Jan 29 2010

There are molecules in the brain called “neurotransmitters”

Because of my award-nominated, it-is-highly-unlikely-that-you-are-qualified-to-post-here moderation policy — “Old Iron-Fist” is what they call me down at Spinster HQ — readers of I Blame the Patriarchy aren’t always exposed to mansplaining at standard Internet concentrations. I sometimes wonder if this is really all to the good, since mansplaining can be so goddam hilarious, and who doesn’t enjoy a hearty guffaw after a hard day of gossiping or neurosurgery or trench-digging or whatever it is that you do all day?

But then I come to my senses.

Mansplaining — you know mansplaining, right? It’s that loud, annoying, repetitive alarm call that men emit whenever they perceive a lower-status person challenging their authority — isn’t really so goddam hilarious in and of itself. This is because it is a hallmark of domination culture, because it is comprised primarily of meaningless noise (whether taken in or out of context), and because it is obfuscatory, oppressive, denigrating, sexist, and rude. It can only achieve comic status when openly mocked. Preferably by an angry mob.

My thoughts turned briefly to mansplanation mockery this morning when I found myself deleting a something of a dilly. The author in question was, as is typical, correcting me on this point and that, explaining that my views (but not his) are “sexist,” yadda yadda, in a tone that suggested so deep a reverence for his own intellect that he’d expect the solar system to explode if he failed to execute this very important takedown on my blog. His brilliant denouement? The assertion that if I “honestly” disagree with him — apparently this contingency should be all but impossible — then “what [I] practice isn’t feminism.”

Aww yiah. It’s my very favorite species of mansplaining, the species where some dim bulb with a feeble and unsophisticated grasp of the principles — instead of kissing my ass and begging me brokenly for a few words of enlightenment that might ultimately prevent him from going through life known to the ladies as Chad, the Purulent Lump of Gonorrhea — purports to know — better than the actual feminist — what feminism is or isn’t.

How appropriate that veteran blamer Ron Sullivan should have chosen this point to alert me to an excellent mansplaining-mockery post at Zuska’s entitled “You May Be A Mansplainer If …”. This post is the greatest thing ever published on either this Internet or that one. Zuska invites readers to give examples of, and to ridicule, mansplaining. It’s the angry mob of which I spoke so yearningly just a moment ago! As of this writing there are over 200 comments. Like this one by Zuskateer mightydoll, a classic in the Men Literally Cannot Hear Women Speaking Division.

my ex used to do this:

ex: something’s wrong with my computer.

me: Oh, looks like there’s a phrenicle in the stubert zone

ex: something’s wrong with my computer

me: Why not check the stubert zone for phrenicles?

ex: something’s wrong with my computer – – I’ll ask Dick at work about it.


ex: Hey, I spoke to Dick at work about my computer. Turns out, (begins speaking really slowly) there are these things called phrenicles which SPEAK … TO… the molydimes. The molydimes can reside in the jiminy zone, or they can reside in the stubert zone, but WHEN they reside in the stubert zone, sometimes there’s a problem with them communicating with the loovarths, so it’s best to keep phrenicles out of the stubert zone. All I have to do is move these phrenicles back to the jiminy zone and it’s solved. Isn’t Dick at work a computer god?

me: …

Or this, from SKM:

You might be a mansplainer if you begin a sentence addressed to a woman whom you know holds a degree in neuroscience with “there are molecules in the brain called neurotransmitters”.

This You May Be A Mansplainer post is not without its bittersweet moments. For instance, there is the introduction into English of the exquisite and apparently Brazilian phrase “rule crapper” ( as in “There, he did it again, he just crapped a rule”), but tragically, the author of this revelatory comment simultaneously mansplains that mansplaining “is not necessarily sexist” because men crap rules at other men all the time.

Even if it happens to dudes, it can still be sexist, yo.

Poop, I just crapped a rule!


In fact, quite the buttload of Zuska’s mansplaining commenters are apparently authoritative experts on mansplaining. This is surprising and kind of meta, since it is a well-known fact that men who claim to know what the fuck mansplaining is cannot resist mansplaining that it doesn’t, at least for them, exist. More than a few of them mansplain that theirs is a truly lofty and nuanced apprehension of mansplaining, which is why when they do it they aren’t really doing it, so it isn’t the same as when actual mansplainers mansplain.

Then the outraged feminist shows up with the news that this awful manhating post has — get ready for a shock – made feminism the laughingstock of the whole internet. Oh no.

“Stop helping” is this outraged feminist’s refrain. Women should steer clear of critical analyses of male privilege because it makes us unpopular with the Chads of the world.

This is all outrageous and very maddening!

God, the whole thing is just swell.


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  1. B. Dagger Lee

    Interesting. Miss Patsy and I call Zuskateer mightydoll’s example “Some Guy Syndrome.”

    Brother (we both have one, and it doesn’t matter which it is): Some guy told me the first time you jump a turnstile, the cop lets you off.
    Me or Miss P: That sounds unlikely, given how desperately the City is trying to raise cash.
    Bro: That guy was so wrong! I got a ticket, can you believe it?
    Me or Miss P: I’m flabbergasted.

    Bro: Some guy in the park told me 9-11 was an inside job! And that all of the Muslims and Jews left the buildings before the explosions!
    Miss P: I won’t be discussing this with you.

    Bro: Some guy told me that Benjamin Franklin was the 12th child in his family, and if abortion had been legal, we wouldn’t have had Benjamin Franklin!

  2. Lady K

    Who gets to make the rules on what feminism “is” and “isn’t,” anyway? I consulted my Official Feminist Handbook, but the author, publisher and other valuable copyright information was conspicuously absent. What gives?

    Who am I supposed to *blame* for all this misinformation?

    Oh, wait!

  3. yttik

    Mansplaining can be really dangerous. Many times I’ve heard women say, “Honey, we can’t afford this house,” and honey says,
    “Listen, this is what our lender does for a living, if he says we can afford it, we can afford it. Let’s remember he’s the professional here.”

    There you have it. Mansplaining is a big part of the reason so many people are now facing foreclosure.

  4. Rachel

    An excellent example of mansplaining from the LA Times: http://articles.latimes.com/2008/apr/13/opinion/op-solnit13

  5. yttik

    Oh, the funniest comment on that whole thread, “ZOMG I have broken feminism.” Ha! Don’t you hate it when that happens?

  6. Mortisha

    At work I’ve learnt to use these phrases when i get cranky about mansplainers

    *very loudly*

    “he/she wants someone with a penis to tell them what i just told them – could you get someone with a penis please”


    “Wow Chad you are so smart………God i wish i thought of that ……..hehe hoho har har HAW snort”

    usually straightens them out for next time.

    I love the cranky old bitch tag :)

  7. Shelly

    Every single goddamned discussion of this phenomenon that I’ve encountered has included the apparently ubiquitous mansplaining mansplainer who’s gonna set all us ladypersons straight on the subject of mansplaining, and how it’s not really a man-on-woman verbal assault, because men do it to each other, and alsotoo there was that one time when a woman ‘splained something to him.

  8. Erin Graham

    We all know that the first described version of mansplaining also happens in meetings. A woman has a brilliant idea. The women look at each other with excitement. The men burp and blink. Some time later, a man in the meeting says exactly what the woman had said. The men jump up and give each other bum pats. Then they go implement the plan. But the wrong way,without the women, and then blame the women when it doesn’t work.
    This is how the women’s liberation movement began. What will it take for us to gain some traction again?
    Thanks, Spinster Aunt, for saying the true things in the funny ways. Love to blame the patriarchy….

  9. Sarah

    To combat the rampantly uncontrolled mansplaining that goes on at my workplace, I have begun being incredibly, loudly, unapologetically rude in meetings, much to the detriment of my career. It’s all part of my strategic plan to one day be head PR-hack of a radical feminist, equine-rescuing hippie commune.

  10. slythwolf

    My favorite part is when they try to turn it around on us all “Well by telling me what mansplaining is, you’re mansplaining at me, WHAT NOW.”

  11. Gorgoneion

    Many moons ago, there was a young man in my social circle who was born to be King of the Mansplainers. I made a wager with one of my friends that I could lead him into a conversation where he’d contradict me about what menstrual cramps felt like. I won, of course.

  12. slythwolf

    Should not have hit Blame so soon. Adding: it’s just so clear that they believe The Feminists have created a completely nonsensical word with no definition and apply it with absolutely no justification to everything a man says.

    Meanwhile, my dad likes to mansplain about job hunting. Because, you know, if you don’t apply for jobs, you can’t get a job. And you have to get out there and pound that pavement. And you have to put yourself out there. And you have to try or you will never get anywhere! And you have to understand, he knows how hard it is to get a job as a twenty-something woman with no credentials and no work history for the past three years and two different disabilities, but if you just keep trying, something will happen! It’s not that he doesn’t already think you’re trying! No, no! He just doesn’t see you getting anywhere and he gets so worried about it because he only wants to see you happy and he really just wants to help. So here is a huge spewing mess of unsolicited advice, just for you! Because, don’t forget, you have to apply to jobs. And put yourself out there.

  13. slythwolf

    Oh and, incidentally, why don’t I call him more?

  14. Lauren O

    Slythwolf, do you suppose our fathers took the same mansplanation class? Or do they just get together on a regular basis to trade tips?

  15. Jezebella

    I bet neither of your fathers has had to actually hunt for a job in this, the 21st century. Just a guess.

  16. rowmyboat

    There were long, amusing threads on the ‘splaining at Shakesville and Shapely Prose, too, if anyone needs more lols.

    Here’s my own favorite instance of receiving mansplaining, as I wrote it in the Shakesville thread, for your edification:

    So, I dated this fellow K for about 2 years. One morning, around 1.5 years in, we were having breakfast in a dive-y diner near his apartment. There as a basket of little single-serving jam and jelly containers on the table. K says to me as we’re buttering and jellying up our toast, “I don’t like commercially-produced jam, because it has so much sugar in it. Home-made jam has almost no sugar in it.” (He’s a hippy-dippy fellow from a hippy-dippy part of the world.)

    My jaw about fell into my pancakes.

    See, I make jam every summer. And he knew that. He’d eaten jam I’d made before. I knew that he’d never made jam. I say, “WTF are you talking about? Home-made jam is like half sugar. If you don’t put a whole lot of sugar in it, it won’t be jam, it’ll just be cooked squished berries.” And he couldn’t accept that he was completely and utterly wrong about jam, so he kept on with, “No, home-made jam has so little sugar, much better than any jam from the store,” et cetera, et cetera. And I am all, “Look, I have a cookbook that says when you make jam it’s 45-55% sugar, I can show it to you.” And he’s just on with the, “But home-made jam has just so little sugar…”

  17. alicepaul

    The worst is when the mansplainer is an authority figure like a boss or professor so extra deference is in order. I had one professor try to tell the class what it was like to be a single mother, because he had performed sociological studies of single mothers! So he knew! Another professor told me that feminism is insulting to women, because his mother enjoyed being a housewife. This was during my freshman year, and I made sure to wait until I got home to start crying from frustration.

  18. Pinko Punko

    I note the hilarious and appropriate use of ellipses in the quote, where I presume the steam from ears emoticon would go, if that weren’t even more on the IBTP aesthetic death list. Do they have an ear-steaming Smiley? They should.

  19. Jodie

    I knew I’d finally found the right job when the boss-to-be told me he wasn’t sure exactly what it was I’d be doing, but since I’d done it for the past 15 years at some other place, he was fine with me doing whatever it was I did. I’ve been there for two years and he’s still not really sure what I do. At every other job where I’ve done this, the boss (just as unsure about what I do as this boss) has still tried to explain to me how to do what I do even though they don’t really know.

  20. slythwolf

    Jez, my dad did some job-hunting post-“retirement” in ’02, but he was doing it as a privileged white man with a college degree and 27 years of work experience for the state government, so it was a little different for him.

  21. Robin

    Jodie, so help me, I now have intense desire to ask you what you do. Not to be snarky or anything, I’m just consumed with curiosity.

  22. Comrade PhysioProf

    That post attracted some serious comedy fucking gold comments. This one is particularly LOLworthy:

    Congratulations, Zuska. You’ve managed to create a perfect example that people can point to and say, “See? Feminism really is all about dismissing the man’s point of view because he’s a man, and them blaming him for being sexist even though he wasn’t the one who brought sex into it.”

    Thanks a lot, but if it’s all the same to you, I’d like to ask that you stop helping now.

  23. Carolyn

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s devoted a good portion of the entire past couple of days to following the mansplaining discussions. It’s so incredibly helpful not to have to describe to someone in detail my interaction with a man at a party, and why I found it so amusing/annoying, and now instead be able to say ‘go read this–it was like that’.

  24. AileenWuornos

    Now my education on the use of the word “mansplaining” is complete.

  25. parallel

    My favourite comment in those threads was this clueless whiny specimen:

    “This blog’s so sexist. As a Feminist XY, I feel like you’re shitting on us for being XY, and not sufficiently Feminist because I feel hurt at being shat on. As far as somehow feeling the pain that XX’s feel when being belittled, condescended to, etc, well, no shit. That’s why I’m a Feminist in the first place. Sexist XY’s don’t give a crap, BTW. The only people upset by this thread will be people who care. Go ahead and condescend and trivialize and rationalize my emotional responses away now. Oh right, I’m XY. I’m not allowed to have my emotions validated. I forgot.”

    Just such a perfect example really.

  26. parallel

    Also to second or third the recomendation for the Rebecca Solnit article:

    “Most women fight wars on two fronts, one for whatever the putative topic is and one simply for the right to speak, to have ideas, to be acknowledged to be in possession of facts and truths, to have value, to be a human being.”

    h ttp://articles.latimes.com/2008/apr/13/opinion/op-solnit13

  27. allhellsloose

    Arrabella Weir did this through a character called Girl who boys can’t hear in the Fastshow (BBC 90s programme). Unfortunately her character -girl who boys can’t hear – isn’t listed in the wiki entry of the Fastshow. ah the irony.

  28. Jill

    Check out some Men Literally Cannot Hear You Speak action, right here in this thread: PhysioProf, above, quotes the exact same outraged feminist I quoted in the original post, and uses this quotation to make a less nuanced version of the joke I made (but with more profanity), as though I had never mentioned the outraged feminist at all!

  29. Comrade PhysioProf

    Sorry about that. My poor reading comprehension allowed me to miss that the snippet you quoted was from the same comment I quoted.

  30. yttik

    Sometimes mansplaining can be amusing, if you grab a hard hat and duck. Some of my favorites are, “I know what I’m doing,” “I know how to drive,” and “I’ve worked with electricity my whole life.” In these cases, it’s very important not to interrupt the mansplaining with silly drival like, “shouldn’t we flip the breaker first?” Also important, do not ask if the mainsplainer will be conscious enough to properly mansplain CPR to you.

  31. Astraia

    Slythwolf, my dad does the exact same thing with regard to seeking employment. That doesn’t irritate me so much as his need to mansplain economics to me every time I criticize hyperconsumerist culture.

    ‘But don’t you *realize* that if everyone wasn’t constantly buying useless junk they don’t actually need then the people who make and/or sell said junk wouldn’t earn a living?!’

    That’s yet another problem with the system, not proof that everything is in fact working as it should be.

    I too have been appreciating (I almost said ‘enjoying,’ but it’s not quite that!) the discussions on mansplanation across the feminist blogosphere of late.

  32. Jill

    You kill me, CPP!

  33. humanbein

    This is one bullet no man can dodge, no matter how feminist friendly he thinks he may be! Ha! I wish I had a nickel for every time I did this same thing! How many times have I done it to you, Jill? And will you ever forgive me?


    I have just finished reading all the MANSPLAINING threads (Zuska, here, Shakesville, LA times) and (don’t ask me why, I mean, why am I bothering?) I have been trying to understand or imagine the MINDSET of a MANSPLAINER. I mean, why would anyone act this way (esp the WORST KIND, IMO, which is “Can Only Be Heard If A Man Says It”)

    And the only answer is, the Splainer must believe that the Splainee is GROSSLY and OBVIOUSLY inferior. Like, someone has let 7 year old children into the boardroom, and they get to vote. Like the Splainees have, I dunno, HALF the normal intelligence, but for SOME reason, you have to pretend they are your equals.

    ANd now I finally understand, I mean KINDA, how Sexist Men think of US, and probably even Feminist Men have tattered remnants of this worldview clinging to the insides of their skulls.


  35. kristyn

    ”the only answer is, the Splainer must believe that the Splainee is GROSSLY and OBVIOUSLY inferior. Like, someone has let 7 year old children into the boardroom, and they get to vote. Like the Splainees have, I dunno, HALF the normal intelligence, but for SOME reason, you have to pretend they are your equals.”

    This entire thread could not have come at a better time, and especially this quote.

    Last night at a poetry reading, some dood spent his valuable time explaining ”irony” and ”cynicism” to me, then asking genuinely if I felt I was deluded. Because it’s not like I’m a professional poet, while he’s just a 30something douche who thinks twiddling on a guitar means he’s an indie rocker.
    Until right now, reading this blog entry, I’d spent today wondering why I’m suddenly so nervous about going to meet with a potential publisher tonight.

  36. DaisyDeadhead

    I sell health supplements of various kinds, and at least once a day, some man starts some long-ass monologue regarding what my supplements are for and what they can do and so on. Is he of the opinion that a middle-aged woman who leads him to a supplement’s location on a shelf must have just wandered in off the street or what? What does he think *I’m* doing there? (Do I look like Vanna White, just pointing to the letters?) Sometimes, this happens even after he has already mispronounced the name of the supplement in question, or confused Carnitine with Creatine. They don’t miss a beat. They often sound very urgent, like they have to explain my own job to me before I kill somebody with the wrong dosage of CoQ-10.

    I’m always thoroughly amazed by it.

  37. Elle

    Mansplanation seems to occur particularly frequently whenever the issue under discussion related to gender equality.

    As one of those dastardly femocrats buttressing the status quo, rather than fermenting revolution, I never cease to be amazed by the men who think that their pulled-from-their-butts opinions are equivalent to the evidence.

    I’ve been told, straightfaced, that British law provides for women to stay home sick when they have their period. That no pay gap exists, despite the fact that those rad-fems at the Office of National Statistics maintain that it does. That women they know deny men access to children by claiming they’ve been abused, despite the fact that this has *never* happened in my particular region.

    I’ve been told that my experience of managing senior management teams in which people take career breaks or maternity leave, along with piles of research evidence about the incidence of maternity leave in small companies, plus my knowledge of the UK system of reimbursing more than 100 per cent of small companies’ maternity pay does not rebut this story their friend told them about his company going under because all the women got knocked up.

    It wasn’t until I started to work in a female-dominated field that I realised what it’s like to be listened to and taken seriously. I’m glad that I do what I do for many reasons, but very much for the litmus test it provides. If men overtly sneer – as they often do – when I tell them what I do, and for whom, then I get to know almost immediately that they’re not worth my time. (Of course the ones who ask my male partner what he does and skip right over me are another whole story.)

  38. Jezebella

    My copy of Catcher in the Rye being AWOL, I picked up J.D. Salinger’s Franny & Zooey this afternoon. Published in 1961, Zooey’s boyfriend Lane spends the entire story mansplaining while missing the fact that she is having some sort of physical and spiritual crisis. Salinger’s depiction is spot-on, remarkably, and now I’m on the lookout for earlier literary depictions of mansplaining that show exactly how it erases and talks over a woman’s experience. I’m surprised a male author did such a good job of it.

  39. Sharon

    The late, great English feminist comedian, Linda Smith, had a wonderful spiel in her act, the punchline of which was, “I speak to him in English and he hears me in Bollockbrain.” I have found the concept of Bollockbrain very handy on many occasions, and I now realise that it is the psychic twin of Mansplaining, which I had not come across before.

  40. slythwolf

    My husband spent this afternoon mansplaining to me that some conservative dudes like Sarah Palin because they are sexually attracted to her. It made me wonder if it had somehow escaped my notice that he had been wearing headphones and listening to music every time I said a word to him through the entire 2008 election cycle.

  41. Kelsey B.

    Being in a punk band gives a girl boundless opportunities for mansplanation.
    Dude: “Hey, if you keep the mic away from the speaker, it won’t feed back so much!”
    Me: “Why, thank you! I’ve only been doing this since my early teens! I had no idea!”
    Dude, oblivious: “Yeah, no problem!”

  42. Sarah

    What is up with this sentence in the LA Times piece:

    “Dude, if you’re reading this, you’re a carbuncle on the face of humanity and an obstacle to civilization. Feel the shame.”

    It comes three paragraphs from the end. I keep trying to put it into context, but I just can’t do it.

  43. Lauren O

    Sarah, that sentence is directed at the guy described in the paragraph above it.

    As for mansplaining anecdotes, my dad is the worst, but if I started on that, I’d never stop, so I’ll instead tell you about the male friend who laughed derisively at me (literally laughed!) when I related that “G-spot” stimulation did nothing for me. Apparently I have been doing sex wrong all this time. He was gay, too, so I’m sure he had tons of experience with the female reproductive system.

  44. Laughingrat

    Ah yes, mansplanation. There is also “cockpairing,” as we recently termed it at one job: where a dudely dude fiddles with a piece of equipment he knows nothing about rather than succumb to the humiliation of asking the nearest experts, who are all female, how to fix the damn thing. Then, when he finally gives in and asks them for help, he stands around and smirks and offers unhelpful advice while they fix the problem (which he, invariably, caused in the first place). I wonder how many womanhours are lost each year to the scourge of cockpairing?

  45. Gertrude Strine

    Want to do science for the joy of exploration of natural phenomena in the fellowship of inquiring minds?

    A lot of subordinate nerds: ~See this observation, it’s new/different from the paradigm
    dominant nerd: ~…

    then averagely a 7 year gap

    dominant nerd: ~See this original observation, it’s new/different from the paradigm

    a lot of subordinate nerds: ~…

    Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin’s PhD Thesis – “Stellar Atmospheres, A Contribution to the Observational Study of High Temperature in the Reversing Layers of Stars” Not a peep when she was told to excise stuff that was central to a revision of the basic composition of stars. Maintained until her death that science is a mutual endeavour.
    Rosalind Franklin’s “Photograph 51” Nobody heard a peep from her after the mansplainers nicked the snap and much of her splaining and called the work all theirs. She maintained that doing science was all that mattered to her.
    Many women in school science labs. … insert your own experience of loud mansplaining of stuff you’ve already seen, pointed out, and had ignored.

    Marie Curie never suffered any mansplaining because she was a better self-promoter than many men nerds.
    This still annoys a lot of men nerds a lot.
    Franklin probably laughed all the way.
    Payne-Gaposchkin? Too much of a genius for anybody to really know how she ticked, but she probably didn’t give a stuff about getting acknowledgement either.

  46. Laughingrat

    Gertrude (and others), you may enjoy this recent comic from Kate Beaton at “Hark! A Vagrant”:


  47. Jill

    “Being in a punk band gives a girl boundless opportunities for mansplanation.”

    Amen to that, girlfriend. Soundmen are carbuncles on the face of humanity and obstacles to civilization, but they never feel the shame.

  48. Jill

    “Published in 1961, Zooey’s boyfriend Lane”

    Ah yes, the controversial 1961 edition, where Zooey is gay.

  49. LizM

    @Jezebella, Mr Collins’ refusal to accept Elizabeth Bennet’s rejection of his marriage proposal in Pride and Prejudice is a scene of epic literary mansplanation. I am, in consequence, developing a theory that the stock literary type of “bore” may overlap nicely with the figure of the mansplainer.

  50. Jezebella

    Oh, shit. Franny, not Zooey. D’oh!

  51. Jonathan


    This is one bullet no man can dodge, no matter how feminist friendly he thinks he may be! Ha! I wish I had a nickel for every time I did this same thing! How many times have I done it to you, Jill? And will you ever forgive me?

    Nice job surreptitiously mansplaining that all men have an uncontrollable (and thus justifiably forgivable?) urge to mansplain.

    Yours is the smoothest one yet. But no, not worth a nickel.

  52. Kiuku

    I am too amazed in particular at men’s silent treatment of women. It is exactly the woman, or girl, that men cannot hear; literally. I just don’t get how anyone can be that willfully ignorant. How?

  53. Kiuku

    The first thing you do, when youre a child of about 5-8, to punish someone, is to give them the silent treatment. That men, in their psychological warfare against women, operate at the level of a child of about 5-8, shows clearly what we are up against, and why the entire world suffers periodic dark ages, in the absence of women’s equality and contribution.

  54. Fliss

    I pity the IBTP commenters who live with equally intelligent men. Your hair must be in little patches by now.

  55. Fliss

    .. because the 24/7 mansplaining would make you go apeshit!


    I am possibly being too NICE, but I think what is often going on is, because the men in the situation DO NOT EXPECT to hear anything worth listening to from women, they literally don’t HEAR the women when they speak.

    It is like that experiment where they took people from two wildly different worldviews, and handed them the exact same newspaper. Both people, when quizzed later, only remembered/took in the news articles that AGREED with their worldview or bolstered their already decided upon worldview. Their brains failed to TAKE IN any news that conflicted with their worldview.

    They were unable to HEAR (READ) what they couldn’t “handle”.

    This phenomenon explains a LOT about people who watch FOX news, as well as Mansplainers. Of course, they are WRONG! But I think this makes it understandable how a person can live in the world until maturity without noticing that women are superior to men.

  57. Shelby

    I was filling my car with petrol at the station around the corner from my house. My 2 children were in the back of the car and I was going to drop them off at school. When I went inside to pay for my petrol, Nigel, who did not know me from a bar of soap, asked me if I was driving my kids to school. Why yes I am Nigel thanks for asking. Nigel proceeded to mansplain to me that when he was a boy he would walk to school and that’s what my children should also be doing. Unfortunately, rather than ignoring the stupid prick, I was so flabbergasted by the affrontery of it all that I proceeded to explain to fucking Nigel WHY I was driving my children to school.

    It’s really dreadful social conditioning that women believe that the key to acceptance is to please others.

    I know without a doubt that there is absolutely no way he would have said any of it had I been bloke.

  58. Michele

    “I speak to him in English and he hears me in Bollockbrain.” Sharon- thank you. I knew there was an explanation!! Snorted wine out my nose when I read that…

  59. Jonathan


    I am possibly being too NICE, but I think what is often going on is, because the men in the situation DO NOT EXPECT to hear anything worth listening to from women, they literally don’t HEAR the women when they speak.

    If that were the case, then men would start listening to smart women the first time the women was (beyond all possible doubt) proven right. Instead, most men get more hostile when proven wrong and mansplain louder.

    Socialization is a major component, but the complete denial of a woman’s right to truth and a voice is willful misogyny on their part.

  60. Jonathan


    I pity the IBTP commenters who live with equally intelligent men. Your hair must be in little patches by now because the 24/7 mansplaining would make you go apeshit!

    Can a dude mansplain 24/7 and still be intelligent? Let alone equally intelligent?

  61. thebewilderness

    How good of you to come and mansplain’ that at us, Jonathan.

  62. Gertrude Strine


    It is exactly the woman, or girl, that men cannot hear; literally. I just don’t get how anyone can be that willfully ignorant. How?

    The divine Linda Smith of Sharon’s most welcome recall had another splain for that:

    language is their second language.

    I can’t remember whether the subject of that one-liner was all or one particular man, but wotthehell.
    And more to the point, who effing really cares. Bollocks just are.

  63. Isabel

    @Gertrude Strine: Rosalind Franklin was no shrinking violet and reportedly could be very fierce and intimidating and suffered no fools. She apparently became visibly angry on at least one occasion when not properly credited. She appears to have simply had no idea how much her work was used by W & C. She thought they solved the structure on their own and reacted graciously. She was in the middle of moving on with her life and was distracted and unhappy which is probably why they got away with so much. RF had many other major achievements she was proud of and was sought after and widely published. How would she have reacted regarding the DNA business had she lived to read Watson’s bestseller* and either been included or not in the Nobel prize?
    *How different would the book have been if “Rosie” had lived??? Watson was clearly intimidated by her, for all his bluster.

  64. norbizness

    Yo Jill, I’m really happy for you, and I’ma let you finish, but there are other neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine for which both excitatory and inhibitory receptors exist.

  65. Ames

    The average human can take in only so much information; no doubt this varies by circumstance, but still. From an early age we’re encouraged by most adjacent humans to filter based on favored forms of forgetfulness. We use superstition, aesthetics, proximity, whathaveyou, to determine what we will hear and process. Really, what a time saver! It’s a handy device to teach whole swaths of the species to ignore other swaths. Without other training, boys grow up learning that they can save themselves all that paying-attention time by ignoring fully half of the people they encounter. This saves them the precious time they can then use for important things, like studying and remembering the batting order of the winning team in the ’57 World Series.

  66. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Two things females should learn as soon as they’re capable: Saying “NO” and ignoring self-righteous men quacking.

  67. Lori

    I spent years of my life as an interior designer in Southern California – land of the new home with an unneeded wet bar (it’s where Angeleno new parents store the disposable diapers) and no bookcases. So, I spent a lot of time shopping for bookcases. I cannot tell you how many times I took out a tape measure to measure the inside depth of a book case shelf, only to have the man, who watched me measure, take the measure away from me when he didn’t believe the number reported. he’d remeasure and 100% of the time, come up with the same number because there is nothing simpler than measuring the width of what is almost certainly a 1×9 board. You hook the tape at the back of the shelf, pull it forward and there is the number for the world to see. Weird.

  68. Carrie

    First time comment here, but I have such a great example of infuriating-but-so-ridiculous-it’s-funny mansplaining I couldn’t help myself.

    My friend tried to mansplain to me that, on a piano, the high tones are on the bottom and low on top. (I know- what an idiot, right?!)

    I have a music degree. I’ve played piano for 20 something years. He knows this, but I still had to contradict him 3 OR 4 TIMES before he believed me. And then, no apology for his outright patronizing prickiness or admission of being wrong.

    This bullshit, in subtle and not so subtle ways, happens to women everywhere so much that we let it roll off our shoulders.

    We shouldn’t. Every time it happens, our confidence is taken down one more notch, until it’s so low we question our own credibility. So low that, as AN ACTUAL PIANIST, there was a moment (a millisecond, but still) that I thought, maybe, somewhere, in the suburbia of Houston where he grew up, there existed a piano like the one he described. Maybe his grandmother’s piano WAS backwards.

    Sad. IBTP.

    Thank you Jill for this blog. Thank you and commenters for your brilliant articulation of the patriarchy; it’s scary how stunningly clear it is now that the blinders have been removed. It’s sad how rare we are. Now I know now I’m not the only feminist, or crazy, or wrong, or humorless, or making something out of nothing, or wasting my time.

    I am hairy though.

    Fuck the dominant paradigm.

  69. Hedgepig

    I only just noticed the Where the Blamers Are feature! What larks!

  70. kristinc

    Re: “Bollockbrain”, one of my friends has a similar concept, the Dumbass Filter (as in: “Why can you not grasp this simple concept after I’ve explained it ten times? Am I not shouting loudly enough into the Dumbass Filter?”).

    As far as I know, the Dumbass Filter is gender-neutral, a key difference from mansplaining and Bollockbrain, but that’s not going to stop me from shamelessly appropriating the concept.

  71. nails

    This is the kind of shit that makes women go insane. It is either that everyone around you is fucking crazy and misogynist, or you are just perceiving reality wrong. Being encouraged to be submissive and feminine increases the chances that a woman will accept that she is just crazy instead of living in a crazy culture.

  72. Kookaburra

    The best instance of mansplaining I’ve been subjected to was when a friend of my step-father learned that I am just finishing up paramedic school, and spent 15 minutes explaining to me how to do CPR.

    If he keels over from a massive coronary I will be certain to follow his advice exactly.

  73. MarianK

    Penultimtae mansplainer:

    ‘Is it turned on?’

  74. Gertrude Strine

    nice bit of mansplaining there ;-)
    Who know what’s in the hearts of women either?
    I don’t know where the idea that Franklin is a victim comes from – maybe it makes a good story in these cancer fetish days ;-)
    Franklin was a genuis and contributed a lot to mol bol is all that’s in the evidence. The Watson and Crick (particularly that bollockbrain Watson) self-promotion on being *original* is fairly typical of dominant nerds, whether they do enough of the contributing work to claim all kudos or not. Until Franklin taught them, neither knew enough of chemistry to realise that they were trying to plug particular molecules on the outside of the model that just would have been dissolved in the cellular matrix – for example. The evidence is in her Medical Research Council paper that preceded the Nature one by a year.
    She is on record as being aghast at having landed in the Patriarchal swamp that was Cambridge’s mol bol labs, after having a dream run sharing stuff with other scientists in her main stamping labs in Paris, where she was acknowledged as a dominant nerd.
    She got the shits when she was forced to play office politics back in old Blighty. The Cambridge job description was nothing like the work she was actually offered when she arrived. etc etc. Patriarchal attitudes from the chancellor etc, but not exactly unusual for many nerds when they get a new job and find that what’s on the description is nothing like the bollockbrains personalities doing the work. The only response that lets a person get work done in that kind of environment is to either ignore or make fun of it. Men of course saw her derision as aggression. Poor ickle boys.
    I don’t see anything in all that to make me see her as a victim of anything more than plain old Patriarchal shit(and maybe a little indifference to the benefits of lead aprons).
    I agree that she wasn’t phased by the Nature paper leaving her out, but I doubt that she was gracious out of ignorance; while acknowledging the brilliant intuition the dominant men displayed, anybody with half a brain would’ve jumped at the chance to be shot of Watson the creep and to be able to get on with doing science, and not want to be joined at the hip to them for years to follow.

  75. Isabel

    Yes, but finding the structure WAS her goal also, I think she really did think they got there first mostly on their own. It just wasn’t as big a deal to her, sure. Yes she was probably relieved at the time as she was wanting to move on. But there is no evidence that she fully realized the degree to which they were just impatiently hanging around (especially scumbag Watson) the whole time waiting for her to publish more results or give a preliminary talk on her findings or publish in an in-house publication they had access to unbeknown to her, or leave a photograph lying around. At least I have heard that she never knew they used the photo and the in-house reports. And she was so brilliant she may have never realized the degree to which an offhand remark from her during a visit to look at their model could be a major step forward to them. Funny how Watson’s book actually restored Franklin’s credit, as there was no way to tell the story without constantly talking about her (in an unforgivably disparaging way of course).

    Anyway, I misunderstood your first post and thought YOU were portraying her as a victim, sorry.

  76. Isabel

    Yes, but finding the structure WAS her goal also, I think she really did think they got there first mostly on their own. It just wasn’t as big a deal to her, sure. Yes she was probably relieved at the time as she was wanting to move on. But there is no evidence that she fully realized the degree to which they were just impatiently hanging around (especially scumbag Watson) the whole time waiting for her to publish more results or give a preliminary talk on her findings or publish in an in-house publication they had access to unbeknown to her, or leave a photograph lying around. At least I have heard that she never knew they used the photo and the in-house reports. And she was so brilliant she may have never realized the degree to which an offhand remark from her during a visit to look at their model could be a major step forward to them. Funny how Watson’s book actually restored Franklin’s credit, as there was no way to tell the story without constantly talking about her (in an unforgivably disparaging way of course).

    Anyway, I misunderstood your first post and thought YOU were portraying her as a victim, sorry.

  77. Isabel

    Oops, sorry about the double post.

  78. SKM

    Last night at a poetry reading, some dood spent his valuable time explaining ”irony” and ”cynicism” to me, then asking genuinely if I felt I was deluded.

    Kristyn, I hope the meeting with your publisher went well and that some day soon, as you are riffling through the freshly-cut pages of your latest book, we can all sit around and laugh about how stupid it is to ask someone if she feels she’s deluded.

    Hint, sir: deluded folks are not clear on realities such as whether they are deluded. Because they are deluded. Rather like you, sir.

  79. kristyn

    ”Hint, sir: deluded folks are not clear on realities such as whether they are deluded. Because they are deluded. Rather like you, sir.”

    He also asked me if I thought he was a poser. I said I didn’t know, I hadn’t thought of the WORD poser since I was, oh, you know. Fourteen.

    Sigh. Thanks for the kind words though! My meeting went extremely well, by which I mean, the male publisher was deeply unnerved by my work while all of the women jumped to network me with themselves and other writers. So I got a deal with another, female, writer who self-publishes.

    Ain’t that how it goes. Sometimes the P screws itself in small ways. Now if we can just encourage the big ways.

  80. Gertrude Strine


    thought YOU were portraying her as a victim, sorry.

    And there I was, thinking we were both deploring the victim trope together. eh eh. The gossip about Franklin is quite of the betises, as the french say.
    Any apology should be mine for being such a shit writer. Your take that she didn’t see it as a big deal is interesting. I rather thought she saw the value but hated the politics and yet at that stage of XRay diff crystallography there were so many other important molecules to elucidate indeed, so why wouldn’t Franklin indeed see it as less the career-defining breakthrough than a couple of lesser nerds thought it was.
    For what it’s worth, my first post was trying to make the point that there just isn’t any way to do cooperative research in a patriarchal system – and many clever women (and men) just dodge all the dominance play and get on with doing their work while the mansplaining of lesser but tenured mortals just drones on and on and on until it catches up with the science that’s getting done.
    Overall I find it more funny than sad.

  81. Amber

    Good call Twisty loved this one and now I know I am not alone.

    The very top mansplainers I know are my father followed closely by my two boss’. Perhaps when men are self perceived “authority figures” they have some sort of instinct to preserve their ego or something. This is so they never ever have to listen to a thing you have to say and then further ‘splain what their “obvious rightness” is. I also find they into detail why you should just accept it so they can always be “the authority” on whatever subject and thus have the delicate male ego remain ever bloated with self satisfaction.

    Perhaps most men are natural mansplainers, it was quite normal when I was growing up for me to learn something then take that knowledge home, have a dinner table discussion and have my father pretend to know every single thing about it when it had just been discovered or invented. Not to mention there was no effin way he could have known about it as he had no access the internet, only had 3 channels of tv, read the local town paper and possessed a grade 10 education. Its seems that they cannot help but think women are all idiots put on the planet to be ‘splained to.

    My boss never lets me get a word in edgewise about anything unless it’s to blame me for something and he requires more fodder to do so, letting me speak seems to only feed into his ability to say I am wrong, and go into further detail why what he is saying is the end all and be all, end of discussion, all the while staring at my chest(yes he really does do this).

    I am lucky enough to have an intelligent, feminist, man(he hates to see me in makeup and girlshoes) but he does get high and mighty at times. I pretty much just let him talk in circles, pretend to know what he is doing/where he is going. Then I laugh really hard at him when he looks like a tool for not listening to me and for mansplaining to me the whole time how he “knew”. That method seems to keep the mansplaining to a minimum, nothing better than letting someone put his foot in their mouth to shut someone up.

  82. ma'am

    A couple of years ago Dr Mansplanation bought me a pair of those aluminum hiking poles. I use them for a couple of years, and, finally, decide to buy Dr. Mansplanation some too. The next time we go hiking, he spends the entire day telling me how to use them.

  83. Jezebella

    I have to ask again: how do you people DO IT? How can you stand living with men? Seriously, how did you not beat him to death with his own hiking pole? Yecch. People wonder why I’m single, and it’s crap like that, up with which I will not put.

  84. Jezebella

    At the risk of opening my piehole to often, I’d like to note that the above is a rhetorical question. Please do not, on my account, deluge us with paeans to the ways in which your Nigel makes up for his mansplaining, his privilege, and his general het-male-itude.

  85. Jill

    “Please do not, on my account, deluge us with paeans to the ways in which your Nigel makes up for his mansplaining, his privilege, and his general het-male-itude.”

    Whew! Crisis averted! Once straight chicks start oding on their contentment with heteronormative relationship culture, it’s really hard to make them stop.

  86. V.

    There’s a guy at work.

    He came to me with one of his make-work assignments, which was to develop a decision tree for which problems should be addressed in-depth by my department.

    My department, two women with graduate degrees, makes these decisions.

    I spent five minutes of Oh HELL to the NO explaining to him why someone with no expertise isn’t able to make the nuanced judgment calls that folks with graduate degrees in another field make–even with a written ‘decision tree.’

    And why, in a workplace our size, there is absolutely no need for a decision tree form that would be implemented by paraprofessionals–it would take them 45 minutes to do what my department can do in less than 5.

    Damn if he didn’t make up a form anyway.

    I think that’s a classic ‘He hears me with his penis’ example.

  87. Kiuku

    Overlady, that’s an interesting study. I think men literally don’t listen to women, because women are supposed to listen to them. So when men talk to women, it’s really about what he’s saying. So he’s really only listening to himself and that’s the entire point of the engagement. I don’t think I’ve really seen men mansplain to eachother. I’ve seen them try to b.s. But that’s different than say, a man with no experience at piano, telling a woman whom he knows is a pianist, with 20 years experience, about the damn thing. Or saying “There are things in the brain called neurotransmitters” to a woman neurologist. Men defer to eachother’s experience, no matter how small or unworthy.

    I like the above discussion of Rosa Franklin. What she must have gone through! First I’m sure her ideas were belittled and dismissed, only to be hijacked completely. Of course they gave her no credit, and still to this day Watson “found” the structure of DNA

  88. Kiuku

    the thing between Franklin and Watson, coupled with complete dark ages where Patriarchy is strongest, leads me to believe that men really haven’t invented anything at all, or atleast nothing of any kind of sophistication.

  89. Kiuku

    And I’ve speculated that perhaps you know, where there are men that are more scientific, they have more of an open mind toward female involvement, so you see female involvement where there is scientific enterprise. But that’s just not the case, because some of the most outspoken misogynists are men who try to do science. Yet, the degree of female involvement is strongly correlated with what we call “progress.”

    And if you want to know the real source of any male’s great idea, look at the women around him. We all know Plato’s mentor was a woman. We know math and astronomy originated with Priestesses. And when they killed Hypatia of Alexandria we went into yet another dark age only to be lifted by the rennaisance, and appreciation of female superiority.

    Men are and have always been figure heads for women’s ideas, because of the general attitude of men toward women.

    I mean yea, anything that pumps, screws or thrusts a man probably came up with it. But anything of any kind of sophistication: astronomy, math, electricity, computers, DNA, is women’s.

  90. Shira

    Nothing brings out the mansplaining like physical disability. Typical conversation:

    *About to walk up stairs*
    Me: “Hang on I need to put my knee/hip braces on.”
    Mansplainer: “Do you really have to?”

    Me: “Yes. I’m disabled and have been for years. You know this. I’ve got muscle/joint problems.”
    Mansplanation #1: “If weak muscles are the problem then the solution is obvious. You need to focus on getting some kind of physical therapy exercise program and really building your muscles up to where you don’t need supports.”

    Me: “No, actually, that would make it worse and be very painful.”
    Mansplanation #2: “You have to understand that a little discomfort is part of life.”

    One of my favorite lines from House is:

    “Being different, I’ve had to deal with a lot of idiots. But it’s still infinitely better than actually being an idiot.”

  91. nails

    “I have to ask again: how do you people DO IT? How can you stand living with men? Seriously, how did you not beat him to death with his own hiking pole? Yecch.”

    Meh. My nigel gives me hope for the rest of dude nation. Things got better rather than worse when we both decided to learn more about feminism. He didn’t get pissy or resistant about any of it. Things are not ever going to be perfect, because of the cultural context that we exist in, but I am not down with isolating myself from someone who listens to me and agrees with me about feminism. That’s pretty hard to find these days.

  92. Natasha S

    This is a great post and even much wonderful are the comments! Naturally, being a girl (being a rather young and a non-white girl, at that) I have experienced a lot of this in my life. Being non-white (and young) makes it even worse because you have Wise, Chivalrous, White Dude™ mansplaining me on my own culture, history etc. and/or questioning my own knowledge and opinions of other subjects and regarding them as inferior to his own. I wish I had a dollar for every time this was done to me but. even that would be worthy reparation for that painful moment of self-doubt, hesitation and general feeling of inferiority because of belonging to a different sex and race of the dominant class.


  93. Natasha S

    *wouldn’t, Sorry, wouldn’t be a worthy reparation. Sorry if I have made any grammar or punctuation mistakes, English is not my first language.

  94. Hedgepig

    I’ll tell you how we can stand it: co-dependence.

  95. Katherine

    Just remembered an incidence of mansplanation that I haven’t posted in one of the other threads:

    One time I was talking to my dad a little while after I’d moved out of my parents house. He suggested that if I ever needed some advice, that I should ask my mum, because she was really smart and that. I tried to inform him that I knew that already (duh) and he basically ignored me and continued to promote my mum “she even knows what to do if you get a UTI!” I said “I know, I already asked her about that” which finally shut him up. I mean geez. I was hardly going to ask him first, or sit and suffer with one. <_< I suppose at least I wasn't getting direct unasked-for advice on what to do if I get a UTI.

    Anyway thanks Jill and everyone for getting the word out about mansplanation, and for regaling us with stories of mansplanation.

  96. nails

    I have a question for people who are critical of het relationships- does this critique extend to other forms of power imbalance? What about interracial relationships? People who are differently abled? Class difference (how much of a difference is needed for this to be an issue)? Trans and cis?

  97. Jezebella

    Nails, if that’s directed at me, I should note that I am a het woman who isn’t so much “critical” of het relationships as fucking mystified with the shit women will tolerate in a relationship. I’m not talking about abuse – I understand THAT dynamic all too well- I’m talking about the daily bullshit of mansplaining and over-talking and just general male privilege that women who ARE free to leave will tolerate. I am ill-qualified to have an opinion on the other kinds of relationships you mention.

  98. speedbudget

    Jezebella: I think it’s because the bar is set so low for decent male behavior and there is so much societal pressure on women to be in a relationship. If you haven’t had a feminist epiphany, a little mansplaining and male privilege is sold as a bill of goods that this guy is awesome. Hey, at least he doesn’t beat me; right?

    I’ve had a couple good friends tell me that even if they ARE in a shitty, shitty relationship, that’s better than being single because being single is just pathetic. And I hadn’t been in a relationship in six years at that point, so I asked them what that said about me. They didn’t have an answer.

  99. Hedgepig

    Another complicating factor is that the alternatives to non-abusive het relationships, those involving co-habitation in particular, are not necessarily much better. I’ve shared houses with female friends several times for years at a time, and the treatment I’ve received from some of them has been abysmal. Treatment that resembled the kinds of infuriating, insulting and demeaning stuff men pull because of privilege; different only in that the people being arseholes are using the force of their personalities or their manipulative talents on a social equal, rather than the presumption of superiority based on gender. Living alone is really the best option, but that’s not financially viable for everyone.

  100. speedbudget

    Hedgepig: I agree. I live alone now, and believe me. I shit my pants constantly. One misstep and I’m totally, utterly screwed. But I’m doing it, not least because the thought of sharing my space with anyone, male or female, makes my skin crawl.

  101. Laughingrat

    does this critique extend to other forms of power imbalance?

    Translation: quit criticizing sexist dynamics in het relationships! That’s not as important as all these other issues! You feminists need to concentrate on what’s important!

  102. phio gistic

    One of my favorite mansplaining anecdotes:
    I had been hired by a friend of mine to install security software on the public computer in his bar. I went in early in the day when the place was mostly empty and was sitting at the computer, with a beer and a smoke, happily working away when in sashays this fellow I’d never seen before. He saunters up and says hello and within minutes is literally trying to take the mouse out of my hand and show my how to use it. Once I’d stopped laughing, I told him thanks, but I really needed some alone time with the computer so I could finish up the project I had been hired to do.

  103. Fred Fnord

    Not that you’re going to read comments attached to posts this old, but I feel the need to complain about this goddamned post.

    You seriously imperiled my life by this post. I started laughing and coughing at the word ‘mansplaining’ (which I admit to having been guilty of more than once, to people of a wide variety of genders, although if it makes any difference I conciously try not to do it now). When I got to the bit about the computers I was crying, and when I hit ‘crapping a rule’ I was doubled over, coughing and laughing so hard that the sparklies were dancing in front of my eyes and brain aneurism was beginning to sound like one of the less stressful possible outcomes.

    Damn. You people write all this stuff and you NEVER THINK of the poor people with pneumonia you might CALLOUSLY KILL with it!

    Isn’t that just like a woman?


  104. monika/shermanvolvo

    My favourite (and most painful to witness mansplaining) involved a white dude (facilitator) interrupting a woman of Colour (participant) in order to badly (and wrongly) summarize her very intelligent contribution to a discussion against violence against women.

  105. Saphire

    ^ Ugh. Some men are just embarassing with mansplaining. I wish we could all laugh at how cringe-worthy men are. But it’s like women should never laugh at men. Or we’re hairy man hating witches. The reas