“Mansplaining” is a word that resonates with many women. It refers the experience of a man deciding to “clarify” a technical topic to a woman, usually in overly simplified terms, based on his assumption that – being a WOMAN – she just wouldn’t understand. It can be infuriating to women in STEM fields, and sometimes creates a comic moment, as writer Rebecca Solnit described (a man explained the content of her book in simplified terms, not realizing that she was the author).
Now, a lot of that tendency in men stems from their long experience having to simplify their area of study or work to people who truly are clueless about any aspect of it. After a while, they assume that a woman will generally have little understanding of their work, and make an effort to explain it in terms they might be able to relate to.
So, not evil, just not taking the time to check on background before launching into a soliloquy. I’ve occasionally experienced it, and can be annoyed (once refusing to buy a computer from a guy who was informed I was the person purchasing it, who addressed his spiel at my husband – who really didn’t know much about tech specs).
The one that I find the most insulting are those who – having recently ‘transitioned’ from male persona to female – decide to lecture me about being a woman. THEIR understanding about that status so recently assumed is considered the Gold Standard on Feminity.
I’m fine with someone talking about THEIR personal experiences in navigating the world in female appearance, as opposed to their previous experience as a man. That draws upon their own areas of understanding.
I’m not at all happy to be TOLD what women think, feel, or experience, by someone whose experiences are relatively recent, and don’t include the norms of female body shape and size, muscular weakness, puberty changes, menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. Not every woman experiences all of these, but most have some knowledge of most of them.
And, contrary to stereotype, not all women have similar emotional, mental, or academic functioning. We’re human, and, like all humans, we are BOTH a product of our genetics and our environment. And, for that matter, of our time period and the norms of that time.