Yeah, I know you were saying something, but this is important. Have you heard the news about Vox? It just happened, so let me tell you: The recently founded media company -- its stated mission is literally to explain the news -- banned mansplaining in its new code of conduct.
Vox labeled it a "specifically unwelcome behavior," along with using phrases like "well, actually," interrupting people while talking and assuming you know everything about a topic. Harassment and discrimination are prohibited, of course, but so are microagressions -- more subtle insults that are often overlooked but just as harmful. No sexist jokes, derogatory language or profane jokes allowed.
"Many women and people of color in the tech industry have many tales of being either mansplained about a field in which they are experts, or else excluded from learning opportunities because a colleague wouldn’t make an effort to answer questions — don’t be that person," Vox wrote. "Remember that your colleagues may have expertise you are unaware of, and listen at least as much as you speak."
Do you even know what mansplaining is? Let me give you some context.
Mansplaining is the act of a man explaining something in a condescending way to someone who knows more about it than him. This someone is typically a woman, and this something is often a women's issue.
When you mansplain pic.twitter.com/SZBCpFVJua
— Gabriella Paiella (@GMPaiella) November 2, 2015
The term got its start in author Rebecca Solnit's 2008 essay "Men Explain Things To Me," in which, as she's talking to a man at a party about a book she recently published on photographer Eadweard Muybridge, he interrupts to ask whether she's read the new book about Eadweard Muybridge. Her book.
"Men explain things to me, and to other women, whether or not they know what they're talking about. Some men. Every woman knows what I mean," Solnit wrote. "It's the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men's unsupported overconfidence."
Are you paying attention? You need to listen to this.
Mansplaining got popular in 2012 and has remained part of the feminist lexicon, according to Salon. After the Tumblr Academic Men Explain Things To Me took off, the word was added to the Oxford online dictionary and Jezebel released tips on how to know whether you're mansplaining. ("Are you using your supposed expertise to prove something about your manhood? ... When she talks, are you listening to what she's saying or merely rehearsing your next line?")
If you're not familiar, mansplaining has also inspired spin-offs like whitesplaining -- that's when white people explain racism to non-white people -- and straightsplaining -- when heterosexuals lecture gay people on LGBT rights. Actor Matt Damon was busted for the former when he interrupted black producer Effie Brown to talk about the importance of diversity in film in September.
Some have said the concept of mansplaining speaks to a larger issue about gender inequality, or male privilege. The Washington Post published a report in October on actress Jennifer Lawrence's recent gender pay gap essay. Lawrence mentioned how she was chastised for speaking out during a meeting, and the Post reimagined famous quotes from history as if they were spoken by a woman in a meeting -- modeled so as "not to be perceived as angry, threatening or (gasp!) bitchy."
In the article, "I have a dream today!" became "I’m sorry, I just had this idea — it’s probably crazy, but — look, just as long as we’re throwing things out here — I had sort of an idea or vision about maybe the future?"
Shhh. Hold on. Let me finish.
In the meantime, Urban Dictionary's page for mansplaining became a disaster, earning huge backlash. The site claims angry women use the term now as a "get-out-of-jail-free card" whenever they're wrong about something.
Well, actually, they have no idea what they are talking about. Right, guys?