I love the term “mansplain.” For me, it’s such a satisfying, succinct way of putting my finger on the kind of arrogance that can occur from a specific type of privilege— the privilege of living in a society where we tend to assume men know about more things or know things better than women.
To borrow from Urban Dictionary, mansplain is:
To delight in condescending, inaccurate explanations delivered with rock solid confidence of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation.
The term came into popular use after Rebecca Solnit’s 2008 LA Times article Men Who Explain Things. It starts with a very amusing story in which some boor at a party tries to educate Solnit about a new important book that came out—one that she, in fact, wrote. Many women who read the first page of the article may laugh or roll their eyes and say “that sort of thing happens to me all the time.” If you read further though, Solnit makes some deeper, compelling points about the phenomenon of mansplaining and how it is a reflection of the ugly fact that “billions of women are out there […] told that they are not reliable witnesses to their own lives, that the truth is not their property, now or ever.” This has very real consequences for women’s personal safety and livelihoods.