Happy National Mansplaining Week!

Just kidding. Every week is National Mansplaining Week. This week I’ve just noticed it a bit more than usual.

The first example that pissed me the fuck off came from Graham Linehan, which was fairly disappointed as I’m a big fan of Black Books and Father Ted. Now, Graham reckons that sexism and misogyny aren’t the same thing, and it really gets his goat that people use them interchangeably. Now, I called him up on this, pointing out that he wasn’t quite right, and he got a bit arsey.


Despite my better instincts, I did engage on his terms, and dictionary definitions of the two were sent his way, but strangely he didn’t reply after even on his own terms he was pointed out to be wrong. And then he decided that his own opinion was far more important anyway, and blogged this, where he decided to use very cropped definitions of the words which meant what he’d decided they meant, and–literally–said Page 3 couldn’t be misogynistic because the people who like it must like women.


Our second instance of mansplaining this week comes from columnist Martin Robbins, who wrote about the No More Page Three campaign. The vexing part of this is that in places, Robbins was completely right, and to save time I’ll quote those bits.

The most disturbing thing about Page 3 isn’t the fact that there are naked breasts on it; it’s that every pair of naked breasts looks the same, expresses the same opinions, and exists in a context where the owners of naked breasts are casually belittled and dehumanised.

Personally I can’t stand Page 3, but I say the answer is more nudity in newspapers, not less. Put more boobs on Page 3, and add some cocks too. Show people of every size, shape, colour, gender and sexuality; let them speak in their own voice, and celebrate them all. That, rather than self-censorship of adult-oriented content, would be a progressive tabloid revolution worth fighting for.

For what it’s worth, I have similar reservations about the campaign, and would also like to propose that it might be nice to just get rid of The Sun entirely.

But the rest of Robbins’s article has the supercilious tone of “explaining things to the ladies” and telling us how to fight our own battles. It seethes with privilege. And had a similar argument been put across by women, it would have been much, much better. I don’t see why the New Statesman didn’t ask a woman to write about it. They’ve got a fair few on staff.

Now, I expect in the comments I’ll get a lot of men mansplaining to me why I’m wrong about mansplaining because this has happened rather a lot in the last few days. So I’m not going to let those comments out of the moderation queue, and they can scream into the void about censorship.

You might think I’m being harsh, or that I’m picking the wrong targets, or that I clearly haven’t read this one thing written by a man that explains why I’m wrong, or that there’s things far more important than calling out mansplaining to do. But do you know what? Every time a man decides to tell women what their experience is, to patronise about women’s issues from a position of relative ignorance, a woman is silenced.

No matter how much men think they’re on our side or being good allies, if they can’t pull back and say “You know what? You’re right, I don’t actually know anything about this”, they are perpetuating patriarchy.


Thanks for @FunnyGrrrl for the cap!

9 thoughts on “Happy National Mansplaining Week!”

  1. Graham Linehan has appointed himself as the Internet Police. He’s an insufferable pedant.

    Oh, and this won’t come as a surprise, he’s a redditor.

    Can we have a campaign to ban all ‘splaining? Ablesplaining is the bane of my life. Being told “It’s ok to use [ableist slur] because I’m not referring to the actual disability. Lighten up, it’s not hurting anyone!”

    As for Page 3, I haven’t seen it for years. Do they really all look the same now? That’s a shame. Breasts are fabulous, and there’s such a diverse range of them out there. They should all be celebrated. Either no boobs or all the boobs, that should be the deal.

    btw – Does NMW have an official anthem or colour associated with it? I want to raise awareness in style!

  2. I read this on my phone, and was caught by your point asking why they had not got a woman to write the article. I mean, I wrote about it 2 weeks ago (ahead of the curve there.) As the evening has gone on I have become more annoyed by the fact, was there perhaps an underlying assumption that feminists would all thing #nomorepage3 was a good thing? If that is the case it is rather disturbing.

    Even without that, editorially it surely would have been a better decision to have a woman talking about issues such as objectification rather than a man explaining to us why it isn’t.

    For the recordd I love boobs too, since that seems to be becoming relevant 😀

    1. I just scrolled back through your blog to find it and WHY HAVE I NEVER READ IT BEFORE? I am rectifying this issue right now!

      Also, yes. Absolutely this.

      1. I may have tweeted in the Hillsborough mood, sometimes I feel my class consciousnesses outweighs everything, and that was one of those moments. Not Lfc but northern working class, my hatred of The Sun goes back a long way, when they were attacking the miners I was wrapping presents for their children.An interesting way to discover there is no Santa is for your house to become the local distribution point for Christmas presents.

        1. The thing is, what you said was right. The Sun has done far, far, far more terrible things than just having a rubbish picture of boobs on one page, and the whole thing really needs to go.

          1. Have you seen the #nomore website? One of my many objections is the whole tone, would the nice man with his nice newspaper( what kind of family reads the Sun, the Wests?) please take out the pictures, and then we will all be friends and read about Kim and cellulite and the world will be perfect.

            As you might guess, I am angry, angry that women are being ghettoised again, but more angry that they are giving the sun a legitimacy no one else believes it has!

  3. So Lineham hasn’t quite grasped the link between Page 3 and violence against women: in fact he obviously can’t see that they are part of the same continuum. The continuum that results in ‘throw away women’ who end up raped, beaten and dead in a gutter. Because obviously there is no link between women being seen as sexual objects and women being treated as sexual objects. *rolls eyes*. And yes I would like to second your proposal that we get rid of the The Sun and the rest of the gutter press (Mail anyone?) completely.

  4. First time commenter here, having lurked a while and read the comments policy very carefully prior to contributing.

    Trying to word this as carefully as possible as I completely agree with everything written above and was appalled by Linehan’s ‘people who like Page 3 must like women’ idiocy. Right up there with Chris Finch from The Office, ‘How can I hate women? My mum’s one’. He thinks that sexism and hatred of women are distinct entities which is clearly ridiculous. Misogyny is a more accurate description of sexism against women than ‘sexism’.

    So my question is as follows: are sexism and misogyny necessarily the same thing? Or is it just that misogynists prefer the word ‘sexist’ because they find it more palatable?

    Linehan’s totally ignorant of his own privilege but I’m fairly new to not being a blinded by privilege myself and it’s topics such as this which can be a complete minefield. I’m well aware it’s not the duty of the marginalised and oppressed to explain to others their oppression and I’ve watched one too many (no doubt well-meaning) dudes blunder into debates on feminist blogs and make utter fools of themselves.


    They are too different things. You can be sexist and not ‘hate’ women just as you can hate women and not be sexist. I don’t see why you can’t work this out for yourself you seem quite clever, for a woman.

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