Not every man participates in “mansplaining”

There are a lot of men who condescend to women because they’re sexist and don’t have much respect for what women say or think. Sexism is very much alive and well in the 21st Century. But not every instance of condescension and disrespect is caused by sexism. Not every man being condescending is “mansplaining.” Sometimes, men are condescending to women because they’re just plain being condescending.

Many arrogant pricks don’t improve once they start talking to men.

If a man calls attention to a woman’s gender in the course of his criticism, yeah, he’s probably mansplaining. There’s almost no reason to bring attention to a person’s gender when debating them. Use of “honey” or “sweety” are probably also good indicators of an argument rooted in sexism.

Denby Weller, a female journalist and digital media professor, has called for feminists to stop using the word. “There’s a problem with the word mansplaining. It’s sexist.”

In an essay that is a companion piece to her video, Weller argues that women who feel mansplained to should stick with logic and good arguing skills.

Feminists, this is our hour. These are the dark days. The world needs us, and it needs us to be smart, effective and bold. What it doesn’t need is for us to be allured by our cleverness into abandoning the rules of good argument. And this is why I’m calling for a moratorium on the word ‘mansplain’ and its cousins, ‘manterrupt’ and ‘bropropriate.’”

If you automatically assign sexism as motive, just because a man is acting condescending, in actuality, you are committing a sexist act. You’ve automatically judged a man as sexist when he might just be an asshole. The key to knowing the difference is how they speak to other men. Are they also condescending and dismissive to their own gender? If so, “mansplaining” might not be the real problem.

In March of this year, British Prime Minister Theresa May accused Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, of mansplaining. May planned to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia right before International Women’s Day.

According to the New York Times, “Mr. Corbyn began by saying that International Women’s Day, observed on Thursday, was ‘a chance to both celebrate how far we have come on equality for women, but also to reflect on how far we have to go.’ He then detailed Saudi human rights abuses, including those against women. ‘Will she also call on the crown prince to halt the shocking abuse of human rights in Saudi Arabia?’”

“Can I thank the right honorable gentleman for telling me that it’s International Women’s Day tomorrow? I think that’s what’s called mansplaining,” said May, who claimed she was planning on bringing up human rights concerns during the meeting. It’s certainly plausible that Corbyn brought up International Women’s Day as a way to make his point, not an act of mansplaining.

It’s even less desirable for female politicians to use the word mansplaining because politics is one of the prime public examples of where many male politicians will stop at nothing to trash, belittle, embarrass, and generally disrespect their fellow male politicians.

A great example of this is Donald Trump. It’s pretty clear Trump is a sexist. But, Trump speaks in a disrespectful tone to men and women alike. Sometimes, Trump’s boorish behavior comes from a place of sexism. But, sometimes it comes from a place of just plain boorishness. It’s important to know the difference.

And, sometimes, condescension isn’t condescension at all. Sometimes, we need to be highly critical of each other. Sometimes, men need to be critical of women in ways that might feel like condescension. And vice versa. If we label every male speaking out as “mansplaining,” some of what needs to be said might never be uttered out of fear of being labeled. That’s no good for either gender.