I found myself at the meat counter the other day, wanting to get a specific cut of beef that I needed for my famous pot roast. This pot roast is a family recipe and I’ve made it dozens and dozens of times and, well, at the risk of sounding like a man, I would even go so far as to say that I’m an expert at it. As a woman, that felt really uncomfortable to say.
I walked up to the counter, asked for the meat, and expected the butcher to give it to me — because that’s how these things work, right? Well, the male butcher looked at me and asked me what I was using it for (as if it were his business) and then decided to give me a lecture about the damn meat. In detail. For five minutes.
He went on and on about how I should use it and what I could and could not do with it. Eventually, I did get the piece of meat I wanted, but I walked away feeling like I wanted to thrust it right up his mansplaining butt.
I get it, butcher man, you are a butcher and therefore, you know more about meat than I do. But I freaking knew what I wanted and I didn’t need an explanation from you about it. Here is an open letter to you Mr. Butcher and all of the other mansplainers out there.
Dear Mansplainers of the World,
I realize that, as a woman, I don’t talk as much in work situations. I’m not as direct, I apologize more, I self-censor, and I use conversational fillers such as “um” and “like” much more than you. It’s been shown that I do this because my threshold for what I think is offensive is lower than yours. As a typical woman, I’m a bit of pushover with communication. But (here I go again) I’m sorry and I’m working on it. That’s my last apology. I swear.
But you have to stop with the mansplaining. The term “mansplaining” was originally coined by Rebecca Solnit in her 2008 essay, Men Explain Things To Me, and can be described by what you do, as a man, when you talk on and on because you don’t think that I can understand something because I’m a woman.
For instance, as a mother of two, you probably wouldn’t be able to explain to me what childbirth is all about. Or breastfeeding a baby piranha. Or why I’m feeling a certain feeling and what to do about it. Or even how to make my famous pot roast. But men have tried to explain all of these things to me over the years.
Mansplaining is like the male ego given a voice and that voice has many many things to tell you, even if you’ve just shown your expertise on that very matter. It’s happened to me at writers conferences, while driving, in the classroom, the meat counter, and too many times to count when I worked in a hospital. Male doctors just love to mansplain things to female physical therapists about how best to get someone to move, when getting people to move is literally my expertise.
Sometimes, men of the world, my husband even accidentally mansplains something to me. And because we’ve been married for 15 years, I know he’s not doing it on purpose. For instance, I might tell him I’m feeling sad and then he goes into a long explanation. He will say I’m feeling sad because I need to exercise or get more sleep or be tougher on the kids, and then he will tell me exactly how I can do better. This never really goes that well for him, because I don’t need to be mansplained to, I just need to say that I’m feeling sad.
So please understand, mansplainers, that my brain works really well. I know about a lot of things, even if I’m not shouting about all that I know to everyone who can hear me.
I have lived on this planet for 40 years, and if I want your opinion on my pot roast, I will ask for it.