Mansplaining is the male art of dumbing down concepts for women, with the hopes that their dainty brains will be able to understand them.
Many women I know have experienced it. You’re with a guy friend/your boyfriend/ your dad or whoever, a male, and another man comes up to the two of you to speak. The newcomer explains a concept to your male companion, and when he takes a moment to acknowledge your existence, he explains the same concept in kindergarden terms. It could be anything as simple as fishing. He’ll tell your companion that he’s excited to go fishing that weekend, turn to you and explain that fishing is when two manly men throw strings with worms on the end over the side of a boat in hopes of tricking a fish into latching on to the worm so they can pull the fish out of the water.
But what’s worse is being completely ignored in general.
My boyfriend and I walk to most places, being college students, and he has begun to notice the amount of times that other men will completely ignore me and only talk to him. He never noticed before because the other women he walks with won’t complain outrightly about it, but it makes my blood boil — I can’t hold it back.
The most ridiculous instance was when my boyfriend and I were in a study lounge in one of the campus dorm buildings. He was on the phone with his mom when a guy who had been sitting a few tables away approached us. Let’s call this guy TEI (The Embodiment of Ignorance) for short. TEI looks directly at my boyfriend and asks if he can watch his backpack while TEI runs to the bathroom. My boyfriend hadn’t even noticed TEI approach, let alone the fact that he was talking to him because he was deep in his phone call. So I told TEI that we’d watch his bag for him, and TEI left without making eye contact with me or saying thank you. Not thinking too far into it, I continued with my homework, keeping the bag in my sights. TEI returned later while my boyfriend was still on the phone. I told him the bag was safe and while looking pointedly away from me and directly at my boyfriend, he thanked him and went on his way. Seeing my obviously annoyed face, my boyfriend asked what the guy had wanted and what happened and laughed when I told him.
A similar situation happened this weekend when a man approached us on the street, asking that we donate to his charity. He gave my boyfriend a pamphlet and explained the project to him, all the while ignoring me. Already being able to tell what kind of situation this was, I looked elsewhere toward other street vendors, but still remaining by my boyfriend’s side the whole time. In the end, the man asked us both for money, this time acknowledging my existence by asking me to open my wallet and when my boyfriend said no before I could respond, the man shook his hand and went off toward another group.
“You didn’t shake my hand!” I called after him.
He pathetically tried to shake my hand, laughing as if I was making a silly complaint, but I rejected his hand.
It is ridiculous that I am still treated as if my boyfriend makes the decisions for both of us. The man hadn’t even given me a pamphlet or explained what his charity was about to me, and yet he expected me to make a donation. And once my boyfriend said no, he left as if my boyfriend is the one who says who I give my money to and when.
It happens all the time.
Something about having a man with me deems me as unapproachable to other men. One time a homeless man asked my boyfriend for money and didn't even bother to ask me, even though I was the one treating us both to lunch!
We are not invisible, and we are not under the instruction of the men we happen to be with — stop acting like we are. All you’re doing is missing out on what we could give you, if only you asked.