A twist on mansplaining

The other day my dad and I were having a ‘conversation’ in the car. This happens a lot. I think, to most people (including my father) these conversations could also be called arguments. I would say they are debates.

Anyhow, I can’t help it – my father has a very special kind of logic. Often there is sound reasoning buried inside the kernel of the idea, but he begins his broad concept and not with clear reasoning. Maybe a car on the highway reminds him of back when he used to drive a Chevrolet 76 with his buddies, which would tear up the street with clouds of popping black exhaust.

But when he’s talking about that car, he’s actually talking about climate change, and how that one car company had that emissions scandal, and how many other eco cars are just a lot of fluff and nonsense, and how e-cars have batteries that will never break down.

And somewhere in between this stream of backward consciousness, he’ll make a ridiculous statement that totally gets my goat. Something like ‘only intelligent turnips should drive cars!” which makes no sense – but probably, in some way, it really does. I just need to suss out the train of thought, if I had the patience to do so . . .

But of course, instead, I lose it and argue against intelligent turnips driving cars. Because he gets me every time – and it’s really quite good fun.

(By the way, He never said turnips should drive cars. This is just a fictional example of how these things get started.)

Anyhow, the other day I mention that the Clinton/Trump debate was a perfect example of mansplaining.

‘Do you mean man spreading?” he asks me.

“Man spread!? Man Spread?!”

“Man spread,” he says.

“It’s not man spread,” I reply.

“So what is man spread?” he asks.

“It’s when a man sits with his legs wide apart, and everyone can see his balls pressed against his pants.”

And we laugh like crazy.

“So what is mansplaining?”

“Mansplaining is when a man talks over a women, cutting her off, explaining what she really means, or giving background on the subject in which she’s already an expert.”

We agree that the term isn’t really fair. As in, not every man does this and labeling it so isn’t fair. Really, it’s being damn overbearing, is what it is. Unfortunately, I do believe (based on my experiences) that in many, many, many cases, when it happens, it has often been a dude. A man. A boy. And yeah, it happens a lot.

But you know what, women need to keep their knees together all the time, and men are allowed to let it all hang out without one touch of shame – in fact, there’s almost this machismo associated to man spread. More than once a male has noted that I sometimes sit with my legs too far apart. Mmmhmm. Which is, in a sense, putting me in my place.

Maybe, metaphorically speaking man spread and mansplain aren’t too far apart.

So I’ll give this one to my Dad in our never-ending debates. In this case, you have made a great deal of sense.

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2 thoughts on “A twist on mansplaining

  1. Ah, to have to argue the finer points of leftist discourse with one’s parents, rather than fight to have the barest acknowledgement of economic or political realities beyond their own personal needs in the next 10 minutes. They’re doing OK from that perspective 🙂

    That said, is “mansplaining” really an unfair term? I keep running across this argument, even in casual discussion. It’s certainly gendered, and a bit snide, but we don’t disqualify lots of things on those criteria. It describes a real phenomenon, and doesn’t target anyone who generally has a rough time of things on other fronts (men, writ large) specifically because of the identifier, right? As a man who hasn’t been terribly comfortable throughout his life with how men are expected to assert themselves, I love it.

    • I love that you love it 🙂 And I’ll admit that I feel good pegging that behaviour to a term – manspalining is quite bang on in its description, and satisfying to call out. (Ever since I realized the phenomenon, I have started to push back when cut off – i.e. naming something does have power). But I still think twice about it. For instance, growing up being told I ‘throw like a girl” is just one example where I was admittedly terrible (except with footballs and Frisbee!), but still really resented the gender labeling.

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