Though I hasten to add that the essay makes it clear mansplaining is not a universal flaw of the gender, just the intersection between overconfidence and cluelessness where some portion of that gender gets stuck.
The battle for women to be treated like human beings with rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of involvement in cultural and political arenas continues, and it is sometimes a pretty grim battle.
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That I was indeed the author of the very important book it turned out he hadn’t read, just read about in the a few months earlier, so confused the neat categories into which his world was sorted that he was stunned speechless–for a moment, before he began holding forth again.
Being women, we were politely out of earshot before we started laughing, and we’ve never really stopped.
It wanted to be written; it was restless for the racetrack; it galloped along once I sat down at the computer; and since Marina slept in later than me in those days, I served it for breakfast and sent it to Tom later that day. It still seems to get reposted more than just about anything I’ve written at Tom Dispatch.com, and prompted some very funny letters to this site.
None was more astonishing than the one from the Indianapolis man who wrote in to tell me that he had “never personally or professionally shortchanged a woman” and went on to berate me for not hanging out with “more regular guys or at least do a little homework first,” gave me some advice about how to run my life, and then commented on my “feelings of inferiority.” He thought that being patronized was an experience a woman chooses to, or could choose not to have–and so the fault was all mine. Young women subsequently added the word “mansplaining” to the lexicon.
When I wrote the essay below, I surprised myself in seeing that what starts out as minor social misery can expand into violent silencing and even violent death.
Last year’s Nobel Peace Prize went to women, two Liberians and a Yemeni, “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” Which is to say, that safety and full participation is only a goal.
— I still don’t know why Sallie and I bothered to go to that party in the forest slope above Aspen.
The people were all older than us and dull in a distinguished way, old enough that we, at forty-ish, passed as the occasion’s young ladies.
Even in the online gaming arena women face furious harassment and threats of assault simply for daring to participate. Real violence, the most extreme form of silencing and destroying rights, takes a far more dire toll in this country where domestic violence accounts for 30 percent of all homicides of women, annually creates about two million injuries, and prompts 18.5 million mental health care visits.
It’s in Cairo’s Tahrir Square too, brutal gender violence where freedom and democracy had been claimed.
This is a struggle that takes place in war-torn nations, but also in the bedroom, the dining room, the classroom, the workplace, and the streets.