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What Is 'Mansplaining' and How Can Men Help Stop It

In 2010, The Times defined the mansplainer as "A man determined to explain or give his opinion on any subject, especially when speaking with a woman. He often speaks condescendingly, even if he doesn't know what he's talking about or it's none of his business".

The Woman Post | Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra

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Mansplaining can happen in any environment. At work, it can present itself as a male coworker dominating the conversation and extending its point taking input only from other male colleagues and disregarding information from female coworkers.

In entertainment, there is the famous example of Kanye West grabbing the microphone from Taylor Swift to explain why Beyoncé deserved the award and not her during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.

Furthermore, in the political arena, it was more than evident during the 2016 presidential debates, how Donald Trump repeatedly interrupted Hillary Clinton. Getting to the extreme of taking over the conversation on top of her 51 times in the first 26 minutes of the debate. A study made by The University of California found that 47 out of 48 interruptions in mixed-gender conversations consisted of men interrupting women. Another study discovered that men are three times more likely to interrupt a woman.

Also read: "WOMEN AND BUSINESS AGILITY SUMMIT 2021": LEADERSHIP AND EQUITY

Not every man does mansplaining, manologues, and manterrupting intentionally. It can be an unconscious bias, ignoring what he is doing. This makes it even more urgent to tackle these issues at the workplace, families, and friendship circles. It is a practice that can be cultural, and it's rooted in inequality. However, you can work to abolish this behavior. The Woman Post shares some recommendations that can stop these attitudes.

Like Kamala Harris did to former Vice President Mike Pence saying "Mr. Vice President, I'm Speaking," with a smile, repeated once again, "I'm speaking." This response of making evident the situation makes the perpetrator notice its behavior and hopefully grow in self-awareness. When women call out the offender at the moment the offense happens, a crucial boundary is established and it declares that you demand respect and won't accept anything less. 

Contrarily, if the situation is not raised up the man can be clueless about its disrespectful behavior, thus never change it. This would also end up in women choosing to stay silent as to why bother if you will be interrupted anyway. Maya Angelou, activist, and poet, said, "I respect myself and insist upon it from everybody. And because I do it, I then respect everybody, too."

Breaking the complicit silence is also essential to tackle mansplaining. Stopping the interrupter can help prove how rude this person is being "Wait, let her finish" or "Excuse me, I want to hear what she's saying,” are phrases that can be used to help the conversation flow. Using humor can help confront an interrupter. For example, saying "You're mansplaining me" and then explaining what happened in a funny tone can make the other person less defensive.

Finally, tools such as non interrupting norms can help ideas be much more freely shared. Glen Mazzara, a screenwriter, and producer, realized that his female writers did not participate as much or were interrupted when they did. That was why he put in place a norm of non-interruption while any creator was exposing its ideas. This worked and the team became a more effective one.