Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Facebook Annoyance: The Mansplaining Edition!

Facebook is continuing to be the bane of my existence. For every good experience I have with it, comes about 5 horrible ones. I'm really beginning to think I should quit it all together. Too bad I'm hopelessly hooked on being one click of a button away from knowing what all my friends are doing...

Plus, look what great blog fodder Facebook is giving me! So much that "social media" is now its own tag. Hooray?

Anyway, the latest incident involves some pretty heavy mansplaining and the justification of sexist language. Which made me realize that I haven't ever really written about mansplaining before...which is kind of incredible since I, like every outspoken woman, encounter it on an almost daily basis. 

So let's take a look at what mansplaining is. Shakesville has a pretty good definition of overall 'splaining:
Splaining—[Privilege]splaining is when a person of privilege condescendingly tells an unprivileged person something zie already knows, particularly something about zie's own life and/or identity, e.g. a man mansplaining what it's like to be a woman to a woman. [Privilege]splaining is that delightful mixture of privilege and ignorance that leads to condescending, inaccurate explanations, delivered with the rock-solid conviction of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course [the privileged person] is right, because [zie is the privileged person] in this conversation."
Karen Healey has another really great definition that is frequentely cited:
Mansplaining is when a dude tells you, a woman, how to do something you already know how to do, or how you are wrong about something you are actually right about, or miscellaneous and inaccurate "facts" about something you know a hell of a lot more about than he does.
Bonus points if he is explaining how you are wrong about something being sexist! 
And if you'd like some further reading, you can also check out Zuska's run down of "you might be a mansplainer ifs..."

So. My recent Facebook experience went down like this. My lovely feminist friend, Jess, posted on her status that she finds the word "pussy" when used as an insult to a man, to be offensive. CUE THE MANSPLAINER! A "friend" of hers chimed with such gems as:

The last thing on my mind (when using this term) is women being second-class citizens or whatever. 
Mansplaining decoded: I don't mean it offensively so it's not offensive! DUH, silly womenz.

Plus I've heard lots of women call other females a bitch (should dogs be offended?) 
Mansplaining decoded: Women are sexist so I can be sexist! Besides, women's feelings are as important as dog's!

...or the c-word. The c-word is like, 100 times worse than pussy. Pussy just sounds hilarious to me.
Mansplaining decoded: Here, let me tell you what you should be offended by. Plus, why aren't we all just laughing?! This is funny!!! Ha...ha...ha.

Personally I think women are much more vicious to each *other* when it comes to insults...I've seen enough cattiness and backstabbing between females in my time.
Mansplaining decoded: Have I mentioned yet that women are THE ABSOLUTE WORST? I know because I have women friends. So go after other women, please. Don't ask me to examine my own misogyny.

I'm quite confident that calling a guy a "pussy" does NOT promote violence towards women...but the words "bitch" and "c-nt" do. That's the difference. No drunk bastard coward ever beat up a woman while calling her a pussy.
Mansplaining decoded: If a word isn't used while beating the shit out of a women, it's not misogynistic. DUH!!11!

And the holy grail of all mansplaining: I think you're making this out to be more than it is.
Mansplaining decoded: This is not important to me, therefore it should not be important to you. I like to keep doing what I'm doing and I don't want to be told that my words are sexist. I'd prefer if you'd just not talk about it because by talking about it other women might learn that this isn't ok and the next time I call a dude "pussy" they will see that I'm a jerk and not fuck me. So I'm going to diminish your concerns in an effort to promote my own take on the whole thing.

This whole situation is just so old. I mean, seriously--how hard is it to take a step back and actually listen to what a woman is saying to you? As I've argued countless times before, language matters and how we use it reflects upon us as people. If you want to be viewed as callous, bigoted, and ignorant, you can use whatever careless words you'd like. But that doesn't change the fact that 1) You don't get to decide what other people find offensive, and 2) You will be held socially accountable for the language you choose to employ.

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