…ad the parts — a few of them, actually — where I used this instance to talk about a bigger picture. This is called an object lesson. Do you see what I’m doing? Do you know what a metaphor is?
Okay, please teach me.
“It’s impossible, linguistically, to accurately communicate the constant hum of minor prejudice that becomes the soundtrack to your life.”
“I cannot tell a man about the endless parade of minor indecencies, artful put-downs, implicit shushes, subtle dismissals, or friendly coercions under the cover of niceness. Without the experiences to go with it, he simply cannot understand what it’s like to be a woman.”
Are you saying that men cannot understand the way in which they are sexist?
If so, I can totally agree with that statement. Even if I think I’m on the side of equal rights, I know I’m going to make all kinds of unconscious mistakes.
So is that it? Where do we go from here? Is that the only point of the article?
I hope you won’t attack me for mansplaining, because I want to quote the work of a female professor of linguistics, Deborah Tannen, Ph.D.:
MOST men view the world as a system of hierarchical relationships where the goal is to do great things in order to climb the ladder of success (1). With this world view, masculin traits like independence, problem solving (through logic and/or imagination) and strength (no emotional vulnerabilities) would be valued.
MOST women, on the other hand, view the world as more of a networked system of relationships, where the goal is connectedness. With this female paradigm, traits like emotional openness, helpfulness, nurturing, intuition and strength (ability to endure pain without putting up walls) have the highest value.
When most guys suggest something that you already thought of, it doesn’t mean they are being patronizing or calling you stupid. It means they want to help you solve the problem.
Most guys have a hard time just sitting there with your feelings because feelings are more difficult for them to process. You need to tell them that you want them to support you emotionally, and not try to fix the problem.
Our differing styles of communication can create a lot of senseless anger, even when we are trying to be helpful. If you’re interested in reading more about Tannen’s communication styles, here’s a quick summary of some of her work. (Or you could read all her books.)
You have the right to be assertive, have your choices respected and be angry when trolls start talking trash. That doesn’t make you a “CRAZY, DOOR-OPENING-HATING, FEMINAZI.”
I’m in no way suggesting there isn’t sexism. Nor am I suggesting there aren’t a lot of guys who will react in an extreme and ugly way if you don’t give them what they want, or call them out for their behavior.
What I am suggesting is attacking men without explaining the behavior they should model, beating them up for being stupid when they ask what’s wrong or mocking them when they express emotions women often want them to express in other situations is a formula to drive us back into opposite and extreme corners.