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!