Laining be damn
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