Word Nerd

Word of the Week: Mansplaining

The word of the week is: Mansplaining. It is a portmanteau of the words ‘man’ and ‘explaining.’ It is generally defined as “to explain something to someone, typically a man to woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.”

Lots of men ‘mansplain’ to one another without condescension. When present, it often goes unnoticed or unacknowledged. As such it’s often unlabeled and just considered a normal part of conversation. To rise to a level that requires a label, the explaining has to be done without regard to the fact that the explainee knows more than the explainer. This is too often done by a man to a woman.

A term like mansplaining points to the subtle forms of sexism that permeate our society. It can also be a way to lob an ad hominem attack to shut down debate. Because of this, the term has recently taken on a more pejorative connotation.

Mansplaining Illustrated

Below is a Twitter conversation that illustrates the way mansplaining often plays out. In this case it backfires spectacularly.
Mansplaining Backfire

Quartknee is an internationally beloved author, storied entertainer, and legendary night-life impresario. He’s also a prominent aesthete and all around tall guy.