Since I have heard this term circulating with ever more frequency, I have been reaching into my past and spreading my senses out in the present to see, if this stuff really does happen in real life. I mean, surely my friends are more enlightened than that and don't participate in this type of gender division. However, they actually do and I will illustrate 3 examples below.
Now, it is worth noting, that some of these things are likely so ingrained in society, in ourselves, that we don't realize what a negative impact we are having on our friends; on the people around us for whom we care the most.
The "official" definition of mansplaining is below:
(of a man) explain (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.aa
Also interesting are the Urban Dictionary definitions, none of which I can take seriously, but they do in a way show the defensiveness that I have just noted: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Mansplain
1. Showing superiority/knowledge
Recently, inspired by the Wonder Woman movie, one of my friends on Facebook asked people to list out other women actions heroes in Blockbuster movies. Some of the examples were Katniss from The Hunger Games, Leeloo from The Fifth Elemet, Alice from Resident Evil, the Bride in Kill Bill (and the female villains as well), Red Sonja, Lara Croft, Kate Beckinsale's character from Underworld (sorry it's early and I'm tired) etc. (Side note: I also looked up to many of these characters. They have definitely inspired me to be stronger, more badass and more martial in my own life).
While most people of both genders were providing example, on man went on to note: "I don't really think many of these women are heroes because they are motivated by revenge, anger or selfishness whereas Wonder Woman is the true hero because she's motivated by righteousness." Um...excuse me? Should I begin to list out all the awesome male action heroes that aren't motivated by righteousness, yet are still admired? Oh wait....I don't have that much time this morning. 'Splained like a true man...
2. Taking credit for other's accomplishments in the form of words
I'm sure if I polled women, many of them would come back with experiences like this next one: You're telling a story of something crazy, scary, awesome that happened to you and a man keeps talking over you to explain the same story. This includes your opinions, feelings or even words of the story when you told it before. This is one of the most frustrating things that I experience. I am telling a story, trying to get to the big reveal, and someone keeps talking over me and ruins it or gives away the reveal before I get there.*
Now, on some levels, I get this - if you share an experience with someone you both want to talk about it. But I have had times where I did something cool and as I was trying to explain that to someone, a guy would totally butt in and explain the cool thing that I did. Way to steal my thunder.
This is also relating to women in the professional field who have had their research, articles, proposals, or accomplishments explained back to them. There are some great articles online like this one that lists examples of these.
*Note: This is not just exclusive to men, however, I have found that guys do it more. Especially past boyfriends.
3. Explaining your feelings to you
This last one is probably the most personal AND the most insinuating. It happens primarily in relationships, but also possibly in mentor-student relationships or elder-younger ones (parenting), and again, is not exclusive to men. However, in my past relationship experiences, I have seen this happen A LOT and it took me a long time to realize what was happening.
This is when a partner tells you how you should/need to or shouldn't/needn't feel. I say that this is very characteristic of men because when a heterosexal couple argues it frequently goes something like this:
Woman: "I feel X. I need X." or sometimes (not the best strategy but) "You make me feel like X".
"You don't need me to validate your opinion."
"You should not have to be told you're beautiful to believe it."
"You need to feel more OK with yourself."
"You shouldn't need to hear 'I love you' to know I love you."
The more I was told this stuff in my early relationship life, the more I internalized it. Then, the more internalized it got, the worse I began to feel about myself. When I finally realized what was happening, it took me a looooooong time to crawl out of the hole I dug and admit to myself, "you know what? I have needs and these are what they are...."
Yep, I was lying to myself. For years. As it turns out that I do need validation. I need you to tell me that I am beautiful and to be excited for me when I have a good idea. Even if you don't care. A good partner will understand that and a bad partner will tell me that I am overreacting. This is now my test. (And yes, in case you are wondering, James passed.) :-)
Funny thing, as I was writing this, I started to wonder if I was womansplaining this whole issue (is that really a thing?) but then I realized that I don't care. This is something that needs to be said because, as I said in the beginning, I firmly believe that not a lot of people really realize they are doing it.
So, pay more attention - if you are a woman and see this happening, call it out! If you are a dude and see this happening, call it out! And if, as a guy, you catch yourself doing these things, just stop. Apologize. And move on...while not doing it again.