It was simple, really.
I was sitting outside of a coffee shop, grinding out page after page of this book I've been ghostwriting, when my thoughts were sudenly interrupted.
"Is this your dog?"
"It is!" I exclaimed. "I think she's confused right now. Normally, there are lots of people sitting out here, and they pet her and feed her table scraps. But today, because of the rain, it's just me."
He smiled. "Cool. What kind of dog is she?"
"She's an Australian shepherd mix. Whatever she is, she's super smart. She knows every store on University with dog treats behind the counter -- and she can even tell who works there and who is just shopping."
"They let you do that? Take her to stores with you?"
My turn to smile. "Are you from the Midwest?"
"Because my family says the exact same thing."
He seemed pleasant enough as we talked a bit about the Midwest. Soon, we realized we both worked in college admissions. I thought it would be fun chat with someone who does what I do -- compare notes. That sort of thing.
But at that moment, the conversation promptly shifted from us talking to him talking. At me. It was like a parody of everything I've seen on social media and feminist websites.
(Strangely, some people don't "believe in" mansplaining. There are too many studies on this for me to agree -- that said, not all of the studies are good studies. And not every study proves that men are the problem. I think that women would benefit tremendously from doing some assertiveness training, and/or actively working on speaking up more clearly and more often.
Also, "mansplaining," to me, means a pretty specific thing: in Bachman's words, "It's when a man condescendingly [or perhaps self-righteously] explains something to a woman that she already knows."
It does not mean, "When a man expresses a different opinion from a woman." And it doesn't mean, "When a man asks for or uses evidence to dispute a woman's opinion or 'lived experience.'"
Here's a video that discusses a few studies -- I post it with hesitation, because I'm not wild about every study mentioned. We can discuss them in the comments, if you're interested.)
Compounding the humor of the situation was the fact that this kid was like 23.
He started explaining all the hard work he does every spring, summer, and fall to recruit new students (I no longer actively recruit students; they come to me, and I accept them if I have space) and how to negotiate rates (he's charging about a third of what I charge).
I listened, because I was curious. I know I'm great at what I do, but I'm not so arrogant as to think I can't learn anything from other people...
But then he started talking about his refund policy.
Refund policy? What on earth is this guy doing that people want refunds? Who is he working with?
Suppressing a yawn, I made a suggestion:
"Double your rates and stop negotiating with people. You'll make the same amount of money in half the time."
This made him flustered and defensive; he started talking really quickly. And then -- he asked me a question.
"How much do you charge?"
It's not a question I love answering, but it's not like my rates aren't clearly listed on my website, so I told him.
"How can you charge that much?!" he exclaimed.
"Because I --"
And then he kept talking... until he asked again, "How can you charge that much?!"
And then he talked some more. So I interrupted him and said,
"Do you want me to answer the question, or do you want to just keep talking?"
And, guess what? After that, he stopped mansplaining and manologuing. I took the moment to rehash some of the points I made in When People Tell Me My Rates Are High, I Tell Them, "That's Because I'm Worth It."
He listened thoughtfully. We didn't suddenly agree on anything -- in fact, we still disagreed on pretty much everything. But at least now, he was aware of his obnoxious behavior, and he'd stopped it, and we could just have a normal, two-sided conversation.
Was it "rude" to say what I did? I don't think so. It was direct, but not rude.
But perhaps you disagree. On the topic of being rude, I recommend The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Gif ALL Women Need to See ASAP:
You definitely think it's a lot "ruder" than it is. Direct and rude aren't the same thing. And when your health or safety are on the line, there is no such thing as "rude." There is only healthy and safe.
One thing that is clear from both research and the viral stories that are resonating with so many women right now, from Cat Person to the Aziz Ansari night from hell, is that many women are horrible at being "rude" -- aka, direct, clear, and assertive.
Women are horrible at saying no, whether to friends or sex partners or coworkers or at a PTA meeting.
Women are taught to "be nice," even when doing so puts them in danger.
Many women don't even feel comfortable asking a stranger who just put his arm around her, "Why are you touching me? You don't even know me!" Or simply: STOP touching me." (It's a phrase that will instantly make your whole life better.)
So it's like, yeah. Aziz probably shouldn't have been so obnoxious and grabby. But "Grace" could have used her words to keep herself from having "one of the worst nights of her life."
And, yeah. My mansplainer probably shouldn't have talked to me like I had no idea how to run my business -- which is why I used my words to make him aware of an annoying behavior and start an actual discussion.
So next time someone mansplains something to you, don't feel like you have to sit there and listen. Just say so. It's not that hard.
Do you want me to answer, or do you want to just keep talking?
I already know that -- I took Intro to Physics in middle school, too.
Can we fast-forward to the part where you're done explaining stuff I already know?
By any chance, do you spend a lot of time with children? No? Oh. I just thought from the way you explain everything...
It's funny you think you need to explain that to me, since I [qualification or experience] and you didn't.
What makes you think I don't already know that?
Wow. Don Draper, much?
Lots of guys who do rude and sexist things don't even realize they're doing it. If you point it out to them, they'll typically stop. If you're worried about seeming too "harsh" or "bitchy," I guess you can flash them a smile or something...
But if you started explaining something to them that they already knew, do you think they'd worry about seeming bitchy? No. They'd probably just say, "I already know that," like it wasn't a big deal to say so, because it's not.
3/14/2018 08:00:52 pm
9/1/2019 12:30:37 pm
As a man doing his best to educate and better myself, I appreciate this so much. I find the concept of mansplaining and its tangible existence to be pretty self evident, even without the research backing it up. But it really can feel like sometimes I'm just beaten over the head with that word if I simply have a different opinion, just as you said. Validation is a currency I try to avoid trading in generally, but this feels validating in a very welcome way. Thank you!
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Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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