” this constant dance between feeling obliged to speak up and trying to do the insane performing-monkey Look You Can’t Stereotype Me Dance.

AMANDA: exactly. can we end by talking about someone who has managed to make a career out of conquering douchebags, Deborah Solomon?

SADY:: i believe we should do so!

AMANDA: i’m sure tons of people have called deborah solomon a bitch, but it doesn’t matter. at all.

SADY:: people are AAAAAAAANGRY about that NYT interview, dude! i have seen a LOT of reaction to the effect of “how dare she” and “she came off SO MUCH WORSE than he did” and etc. etc. etc.

AMANDA: that was the greatest interview of all time! i want to make one point about it: after she hammers him over the rape jokes and the racist jokes, she totally razzes him on technical aspects. so any reader who was like, ‘she’s some crazy feminazi’ gets very confused at that point … like, ‘she’s some crazy feminazi who … has a deep understanding of the work of a colorist?’

SADY:: yeah. that was what i loved: the whole “but i am a douche in the name of art” defense was completely shut down by her very specific criticism of the art itself. like, “actually, no, you are not a crazy diamond who must therefore shine on. you’re a hack, and your material stinks.”

AMANDA: also, ‘are you straight?’ that question was just a bonus, i felt like. i can’t really justify exactly why that question was asked.

SADY:: yeah. some people thought it was mean-spirited, in that there’s been speculation about his sexuality before from (shall we say) Less Than Enlightened sources! BUT, it got him talking about the women in his life and why he apparently doesn’t have any. and the “why is that” follow-up just blew my mind.

AMANDA: to me, i thought it showed that she was completely in control of the interviewsomehow, she had just really accurately judged him, and she was going to ask all the questions necessary to reveal him to the world.

SADY:: yeah. it’s the control radiating throughout the interview that i really loved. there was no “let’s play nice” in it. she was not only a character in the interview, she was the chief character. she got him in the room, she sat him down, and she put him in a position to defend himself on specific terms rather than push it off on how Bitches Just Don’t Understand. which: maybe Bitches don’t! But when one of the Bitches is sitting across from you, recording your words for the NYT, you best have a good answer planned, dude.

28 Comments

  1. I don’t exactly have insight to share. But I do have two stories of Stolen Goods wherein I had drunken feminist meltdowns.

    Story One: some boys I worked with were giving me a ride home. These were car boys; all they liked was cars, all they wanted to talk about was cars, and as payment for giving me a ride home, I pretended to care about cylinders for a while.

    At a stop light, another car pulled up next to us. It was two more people from my work, a couple, Sherri and Dan. Sherri was driving, as it was her car, which everybody knew because it had bumper stickers that said things like “DIVA” and a license plate that said “SHRRI” in bright pink.

    She started revving her engine, and when the light went green, we had an old-fashioned incredibly unsafe drag race. She whupped their asses.

    As soon as she left them in the dust, the car was awash in appreciation for Dan’s driving skills. “Oh man, did you see the way he did that?” “Dan’s car is so awesome!” Sherri had completed this awesome drag race with *half her body hanging out the driver side window flipping them the bird*, so they could not have failed to see that it was in fact a girl driving the car, but noooooo, “Dan’s a real race fanatic, man, I never knew!”

    There was some yelling. Perhaps the words “stupid ass douchebag boyfucks” were thrown about.

    Story Two: In which I was dating an asshole in college. My asshole boyfriend’s friends and I were going to have a cookout. Prior to the cookout, most of the boys came over to our house to prepare. While there, I put together my contribution, two chocolate tortes, easy crowd-pleasers. My bf asked me about the tortes, and in front of the group of assembled boys, I described what a torte was and how it was made, and then went back to making it.

    At the end of the cookout, somebody asked, “Who brought those tortes? Damn!” And several of the boys who, only hours before, had been at our house *physically watching me make a torte*, pointed to my boyfriend with exclamations of, “He really knows how to cook, doesn’t he?” And my boyfriend laid back and gave a flippant hand gesture, like a kingly sort, and went on to rattle off some of the info I had given them about tortes that day, which prompted a round of, “Wow, man, you really know your stuff.”

    And then, to top if all off, one of the boys who had *physically watched me make the tortes* leaned over to confide in me that I was awfully lucky to have a boyfriend who was such a good cook, and was willing to be in touch with his feminine side and do some baking, which I guess is because of feminism, y’know?

    Having had half a bottle of tequila, I did some yelling. “WTF DUDE YOU ACTUALLY PHYSICALLY WATCHED ME MAKE THOSE TORTES DID YOUR SEXISM CAUSE YOU TO GO BLIND.” I got a lot of weak responses like, “I know, I was just, well, I mean, they asked who brought them so I guess I–” “You guessed you’d point to my owner? FUCK YOU.”

    I guess what I’m saying is I’m not very good at keeping friends when I’m drunk, but am now with a fellow who tells his co-workers at the company picnic, “You liked those tortes? My girlfriend made them. She is awesome.”

    Friday, September 18, 2009 at 4:26 pm | Permalink
  2. Jezebella wrote:

    Ohmigod, y’all, I am having a college flashback too. There was this guy, Bobby Nagle, who was in all of my English Lit classes because he, too, was an English major. And whenever I raised my hand and said something, within thirty seconds, he would raise his hand and say *the exact same thing*. It drove me completely bananas. Sometimes the prof noticed, sometimes he didn’t, but OH MY GOD I wanted to kill him every time he did it.

    He recently found my blog and explained in great detail why my post about fat being a feminist issue was wrong because he, a man, also struggles with his weight.” He’s STILL an Explainy Dude, twenty years later. Do they ever recover??

    Friday, September 18, 2009 at 6:08 pm | Permalink
  3. Tiphane wrote:

    Sady and Amanda – this is fantastic as usual. I, also, have been subject to the Men Who Explain Things. I’m betting nearly every women has at one time or another. My male in-laws for example. We will be talking – correction – they will be talking. I will say something, some mild comment in response to their mild comment. There will be a slight pause. Then the conversation will continue, around me. As though I’d said something insane or offensive or farted! It drives me batshit!

    Also, Harriet Jacobs, I think I love you.

    Friday, September 18, 2009 at 6:55 pm | Permalink
  4. smadin wrote:

    Ah…the good old Mansplainer phenomenon. (A thing I’m not about to claim I have not, at times in years past, been guilty of! But I like to think now, knowing what it is and how it works, I do better at avoiding it.)

    Friday, September 18, 2009 at 8:43 pm | Permalink
  5. kel d wrote:

    This is so on the money to be painful.

    Of course, as a lady, I have had men explain stuff to me and dismiss my ideas/joke out of hand (only to find them delightful when a man says them).

    As a lady foreigner in Denmark, I have double the opportunity to be lectured.

    If I say “Gee, Denmark is a difficult place to make friends. I sure hope I do not have halitosis…” then Danish-douches start up with the lecturing and explaining.

    It is hard to know if they are doing it because I am a dirty foreigner or because of my obvious feminine charms but it is still douchebaggery of the highest order and I never call them on it.

    Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 1:06 am | Permalink
  6. Canomia wrote:

    Oh this is one of those posts that just puts its finger perfectly on something that’s been bothering me so much.

    Oh I so hate the explainy dudes. Especially when it’s a friend, or a friends boyfriend or a classmate. Or like one time when my art teacher, a guy who really likes the sound of his vioce, thought it would be good to explain to me about Selma Lagerlöv. It was like this. I had made a print with famous lesbians and Selma is a very famous swedish writer, the first woman to get the nobel prize in literature, and I’ve studied her life a bit so I’m pretty sure I know more than him about her. He vas upset that I was calling her gay, saying that just because she never married it didn’t mean she was gay and he just went on and on. The fact that I’ve read her letters to her girlfriends didn’t help at all. Well he’s just a sexist duche but he is better than the other sexist duche art teatcher at that school.

    Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 3:52 pm | Permalink
  7. Ashley wrote:

    Ok, I cracked up reading this thread. I, too, have men in my life who like to explain shit to me: my father, my father-in-law, my grandfather, uncles, ex-boyfriends, friends of friends…

    Basically, I went to an all-women’s college for a good reason.

    I have, however, been completely and utterly shocked by something that’s been happening in my life lately! I’m teaching a college course on Literature and Religion, which has proven to be very popular. During the first week of the term, a retired professor showed up and asked if he could audit. Because he was old and professor-y looking, I had, like, major reservations about it and made him agree to make his presence as little felt as possible in order to not intimidate the students. He has totally complied. He listens and takes notes throughout lecture and discussion and then emails me after class, not to tell me his own thoughts, BUT TO ASK ME WHAT I THINK ABOUT STUFF. It’s amazing. This man has decades and a mountain of professional achievements over me, and he treats me like the expert in my field, and we have awesome exchanges as a result. We should take his DNA and study him.

    Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 5:55 pm | Permalink
  8. cordelia9889 wrote:

    Have you ever heard this song?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6q6HKiF83aI
    I think you might enjoy it.

    Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 9:31 pm | Permalink
  9. Kelly wrote:

    Wow, I can’t get over that Lysol ad actually. The best is that the main selling point in the copy is that it promotes “daintiness” of the vagina. How do I know if my vagina is dainty? I AM NOW INSECURE ::reaches for can of Lysol::

    I have to say that I had a major case of the explainy dudes for hmm…most of my life. So now that I have gotten myself in check and realize that I am more likely to learn from someone than teach them something I am even LESS tolerant of douches trying to explain everything to everyone. I feel I used to see explainy dudes as a challenge and I would try and out explain them. Now I just walk away and avoid them whenever possible.

    Ashley – can you please get your school’s science dept. on top of studying that professor? we need to be able to recreate this phenomenon…

    Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 7:01 am | Permalink
  10. Roxie wrote:

    “douche managers extraordinaire”
    My new band name.

    “it’s people assuming that they have the right to define what matters and what doesn’t, and defining that 100% in their favor at all times, that i think makes a true douche.”
    My next tatoo

    “the constant awareness of what people might think of you if they are huge sexists can actually make you the most incoherent person alive! “ha ha, well, I’M LAUGHING AT YOUR JOKE, but it’s really not funny, and I’M NOT INSANE, but i think that’s fucked up, BUT I WANT TO BE NICE ABOUT IT, but you are being an asshole!” this constant dance between feeling obliged to speak up and trying to do the insane performing-monkey Look You Can’t Stereotype Me Dance.”
    Exactly what went through my head every time I explained how much I did not like “Observe and Report” then some really helpful enlightened dude would tell me how much I just “didn’t get it”

    Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 8:21 pm | Permalink
  11. Rikibeth wrote:

    Kelly, be comforted. The Lysol ad is SNEAKY. When it speaks of killing germ-life, that is CODE, and the readers of the day were to understand that it meant SPERM-life. This was concealed not just because some might find it shocking, but because it was illegal in more than one state (until Griswold v. Connecticut in the 1960s!).

    Implications of feminine stinkiness were there in the same way that some ads now still pretend that you’re going to use that battery-powered pink cylinder on your aching shoulders.

    Which is not to say that I’d want to put Lysol anywhere near my ladyparts! They cringe and shrivel at the thought of it!

    Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 9:02 pm | Permalink
  12. Helen wrote:

    My family: YOU’RE READING TOO MUCH INTO IT!!!! (Well, they’re lovely, not douches really. But in this respect they are douchey. Sometimes.)

    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 3:24 am | Permalink
  13. svente wrote:

    Ashley, I daresay that it’s likely one of the reasons your colleague has “…a mountain of professional achievements…” is becuase he “…treats (you) me like the expert in (your) my field…”

    It’s a great story – not just of feminism, but of professionalsim.

    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 9:46 am | Permalink
  14. snobographer wrote:

    I used to work in IT. Part of the reason I got out of it was I couldn’t take any more explainy dudes acting like my knowing the difference between a patch panel and a hole in the ground was as novel as a piano-playing dalmation.
    I guess the best anecdote (of legions) was when I was working for this ad agency. I went to upgrade some RAM on a Mac in the graphic arts department. These artsy-fartsy Dobie Gillis looking dudes (turtlenecks, tortoise shells, and all – for real) came up and offered to “help.” When I was taking out the screw that held on the computer case, one of the artsy dudes even told me about the rule of ‘lefty-loosy, righty-tighty.’

    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 10:40 am | Permalink
  15. emjaybee wrote:

    You know, my husband is a good person, a feminist overall, and yet he would steal my jokes and funny stories (though not immediately, he’d retell them later without attribution). But when I called him on it, he stopped, and apologized. Which is what makes him a NotADouche.

    The only effective response to actual douchery is bitchery, unless of course your safety/your job is at risk. The first time I made a douche lose his friggin’ mind when I politely called him on his shit was very educational, and I have come to enjoy doing it quite a bit as I get older. Getting older helps too, because you stop giving even the smallest amount of a shit, and because younger dudes are a little bit scared of you.

    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 1:29 pm | Permalink
  16. Helen Jones wrote:

    Sweet baby J, thank you for articulating a major source of tension in my life right now. I’m doing sound for a dinner theatre with singing actors and a band; our volunteer group has welcomed a new person interested in learning the sound system, which is exciting because it’s easier to find actors than techies. So it’s fallen to me to teach him how to work a sound board, hook up the spaghetti tangle of cables, position the speakers for maximum clarity and coverage – all made trickier because we do the show in a different community every single time it’s performed. I don’t know if it’s ageism, sexism, or the fact that he’s a university professor in his day job but he is so. obnoxiously. explainy. I CAN’T TAKE IT. I, the early-thirties woman with a physics degree who has been doing community theatre since grade school, do not need *him* to explain the best moment in the script for a sound effect to occur, nor how to make the “cd” player “play” the “cue”.

    Thank you for a bit of perspective. It’s not just me being petty when I find this shit irritating.

    PS genr’lly great writing, Sady! And use of exclamation points!

    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 4:55 pm | Permalink
  17. Jen Pollock wrote:

    Kelly & Rikibeth: Another thing I didn’t realize when I first saw old Lysol ads (in addition to the germ-life thing) was that it came with instructions to dilute it quite a bit. I mean, I still wouldn’t want Lysol down there, no matter how much water it was in. But it seems less crazy that women in the past used it now that I know it wasn’t straight Lysol.

    Also, I managed to find the longer version of the Rebecca Solnit piece hinted at by the LA Times, which has some interesting details and no advertisements.

    For the actual topic, I’m not even sure what to say about explainy dudes, except that I seem to know several, on various points of the explaininess continuum. And that I wish I could show them Rebecca Solnit’s article, but even if I somehow got them to read it, I expect they’d just want to explain it to me after.

    Monday, September 21, 2009 at 10:56 pm | Permalink
  18. antiplath wrote:

    Working in IT for eight plus years now, I too have run across my share of ‘Splainy-McSplainers at the office. Most recent offense: this guy at work whom I have no interest in felt compelled to text me AT EIGHT A.M this morning about the construction going on near work, and that “I may want to take an alternate route.” Never mind the fact that signs about upcoming construction have been posted for over a week and that the construction was already going on *yesterday.* He’s helping! At EIGHT A.M. Normally I would text “thanks” or some such dribble and inwardly seethe, or ignore it, but he’s getting his ass properly handed to him as soon as I finish this coffee. Thanks, Sady. Another awesome piece.

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 7:22 am | Permalink
  19. Eli Reed wrote:

    Explainy dudes, oh hells yeah.

    I recently got into an argument with a guy on FB, because I had the temerity to express frustration about the sexism in the Changeling, which was based on a true freaking story.

    And he tried to “explain” that the movie was all about parents and loss and hope and shit, and how that whole story could have happened to a man too.

    Except, douchebag, it didn’t. It really happened to a woman, and it happened to that woman because she was a woman and therefore worth less, and easily locked away. And that it was based on a history of institutionalised sexism.

    At which point he lost his shit, laughed at me, told me I was inventing shit to be offending about and called me a misandrist.

    I haven’t interacted with him since.

    I’m sick of being explained to.

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 6:26 pm | Permalink
  20. I don’t get mansplained at as much as many other ladies because I have always had a tendency to explain *first*. Or to interrupt and amplify the mansplainer’s mansplanation. Being thought of as a bitch never seemed to have a real downside for me, I guess.

    My husband was socialized to be very polite, and he gets mansplained at, too.

    Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 9:15 am | Permalink
  21. Samantha b. wrote:

    Doctor Science, I have a tendency to be very impatient with that stuff, too- probably because I’m a generally impatient person- so I can say from experience that an insufficiently respectful response nearly always generates an angry reaction. I can live with that, but I have paid a price for it in contexts like grad school and work. My experience suggests to me that it absolutely does have a downside, and I think you are unfairly intimating that if woman spoke up about mansplaining, it would be a non-issue. I don’t think that’s true for every context, and I think you’re heading into blame the victim territory. Women have evry right to assess the pragmatics of a situation, even if I kind of suck at that myself.

    Sunday, September 27, 2009 at 12:10 pm | Permalink
  22. napthia9 wrote:

    What I think bothers me most about the whole “Hey-Didn’t-I-Just-Say-That” phenomena is that most days, I don’t even notice it’s happening to me because I’m too damn happy that someone agrees with me and finally finally everyone will listen.

    Some days understanding basic feminist principles makes me feel like I’m reading Shakespeare when everyone else is reading Dan Brown.

    Monday, September 28, 2009 at 2:35 pm | Permalink
  23. kristinc wrote:

    OMG. Harriet’s description of dudes forgetting/ignoring the ACTUAL PHYSICAL EVIDENCE when it conflicts with their sexism? Gives me a breath of hope that I’m not insane.

    A couple months ago I contracted with a woodworker to build a special box for me. I wanted the box to store certain specific things and as such I had a definite idea of the layout and design I wanted. I came to Woodworker Dude with sketches, numbers and concrete instructions on how I wanted the box to be built. What I am trying to say is, I had thought it out very carefully and knew exactly what I was asking for.

    At every stage of the building process, Woodworker Dude would contact me with an “issue”: the compartments I specified were different heights. Or there was leftover space if he used the numbers I gave him. Or whatever. And he would give me his idea for how to solve this “issue”.

    And EVERY GODDAMN TIME his “solution” for it would be the SAME PLANS I HAD GIVEN HIM IN MULTIPLE FORMS. The same exact plans that, had he actually processed them into his brain, would have made it clear why there was a height difference between compartments or leftover floor space or whatever.

    It was all laid out in the instructions I gave him but somehow, he was incapable of processing that as intelligible information. I know he was not incapable of reading plans, because he’s an accomplished woodworker. And I don’t think he was ever deliberately blowing me off because he was a really sweet old boy, excruciatingly polite by the standards of his type.

    I honest to God think that sexism had crippled his brain to the extent that he could not directly interface with the products of a ladybrain, without having to patch together communications by “solving the problem” and “explaining” first.

    Monday, September 28, 2009 at 8:48 pm | Permalink
  24. Splainy wrote:

    Wow. So I’d never heard of “mansplainers” before this piece was linked to by a friend on facebook, but the comments alone have been very educational. I’ve learned 2 things for certain from this comment thread:

    (a) I’m guilty. Way guilty.

    (2) oof. I’m sorry.

    I’ve gotten better at apologizing for it when I’m called out, but the impulse is still strong. I think it’s probably because my dad always had all the answers , too.

    Thanks for the education, ladies. I’ll be more vigilant, and pass the word on to the rest of my ‘splainy brethren. It’s the least I can do to atone. G’day.

    Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 10:49 am | Permalink
  25. Mel wrote:

    I knew a guy who enjoyed knowing things – or more correctly, enjoyed knowing more than other people – who was explaining to me the ins and outs of a website he was making. And he mentioned that he liked using Firefox as an internet browser because he could use it to view the code of other websites, which of course is a handy way of learning about how other websites are made. And I, in a moment of great miscalculation, said “Oh, Control-U?”, which is the keyboard shortcut that brings up a page’s code. And he just didn’t know how to react to my revelation of the fact that I, too, posessed the knowledge and ability to weild Excalibur. All he could do was make a wounded chortling sound that was so pathetic it compelled me to apologise. I had obviously wounded his manhood by not staying in my assigned “Oh my, you’re so smart, I’d never know how to do anything that you do” place. Not long after that he got a girlfriend, and that was a great excuse for me to drop out of the scene.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 6:29 am | Permalink
  26. Aja wrote:

    Gah. On the subject of explaining things: I used to have a roommate who pronounced her name “Sahn-ya,” spelled Sonja. After meeting her, one of my guy friends kept pronouncing her name wrong: Sown-ya.

    When I tried to correct him, and explain to him that that’s not how she said her name, I was treated to an ongoing argument (that lasted until I moved away) that my male friend wasn’t pronouncing her name wrong: oh, no. She was pronouncing her name wrong. Because she should know that the original Scandinavian pronunciation was the way he said it. Or something. IDK. The more I tried to insist that she had a right to a) say her name however the hell she pleased and b) expect that people would respect that pronunciation and try to get it right, the more *he* argued that he was right and I was wrong. And this went on for a couple of years until I finally gave up.

    UGH.

    Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink
  27. This makes me remember something my mom pretty much always said…
    Obviously its totally inappropriate at this time…

    Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 1:13 am | Permalink
  28. Head Bitch in Charge wrote:

    Oh my goodness! I had a co-worker just like this! I mean, I have experienced mansplaining a whole bunch in my life, but your article just screams this particular dude’s name. Even though we were both at the same level, holding the same position in our department, he still took it upon himself to tell me how to do my job. This was especially frustrating since it was widely known, and frequently expressed, that I did my job infinitely better than him! Our position was the highest one, so we were always allowed to pick up shifts of subordinate positions. Even when I was his superior, he still tried to pull this crap! One specifically irritating time, when he was the boss for the night’s shift, myself and another male co-worker who held our same position were working a subordinate shift. He wanted a second opinion on something, so instead of asking me, who was in the same room a foot away from him, he called out to another room to ask my male co-worker for help! I was just as capable of offering advice, but no! He went out of his way, yelling over me, to ask the opinion of a man! Fortunately, everyone who was present also found this absurd. One of my male subordinates even told me after shift how disrespected he felt on my behalf. After that night, any time he so much as attempted any form of mansplaining douchebaggery I swiftly told him to shut his mouth and accept that a woman could just maybe possibly be more competent than him.

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

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