Should We Retire the Word “Mansplaining”?

by Katrina Pallop

A gem from the Mansplaining Paul Ryan meme

I was absolutely smitten with the word “mansplaining” when it first emerged a couple years back. The term fit my particular frustration with being talked down to by male classmates, professors, and employers like a cozy little sweater of outrage. I found it extremely satisfying to call out offending men-folk with the snappy little portmanteau, and feminist blogs adopted the idea of “mansplaining” with gusto. 

But the tide is turning against one of 2010’s most popular breakout catchphrases. “Mansplaining” has made its way into the mainstream and has, in the process, lost most of its original sparkle. Annie-Rose Strasser lays out the reasons why “mansplaining” should be stricken from the conversation in a piece for Think Progress. And as much as I hate to let go of this witty comeback staple, she makes some pretty valid points. 

Strasser says that “If the goal of feminism (and, particularly, young feminists on the internet) is to create an inclusive conversation where we can get to the root of systematic behavior that suppresses the ability of women to succeed, then inventing our own terminology — or at least the word ‘mansplain’ — has failed.” She also points out that the word is far too playful for what it actually means, and that “by calling out men in the term mansplaining, feminists bring up a gender divide when condescension actually plays an integral role in privilege more broadly.”

The application of “mansplaining” does seem to be getting muddled as it goes through the telephone game of popular media. As fun as it is to say, perhaps it is time to retire “mansplaining,” in favor of language that is less tongue-in-cheek and more biting.


Source: Think Progress

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