Mansplaining according to Karen is
[w]hen a dude tells you, a woman, how to do something you already know how to do, or how you are wrong about something you are actually right about, or miscellaneous and inaccurate “facts” about something you know a hell of a lot more about than he does.
Bonus points if he is explaining how you are wrong about something being sexist!
Many have objected to this formulation as sexist claiming that women do it too. Nuh uh. SKM from Shakesville explains:
[M]en’s opinions and ideas are privileged over women’s, and men often receive positive feedback for holding forth, while women tend to be punished for doing the same. Anyone who has been chastised by a supervisor for being “too aggressive” while male coworkers were praised as “go-getters” for similar behavior knows what I’m talking about.
I saw this happen at a library conference at the bar, with only six men present (authors, not librarians), three of whom managed to ignore everything said by the women present. Including stuff that was then repeated by one of the men present and then applauded. I had to get up and leave I was so annoyed. So did several of the other women. But did we say anything at the time? No, because we’ve been so carefully trained not to call men on their sexism. It would have been rude and killjoy and just the kind of thing those no-fun feminists do. So, none of us did. Oh, and one of those men later noted to me that he couldn’t believe how much one of the women authors present (who had barely managed to get a word in) had talked. No, his head did not explode.
More from SKM:
Gender-neutral words for “mansplanation”-type behavior include great terms like “rule-crapping” and “info-dumping.” As much as I like these concepts, though, they remove reference to the male privilege that makes mansplaining what it is. Mansplaining is not just holding forth; it’s holding forth by someone who has the force of society behind him. A girl or woman can be a tiresome know-it-all, but she won’t be praised and supported in her efforts while those around her are discouraged from showing her up.
Seen and experienced this too many times to recount.
There is, of course, one situation where some women do engage in a similar behaviour. It’s called whitesplaining and often involves a white person explaining to a person of colour how they are wrong about something being racist. Often the whitesplainer will twist things around so much in the process of their whitesplaining that they wind up “demonstrating” to the person of colour how they are in fact racist for having brought up the subject of racism.
No, their heads don’t explode.
Side note: Just as a general rule if you ever find yourself in a position where you are explaining to someone who has lived experience on the subject at hand when you don’t, then perhaps you might want to, you know, shut up. Also listen. Examples run the gamut from telling someone whose name is Linda that their name means “beautiful” cause you just learned that in Spanish (you know, typically, people know what their own names mean)1 through to explaining Judaism to someone who is actually Jewish2.
In conclusion: Mansplaining and whitesplaining? Don’t do it.
Before someone says so in the comments:
No one is saying that all men mansplain. Many of my best friends are men who don’t. Hell, I even married a non-mansplaining man. Nor do all white people whitesplain. I sure as hell hope I never have. But my apologies if I ever have. I know better now.