What Is 'Mansplaining'? 5 Ways To Assert Yourself & Your Intelligence When It Happens

Photo: Mihai Stefan on Unsplash
What Is Mansplaining? 5 Ways To Assert Yourself And Your Intelligence When It Happens

Mansplaining: it’s a term that almost all women can easily define yet men have trouble grasping, despite the fact that many of them do it.

So, what is mansplaining?

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, to ‘mansplain’ something means that a man will interject and condescendingly oversimplify a topic under the assumption that his female listener is uninformed, often in spite of her expertise.

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The concept is ancient, but the word itself was coined by author Rebecca Solnit in her 2014 essay, "Men Explain Things To Me".

Having a dude mansplain something to you can be annoying at best and demeaning at worst, and many of us girls know this all too well. Luckily, there are several ways to turn the situation around, asserting yourself and your intelligence.

Use these 5 tips for how to deal with a guy who starts mansplaining something to you.

1. Add related information to the conversation.

This is a classic way to turn the tables and fight mansplaining. Surprise your mansplainer with some information that he might not know! This will show him that he’s preaching to the choir and that there’s no need for him to go on any longer about the topic (unless it turns into a fair, two-sided discussion from here). 

This is perhaps the most obvious way to stop a mansplanation from continuing, but it rarely fails.

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2. Be sarcastic.

Feeling a little sassy?  Don’t be afraid to slip in a, "Thank you for all of that information” or a “Wow, you really know a lot about this topic!”  While number 1 works better to assert your knowledge, you do not owe anyone proof of your intelligence. If you’re tired of listening to him talk, this is an easy way to signal that he needs to stop.

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3.  Point out holes or errors in his information by posing questions.

If he’s wrong and you know it, don’t be afraid to point it out!  One way to do this is to ask questions like, “If what you said is true, then why would X happen?”  This shows that you are well-informed on the topic without having to elaborate.

If his information is all correct so far, you can still challenge subjective aspects of the topic and engage in an opinion-based debate.  Your ability to advocate for your own side of the debate (or the other for the sake of discussion) shows that you know your stuff and that you think critically about it.

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4. Be straight-up and call him out!

This one takes guts, but it is easily the clearest in showing that you are tired of his condescending behavior. While you may tell him that he is mansplaining to you and that he needs to stop, the sad truth is that men often stop listening when they hear feminist terminology like “mansplaining.”

A more effective method is to firmly tell him that you are educated on the subject or that you simply don’t appreciate his condescending tone.  If he tries to discredit you further or resort to name-calling, skip to number 5.

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5.  Walk away.

This is the “kill them with kindness” of solutions to mansplaining. While it’s not the most satisfying method of dodging a mansplanation, it is consistently effective in preserving your time from being wasted. You can say something like, “I don’t have time for this” or “Thank you” as you walk away - or just turn around and do it. Either way, you’ll be telling him that you don’t need any more info. As a fair warning, this method is best used in casual settings rather than professional meetings.

In the age of third-wave feminism, men continue to feel threatened by strong-willed, educated women. Too many times, it results in women being pushed aside and discredited from the casual bar setting to the workplace and anywhere in-between. Don’t allow any of the men in your life to make you feel insecure in yourself or your intelligence! Madonna once said, “I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, OK.” So don’t be afraid to be assertive, sarcastic, bitchy or whatever works best for you in the context of the conversation. You deserve respect!

Emily Van Devender is a writer who covers trending topics, pop culture and astrology.

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