Mansplaining: I Got Served.

The other morning at work I was embroiled in a conversation about feminism with two male coworkers, one of whom I am very close with and whom I describe as a feminist even though he feels uncomfortable identifying as one, and the other who just started working with us.

The latter had been a stay at home dad to three young children until recently, and I got the feeling he wanted to brag about that. He recounted a story about how he was at the supermarket with said children and an old woman complimented him on pitching in to help with the kids and give mum a break (funny how women are never complimented for this; it’s just out duty). Somehow the conversation moved on to feminism, and my friend joked that he’d be a feminist’s worst nightmare. He then clarified, saying that he’d actually been called a feminist. The new guy scoffed, asking who called him that and if they knew what a feminist was. I butted in, saying it was me who called him a feminist and, yes, I know what one is. My friend attempted to defend my honour by saying that I’m a feminist blogger so of course I know what a feminist is. The conversation then somehow moved on to Popeye, of all things, and my colleague asked if my friend thought Olive Oyl was a victim or a slut because she kept flitting between an obsessed Popeye and the abusive Bluto. My friend ummed and ahhed his way out of the predicament while I stood there reeling.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the conversation for the rest of the day. I didn’t know why, all I knew was that I felt about 100 shades of discomfort during and after the interaction.

Then I realised: when I was scoffed at for calling a man a feminist, I was being mansplained to.

From the background info above, this guy seems to subscribe to the virgin/whore dichotomy when it comes to women and that feminism is only the concern of someone who has a vagina. Perhaps because of his stay-at-home status he feels like he lives in a post-feminist society with his wife as the breadwinner being proof of this. I really don’t know, and I don’t care to. I’m uncomfortable around this guy, and I don’t want to have to justify my feminism to him. He obviously comes from a different generation and probably thinks he knows all there is to know about feminism because he took a gender studies class at uni that one time or read a book on the topic.

I know I’m being a bit harsh here, but he really got my back up over this. Do you think I’m overreacting or does being mansplained to make your blood boil, too?

Elsewhere: [Tiger Beatdown] Chronicles of Mansplaining: Professor Feminism & the Deleted Comments of Doom.

6 thoughts on “Mansplaining: I Got Served.

  1. I don’t see how anything he said is connected to mansplaining. Did he explain feminism in a condescending manner? The virgin whore thing is clear, but I see no explaining.

    And feminism is often actively hostile to men. A lot of feminists are hostile to unfamiliar men due to some sort of Schroedinger’s rape ideology. It’s understandable why most guys wouldn’t think it was a natural place for a man. Why join an ideology that mostly hates you?

  2. I found it a bit hard to understand exactly what he was saying from the post, which is probably more of a reflection on me than your writing because I love your blog!

    It seems like he was judging your friend without knowing him as “not a feminist” though, which isn’t cool. It’s hard for me to understand further, I don’t think you are over reacting defending your friend, this guys doesn’t know him from Adam so it’s weird attacking him for not being a feminist!

    On the other hand I think bragging about being a stay at home dad is a good thing in isolation. In our society not many men would be bragging about this, so changing the culture so it is something to be proud of and brag about is great. This is all said with the understanding that women of course deserve the same credit for the same job, and that there are right and wrong ways to brag. Using your achievements to attempt to pull others down is a no go!

  3. Guys, perhaps I should have been clearer: it wasn’t so much WHAT he said, ’cause he didn’t say a whole hell of a lot, but it was HOW he said it.
    I just felt like I and my friend were being judged, which is not an uncommon feeling when talking about feminism, to men AND women.

  4. I can understand you, I would feel judged as well. For me personally sometimes it’s just not worth the fight. I have guy-friends who love to tell jokes about women but at the same time consider themselves very pro-feminist. Still never ever would they be ok with being called feminist.
    And I’m 21 so I can’t blame it on my generation and trying to discuss their opinion ends in me being a bitch, so yeah it’s pretty hopeless, maybe that’s the reason why I chose not to be friends with ignorant assholes who have a degree in implicit bullying .

  5. Totally understand you, Scarlett. Using Popeye as an example is also stupid as it implies that female roles and feminism is cut-and-dry and easily explained with one reference to popular culture. I can’t stand mansplaining and doing it so quickly into your working relationship is a pretty dumb move. (Plus, not acceptable!) I just hope that he’s not my replacement!

  6. I know I am way late on this conversation, but I would classify this as mansplaining. The ridiculous Popeye example (seriously, wtf though?) is a way to try to dismiss feminism by making your friend choose between agreeing that women are either victims or sluts. To me, scoffing is just like patting someone on the head, like “Oh, you silly lady with your silly lady brain, you couldn’t possibly understand what we’re talking about. Now let me mansplain this to you.” Barf.

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