For those who do not know, “mansplaining” is when a man acts in a condescending and bigoted way towards a female. Often it is done by a man telling a woman how she should feel on women’s issues. I do not have sympathy for men who are correctly labelled as being condescending and bigoted towards women.
But men talking down to women is not the only example of people of privilege talking town to people who lack privilege. There are many other examples. Like white people being condescending and speaking from positions of authority on minority issues. Like straight people doing that on LGBT issues. Like CIS gendered people doing that on trans folk issues. Mansplaining doesn’t cover those things yet we manage to discuss them without being offensive to privileged folks who are not being condescending or telling underprivileged people how they should feel on their issues.
So here is the ultimate problem with the word. It is a lazy crutch and it just sounds dumb. It is also using sexism to combat sexism. (See, explaining something is not bad but by adding a gender to the word it turns the word into a negative). And since it doesn’t adequately cover all examples of privileged folks speaking down to underprivileged folks, can’t we just use real words to criticize bad behavior and avoid describing bad behavior by assigning it a gender?
———– Edited to add this
When I was learning all about how to be a better feminist I would listen to women. One of the things that I heard repeatedly is that “gendering” a term to make it a negative was sexist and wrong. That, I think, is my ultimate problem with the word. It is often used by feminists but yet goes against feminist principals.
There is no one right way to be a feminist. But there are plenty of wrong ways. And to me, use of this word is one of the wrong ways.