Saturday, 13 May 2017

Mansplaining Defined: A Short Guide for Feminists

(This article also appeared here in Areo Magazine and a shorter version here in the

Over the past decade or so the term 'mansplaining' has entered  our everyday vernacular. I don't think it is conducive to constructive social and political discourse to coin a term using either gender as a negative prefix. However, as a free speech advocate I believe that people should be able to use whatever words they want to describe social phenomena as they see it and I can use whatever language I like to counter arguments with which I disagree.

Although I don't like the term 'mansplaining' I do have some sympathy for it's origins.  Now, whilst I don't agree with feminists that western civilisation remains a patriarchy, this doesn't negate the fact that some men are chauvinists and view women as inferior beings. The term 'mansplaining' was originally coined to describe when a sexist male speaks to a woman in a condescending and patronising tone on the assumption that she probably doesn't understand what the man is saying to her. This is just bad manners and should be called out for what it is by every person who believes in treating other people respectfully. Unfortunately, the term 'mansplaining' is no longer used solely for the kind of aforementioned scenario, but is now deployed by many feminists anytime a man disagrees with their opinions.  Allow me to illustrate this point by distilling the essence of many conversations, both in person and on social media, that I have had with many feminists.

Me: "I don't believe there is a gender pay gap in western societies that is sustained by the existence of a patriarchy that  seeks to keep women in an inferior economic position. Western countries have equal pay legislation.  There is ample research that shows the way the gender pay gap is constructed doesn't allow for the fact that most women when they have children choose and want to stay at home with their children and either take a complete break from work for a few years, or only work part time. Therefore, the discrepancy between what men and women earn on average can mostly be explained by women making certain choices about the types of careers they choose and how they wish to balance this with having a family. Besides,  the very notion that there is a systemic bias that favours men over women in terms of  pay is completely undermined by the fact that women are now earning more than men in their twenties ."

Feminist: "I don't need to be 'mansplained' by a straight white male. The gender pay gap is real and the fact that you refuse to acknowledge it just proves how much of a sexist you are. Instead of speaking from your position of privilege in society you should listen and learn when someone from a less privileged group is trying to explain to you how the white male patriarchy is oppressing them."

Me: "Why are you dismissing what I am saying merely on the basis of my gender and skin colour? I would be very happy to read any research you have that shows western societies have policies in place that insist women are to be paid less than men for the same job. This is illegal in the public sector or in any advertised job where the salary is stated prior to interview."

You get the gist. Instead of dealing with an opposing argument by putting forth a rebuttal, many on the post modernist left /social justice spectrum, which includes most modern feminists, will first and foremost attack you and try and dismiss your right to even have an opinion because of your skin colour, gender and sexual orientation, but only if you are a straight white male. In the world view of these people straight white males are an inferior type of human who should keep their mouths shut and know their place. How is this any different to the bigoted mindset of white supremacists who believe that black and brown skinned people are less deserving of rights and respect as human beings?

I recently heard a stand up comedian use the phrase 'straight white male' as a pejorative. He and many like him feel completely free to express their sneering contempt for one group of people based on their skin colour, gender and sexual orientation. Most baffling of all he is a white male himself. Do those social justice warriors and feminists not see the irony in claiming to oppose racism and sexism whilst harbouring contempt for one group of people based on their gender, sexuality and skin complexion?  Personally, I despise racism or sexism of any kind directed at anyone and I will always challenge and resist it no matter who it is directed towards.

However, it is not just straight white males who are viewed with suspicion and even contempt by many feminists and social justice warriors. There are many women too, including some self-identified feminists such as Christina Hoff Sommers and Camille Paglia who are viewed with derision by many of the feminist sisterhood because they don't subscribe to the post modernist orthodoxy of third wave feminism. There are also plenty of young women such as the popular Youtuber,ShoeonHead, who do not identify as feminists and are highly critical of the claims third wave feminism makes. These young non-feminist women, as well as the aforementioned feminist dissenters and others like them, are all dismissed as having 'internalised misogyny'. Meanwhile, Sharia law supporter Linda Sarsour who is at the forefront of the feminist movement in the USA is never accused of having 'internalised misogyny', despite supporting a brutal religious legal system that treats women as second class citizens. This alliance between some feminists and Islamist defenders like Linda Sarsour exemplifies the internalised hypocrisy within feminism and the wider social justice movement.

Perhaps one day third wave feminists and social justice warriors might become capable of grasping the fact that many of their opponents or even internal dissenters, whatever their gender, skin colour and sexual orientation are also able to have strongly held opinions that are not motivated by sexism, racism, homophobia or 'internalised misogyny'.

"There is a tendency on the left, to think if someone in anyway disagrees with the left it is for the lowest possible reason and if you found the lowest possible motive it is for the right one. There's this whole culture of  no one would leave us or quarrel with us if they weren't a sell out. It's actually a very sick mentality and very widespread."  Christopher Hitchens. 


  1. Writing from Italy... To put things simply, I would certainly want my wife to get a well-paid job away from men I don't like :-) In an individualistic society, "male solidarity" is generally not a strong force.

    However, quite probably an important university professor of the kind that also has a lot of private practices (medicine, engineering, etc) would invest more on the success of his son, while hoping his daughter would marry the son of somebody like himself.

    It may be a moment of transition.