Most people have heard of “mansplaining” but what about “womansplaining”? Is that a thing?
Splaining of any kind if when one person needlessly explains, often in great detail, about a subject to someone who doesn’t need the explanation. It is making the assumption of ignorance of the person being explained to.
We hear more about mansplaining because many more women are acutely aware of the level of sexism that still faces many women across the world. Women are in a better position today to have their voices heard. It is important to note that sexism can work both ways. Whenever we have gender inequality, there is the potential for this sort of thing to occur, regardless of the gender of the purpose perpetrating it.
What Kind of Topics Are Most Commonly Womansplained?
Activities that are tied to typical gender roles and often the first and most likely subjects to be splained. In the case of womansplaining this covers topics such areas in the domestic domain or parenting.
In today’s age, more men are becoming accustomed to domestic work. While some couples still experience a traditional division of labor in their relationship, not all of them do. Men are also being raised differently than in previous generations. More young boys are being taught to cook and maintain a household. More men are developing those skills. When they enter new relationships they can end up on the receiving ends of instructions from their partner that assume they have no idea how to tackle any domestic chores. The assumption of the traditional roles and knowledge sets can be frustrating for some men. It can also just reinforce those gender stereotypes.
The other major area where men can be splained to is in the area of parenting. The average woman is more likely to invest time researching topics relating to pregnancy and parenting and this leaves many people assuming that the mother always knows best. In our society, this is also a very common idea that is rarely challenged. Recent research has shown that many fathers, particularly new fathers, feel highly criticized by their co-parent. If they are constantly rebuffed for how they interact with the kid(s) it can undermine their confidence in their own parenting ability. This can actually cause fathers to disengage with their children and be a more absent parent.
Is Womansplaining the Same as Mansplaining? Does it Matter?
There is a natural desire when discussing one topic to immediately jump in and try to compare the counterpart. The truth of the matter is that these things are not really comparable. That’s because the power dynamic between men and women is not comparable. That is the essence of inequality. It’s true that women face more negative stereotyping and splaining on a much wider variety of topics than men do. This doesn’t change how that sexist power dynamic is flipped.
It’s also important to note that this is not a contest or a competition. When we are striving for real gender equality, we need to address each inequality as it arises. A person of any gender can act in a sexist manner or perpetuate gender stereotypes that are damaging to the pursuit of gender equality. Denying this keeps us divided. Giving each issue its own space and time ensures that everyone has a chance to feel heard and respected.
Respect is Key in Gender Equality
Who likes to be spoken to like an idiot? Who wants to feel disrespected? It’s not a good feeling no matter who you are or what your gender is. Each person can do their small part to ending sexist biases by ensuring we are being respectful to those around us. The more that we can foster that respect in our romantic relationships and friendships as well, the more we will model that to those around us and be part of the change society needs to overcome sexism and gender bias.
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