Mansplaining and the Power of Naming

The Bias

Every few weeks, a man jumps into my mentions to ask me why “mansplaining” is a word. These conversations tend to follow a familiar pattern: multiple women respond with their own experiences of being ‘splained at, and how the word is useful to describe a particular pattern of sexist behavior. The man (sometimes several men) argues that we should just call it ‘condescension’ because (you guessed it) “not all men.” Then they’ll insist that the term “mansplaining” is a gendered slur.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that as soon as a marginalized group develops words to describe their oppression, their oppressors will label those words ‘slurs.’

We’ve seen this with a lot of terms, from claims that ‘cis’ and ‘whiteness’ are slurs to the shift in meaning by which “bullying” is now used to describe any activist labor that makes privileged people even the slightest bit uncomfortable.

This is one of the…

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