Lain­ing be damn

Herizons - - Arts & Culture -

Mansplain­ing, the manly art of help­ing women un­der­stand stuff, orig­i­nated when Re­becca Sol­nit, who was at a cock­tail party, came across a man who rec­om­mended a book on a topic about which she had pro­fessed some ex­per­tise. He hadn’t read the book, and, in fact, the book was writ­ten by Sol­nit her­self, as she tried to tell him. Still he ig­nored her, so firm was his de­sire to ap­pear more ex­pert than she. And thus, the term was coined.

An­other va­ri­ety of mansplain­ing takes the form of wordy col­umns by men who wish to con­vince women that they should not de­mand their due. The ex­act point at which mansplain­ing turns into a manologue is not pre­cisely known.

Short or long, the ob­ject of the ex­er­cise is to ex­plain the good rea­sons why women should be sat­is­fied with, if not down­right grate­ful for, their present sta­tus in life. And, un­like the Olympics, mansplain­ing does not have a women’s di­vi­sion. Let a woman try to ex­plain the bar­ri­ers in her path to be­com­ing an ex­ec­u­tive and she im­me­di­ately re­ceives the scar­let S for Stri­dent stamped on her fore­head.

Mansplain­ing has been around for­ever. It is a semi-well­known fact that Henry VIII took 29 min­utes ex­plain­ing to Anne Bo­leyn his myr­iad rea­sons for or­der­ing the re­moval of her head. He spent a mere 12 min­utes mansplain­ing the same op­er­a­tion to Cather­ine Howard, his fifth wife, be­cause she was only 21 and wouldn’t have prop­erly un­der­stood.

How­ever, changes are now oc­cur­ring at a pace that alarms the mansplain­ers ev­ery­where. In March of 2015, Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s gov­ern­ment made Ger­many the fifth Euro­pean coun­try to man­date that at least 30 per­cent of board di­rec­tor po­si­tions be held by women. Add to that the fact that top­ics such as the ubiq­ui­tous sex­ual ha­rass­ment is­sue are cur­rently front and cen­tre in print, on TV and on YouTube, and not just in North Amer­ica. Women in Mex­ico re­cently went into the streets to protest machismo and vi­o­lence against women. In France, 17 high-pro­file women (in­clud­ing In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund head Chris­tine La­garde) who have served as gov­ern­ment min­is­ters say they will no longer be silent about sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

And, of course, the more top­ics of con­cern to women— in­clud­ing ha­rass­ment, pay eq­uity and the lack of women

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.