Friday, March 24, 2017

How to Handle Mansplaining at Work

mansplaining (v.) refers to a situation where a man explains something to a woman in a condescending and inaccurate manner with the assumption that she doesn't understand

manterrupting (v.) is the unnecessary interruption of a woman by a man often takes place in a work environment

Unfortunately, women are far more likely to be interrupted by men while speaking over something she already knows. I was introduced to this term when I watched Miranda's scene in Sex and the City being manterrupted during a business meeting. I thought to myself that I wouldn't let anyone mansplain me over my area of expertise... until it happened to me at work. It felt uncomfortable, insulting and immediately sent me into a fit of rage when I played the incident in my head over again. I was caught off guard by the behavior so I ignored and idly accepted it. But he continued on playing this sexist trick on me during meetings. From then on, I decided not to be nice when being shoved into silence by a patriarchal authority.

Stay calm
Being manterrupted mid-sentence presuming their greater knowledge on a given subject can be upsetting. It's tempting to just roll your eyes and give him a sarcastic smile. Speaking up can be tricky but staying silent doesn't help. If a woman gets defensive, she is accused of being "too emotional" and "the sensitive one" who allows feelings to influence reasoning.  After being mansplained, I practiced some appropriate responses expecting this would come up again at some point. You can answer back along the lines of:

"Let me finish my sentence."
"I know what I'm doing here. I got this."
"That's exactly what I said! You just repeated it."

Challenge him
If he's acting such an expert over a work you've been doing for the past five years, attack him with a lot of questions. Drop that knowledge grenade right there. Sometimes you just have to unleash your inner fierceness to shut him up. No one should feel the need to explain your own job to you.

Ignore him
It's exhausting having to deal with mansplainers all the time. A "manologue" is an unsolicited opinion so you are under no obligation to listen. Give him a disinterested nod and simply walk away. Sometimes it's not worth your energy.

Call him out
If you've done several attempts to deal with mansplainers and nothing worked, well, you tried. It's time to confront him. Tell him directly that you don't appreciate being intrusively manterrupted on meetings. I've done this one to a colleague. He hit me back with "At least, I was being helpful." It's ridiculous how some men are unaware of the issue. But this doesn't mean women should tolerate privileged explaining.

Above everything else, women must learn to stand up for themselves and shut down a mansplainer. We need to break out of this sexist standard. Mansplaining remains rampant. Not just at work but it can be subtly done by those closest to us - friends and male family member. Men may not always have any intention to be rude or harmful but condescension must be stopped.

Image Source: Screenshot from Sex and the City 2


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