Ha! It’s a trick! I’m not going to defend mansplaining, or even defend defending mansplaining. I would like to suggest, however, there is a way to engage with mansplaining without losing your cool or your compassion.

Allow me to momsplain, please! I understand your discomfort, as I am a person who has had mansplaining explained to me, by a man, with a full shellacking of condescension. When someone tells you all about a subject well within your area of real or imagined expertise, it can be exquisitely uncomfortable. How dare they!

Most of us react with physical avoidance. We draw back, step away, avert our gaze or pretend to choke ourselves to restrain the internal outrage. How dare he! Doesn’t he know I went to school for twelve years to study insects? What makes him think twenty minutes of a nature show gives him dominion over dung beetle trivia?

Look. You’re not wrong. He is in error in this scenario and not only is he objectively wrong to try to instruct you, everyone else in the room who knows you knows that he’s wrong too.

It is possible to relax in your rightness. What you are experiencing instead is a reaction to some assumptions. You are assuming that he is also saying you aren’t knowledgeable, or that you are a child who needs instruction. Maybe you are even leaping into some wilder assumptions about his attempt to put you down in his unsolicited bout of explanation.

None of his mistakes are your problem, only your assumptions are your problem. Maybe you really are a child in this situation and it still pisses you off to have an adult assume you don’t understand, or somehow forgot, how dung beetles handle politics. How dare they!

Instead of buckling into your outrage, you can just blink into accepting the one fact in front of you: he seems confused. That’s all. You are not required to straighten him out or mansplain right back. You could ask him a deep question if you want to be mean about it, but really it might be better to let the interaction expire if it makes you uncomfortable.

If you talk, you say dumb things, so don’t think you are exempt from mansplaining.

Maybe you thought you were educating someone.

Maybe you have a very specific crossed wiring and it means you understand things better by explaining them out loud to another person. Oh. Wait. That sounds like therapy.

Maybe explaining in order to better understand is pretty normal and ordinary. Maybe you are doing them a favor by letting them unravel before your eyes. You could even hold space for the ‘splainers. Perhaps only on Wednesdays. It’s up to you.

Carry on!! With love!!

Love,
yermom

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