Day: November 22, 2015

Adventures in Mansplaining

(To men who are not mansplainers: I know you are out there and I promise that this is not about you. But, there are many dudes whom the shoe fits. )

  1. A while ago, I met with a visitor who had come to give a talk in a department I am affiliated with. Last minute, a new faculty member from the same department, whom I hadn’t met before and who is also a compatriot and an acquaintance of the visitor, decided to join us. I should have just canceled, but I didn’t know they knew each other and it was also last minute. Unsurprisingly, I ended up being the third wheel; while the visitor was nice and polite, the new faculty member ignored me and spoke to the visitor without so much as glancing my way. I am sure they would have preferred not to speak in English, but had to on my account. The visitor asked about some data about the campus and the city (e.g., population, size of the student body, largest department) and the new colleague either volunteered information or, whenever I managed to get a word in edgewise and provide an answer, he rushed to correct me. Not that I was incorrect, mind you, but I don’t think that mattered; he simply had to have the last word. Being new, he cannot possibly know better than me, who has been here for a over a decade, the data about this city or this university; this is  textbook mansplaining, certainly aimed at impressing his friend.  I am too old for this $hit. What a giant waste of my time.
  2. This is my all-time favorite mansplaining anecdote. Last year, I was watching a swim meet. Next to me sat a guy who was in charge of the team’s parents’ electronic communications. We spoke a few times and he identified himself to me as “a computer guy,” but never expressed an interest in what I did (likely assumed me a Hausfrau). The meet we were watching was a high-level meet for high school boys. Generally, the first six places get scored, and the scores count towards the team total, which is very important. This man’s son had just tied with another boy for first place (which is really remarkable because they time to a hundredth of a second), so I asked if they would both get the number of points for the 1st place or if they would split the scores for the 1st and 2nd place (this was his boy’s 4th year on the team, I figured the dad knew about the scoring practices). The man proceeded to teach me, speaking veeeery slowly, on what the average of two numbers is, in a language suited to 2nd-grade children, “Yes, they will both get the average of the 1st and 2nd place score, which means the two scores will be added together and divided by two, so they will both get less the 1st but more than the 2nd place.” This was so hilarious that I wasn’t even offended; I mean, what does one even say to that?