The thing about mansplaining is that you can see it coming from 20 paces. In person, he generally interrupts a member of his female audience, lowers his voice so that it is gentle enough for lady ears, makes eye contact with all members of the group so that he is sure that everyone is listening to him, and then starts.Today was no different.
I was at a feminist meet and enjoying some idea-sharing and good-humoured chat. Then he started. He’s been reading a few feminist news feeds apparently, he’s been assessing the state of feminism in the US, he’s been concluding that there is very little feminism happening in the UK, and he’s been closely following the impact of the female vote in the recent US election. He explained that, what happened was (“you see”) that Romney (“you see”) was making moves to illegalise abortion and that’s what mobilised the female vote for Obama (“you see”).
It was at that point that I interrupted him. To see his genuine shock and discontent that he was lecturing someone who was clearly more informed than him, yet had no apparent need to demonstrate her knowledge as he had only moments earlier, made me chuckle and roll my eyes (inwardly, natch, I’m not a savage). That didn’t stop him, though. He went on to discuss the various waves of feminism (wrongly), state that he would not enter in a conversation about said waves when he was challenged about his inaccuracies, and tell us that one thing he thinks he should do is talk to our wider group about the feminist labour movement. By this stage, we were all ignoring him and getting on with our thing. When he was questioned on his political “involvement”, he became tight-lipped and refused to reveal anything. His confusion about the turn of events was palpable. This was not what he expected, and in his own head, not what he deserved. He stared at the women he was trying to educate and he could not believe their ingratitude. He didn’t know how to start again.
At this stage the rest of us were discussing how we would put together some flyers and other materials for our group. He was overruled on his colour choice. That was clearly the last straw. He was largely silent for the rest of the meeting. He wasn’t missed.