There is a debating tactic favoured by all older sisters when they are around the age of 12 and which every younger sibling knows all too well. It would be deployed at times when the older girl was clearly in the wrong, in danger of losing an argument or simply wanted to indulge in some behavior that impacted negatively on her brother or sister. It was a particularly immature strategy which involved adopting a deliberately pompous, shamelessly arrogant and obnoxious tone and using purposefully condescending, insulting language towards her younger opponent. It would go something like this: “Oh, poor BABY! Is the widdle woo-woo gonna cwy about it? Let me kiss da booboo better!” The intention was to humiliate, degrade and convey her utter, cold contempt for the feelings and interests of the other person. Not very edifying behaviour. But hey, we’re talking about 12 year old girls. What do you expect, right?
Well, one thing I expect is that such infantile, narcissistic self-indulgence would be long outgrown by the time those petulant little girls were old enough to be employed as professional writers for major media companies. I would expect such women to hold themselves to appropriate adult-level standards of journalism and rational thinking.
Judging from this column in the Age ( link: Men, hush now. Let us womansplain it to you) my expectations were misplaced.
Keep in mind that the following lines were written by a grown woman, Jacqueline Maley… a professional ‘journalist’… who evidently thought this was an appropriate manner with which to express serious ideas to sophisticated thinking adults in a major news publication:
“Men, hush now. Let us woman-splain it to you.”
“Is there any way men can speak up about sexual harassment and the #metoo movement without sounding stupid, sexist and part of the problem?
“Man-actors, maybe it’s time for you to be quiet, dears. Look pretty, act in your action movies, dress up nicely on the red carpet, and for the moment, at least, leave the talking to the ladies.”
The fact that Jacqueline would not be embarrassed to represent the quality of her intellect with this level of rhetoric is sad. Very, very sad. That Fairfax Media would publish this juvenile tripe as legitimate, professional commentary is mind boggling.
But such is the era in which we now live. It’s why the public must come to terms with the fact that whatever social outrage the mainstream media happens to be pushing… whether it’s the now completely forgotten hysteria over Nazis popping out of the woodwork a couple of months ago or the current hysteria over sexual harassment…. the narrative is likely 1 percent related to something real and 99 percent ideologically derived, manufactured outrage driven by the media.
At least this terrible column provided the impetus for the somewhat heated exchanges below about the awful expression ‘mansplaining’… which culminated in what should be considered… in my humble opinion… the ultimate deconstruction of the shallowness of this self-infantilising, ludicrous expression.
The exchange starts with Pasha offering an excellent description of the inherent hypocrisy of using this recently invented phrase. Marcica quickly chimes in with some predictable circular reasoning to defend its use…. at which point I enter the fray in my usual demure manner. Kittie stumbles into the scene somewhat blindly… and ‘White Knight’ Campbell arrives on his steed to salvage her honour! He is quickly slapped off his saddle… at which point the main event begins with male feminist (Ughhhhh! I KNOW!) Paul’s attempt to set me straight. Enjoy! :
Pasha : The concept of “Mansplaining” epitomises sexism: it dismisses an argument based on gender of the person making it. When open, all inclusive public deliberation is rejected, only violence remains.
Marcica: Wrong. Mansplaining is a patronising explanation not a difference of opinion.
– Going to Getugly: Marcica, “mansplaining” is a silly, generic slogan used by under confident women who can’t tolerate having their sense of their own authority challenged. It’s self-infantilising. Calling it “a patronising explanation” reflects your sense of your own subordination in the dynamic.
Kittie: In your opinion.
– Going to Getugly: “In your opinion”? What kind of thinking adult’s response is that?
Campbell: See that there? Textbook patronising.
– Going to Getugly: No Campbell. ‘That there’ is a valid question in response to a childish rebuttal.
This is “textbook patronising”: “Oh no! I think he’s patronising someone! I’m going to signal my virtuousness and post a comment about it… as opposed to using reason like an adult to address the points he raised!”
Kittie: You raised no valid points….just more mansplaining.
– Going to Getugly: That’s a great example of what this silly ‘mansplaining’ slogan is really about. In this context, “You raised no valid points” means ” I don’t like what you’ve said but I have no rationally valid reason to take issue with it…. so, “mansplaining”.
Paul: Someone please explain to this guy what mansplaining actually is
– Going to Getugly: Paul, I’m sure you will get all the pats on the head from feminists that you’re clearly looking for by so randomly signalling your submissiveness to their childish concepts. Here’s an idea… instead of reasoning like a feminist and making snarky emotional comments…. why don’t you make an effort to demonstrate that you can think like a grown man? Why don’t you explain what “mansplaining” actually is? Wouldn’t that be simpler?
Paul: jeez m9[sic] settle petal. As was stated above, it’s explaining something to a woman because you think as a woman she doesn’t understand the concept even though she may be inherently more qualified than you (yeah I know right, women can be more qualified than men for a given task? Mind-blowing stuff) and what do you mean by ‘looking for feminists?’ I hope you’re not implying (like so many do) that I just say these things to ‘get laid’ because that is not a motivator for morality for me.
– Going To Getugly: Okay… so you are repeating the generic justification that women who use the ridiculous expression always use.
And according to your own definition, the premise of ‘mansplaining’ relies entirely on the woman attributing motives to a man who doesn’t agree with her or who fails to tell her she’s correct. The motive being attributed is that the man believes the woman doesn’t understand something based exclusively on the fact that she is a woman.
Tell me, how does the woman know that this is the man’s motive?
How does she objectively single out that one motive in particular from every other potential motive he could have for not agreeing with her? How does she know that he wouldn’t say the same thing to another man? How does she know that he doesn’t genuinely just think she is incorrect? What objective metrics is the woman employing that provides her with such an unobstructed view into the soul of another person that she can so definitively proclaim to know his deepest motivations in this situation?
Of course, the only motives that the woman is actually capable of knowing are her own. But that requires not only the capacity for self-awareness and honest self-critique… but also an active interest in knowing to what degree one’s own motivations are particularly virtuous.
Would it not be wise and far more mature for her to scrutinize her own motivations for how she is reacting before reflexively concerning herself with inventing motivations for the other person?
For instance, how certain is she that it’s not her own ego…. not his… that is too fragile to handle being challenged by the opposite sex? Perhaps she is simply having a negative emotional reaction to a man disagreeing with her and is indulging in pettiness by applying a convenient label to him to compensate for her own insecurity and wounded pride? Has she thought about that?
Has she given serious thought to the fact that attributing sinister motives as an explanation for someone disagreeing with you is a purely subjective, self-serving form of circular reasoning and is logically fallacious?
Has she reflected on the fact that she is a total hypocrite for trying to undermine the man’s point of view by using a demeaning phrase to dismiss it based entirely on his gender? Isn’t that what she is accusing him of doing and condemning him for it?
Frankly Paul, since it’s safe to say that none of this has ever occurred to the women who have latched onto this dumb slogan… I’m equally confident that none of that has occurred to you either.
Ultimately, this is a reflection of much bigger and pervasive problem: There are too many intellectually lazy people these days who uncritically and reflexively internalise fashionable, ideologically derived concepts which are propagated by the mass media… and who mistake that for being intellectually and ethically sophisticated.
In other words… ‘If I believe what is popular to believe that makes me good.’
I would recommend cultivating an instinct for autonomous critical thinking as the antidote.
Finally, you write, “I hope you’re not implying (like so many do) that I just say these things to ‘get laid’ because that is not a motivator for morality for me.”
I have no idea what you do to ‘get laid’ nor is it a subject in which I have any interest.
I do believe however that you have acquiesced to conditioning that is telling men they are obliged to be submissive to women in general and feminist ideology in particular if they want to consider themselves ‘moral’.
Oh yeah… and Paul did in fact get the pat on the head he was looking for:
Vee: Paul , lovely to hear a voice of reason in amongst the twerps. Thanks