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Power outage rocks campus
Power outage rocks campus
Jack Brandt September 13, 2023

Thirty Five Years of Mansplaining

A term coined among feminists lately is ‘mansplaining’. Mansplaining is when a man explains something to a woman that she already knows, assuming that the woman in question is too inferior to have the same level of competence as him.
During the first presidential debate of the 2016 election Donald Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton 26 times within the first 25 minutes of the debate, and 51 times overall, forcing every woman who has ever been mansplained to by a man in professional context to cringe.
During the midst of interruptions and actual questions being answered, Anne T. Donahue, writer for publications such as Rookie Magazine and the Guardian, took to Twitter (@annetdonahue) to make a quick quip. There she posted a picture of Hillary Clinton poised at the microphone looking, well… fed up, with the caption “FACT: by age 18, all women have mastered this expression in response to braving the many temper tantrums of misogynistic, domineering men”.
Although I laughed and immediately recognized Ms. Clinton’s expression as one me, and many of my femme-aligned peers, are wont to mimic during various lectures and classes, it sparked a response: not only must women often endure the temper tantrums and mansplaining of their male colleagues, but they must do it with a calm demeanor never expected from those same male colleagues.
Many other femme-aligned writers, actors, and comedians took to social media to express the same disdain for this blatant double standard. Alexandra Petri (writer for the Washington Post @petridishes) tweeted, “finally the whole country will watch as a woman stands politely listening to a loud man’s bad ideas about the field she spent her life in”, comically reiterating Donahue’s opinion.
Throughout the entirety of the debate, Donald Trump spoke over Clinton, interrupted her, ignored the bell signaling that time is up, and yes, mansplained to her. Donald Trump, a man known for his “business expertise” explained the field of politics and how to be a successful politician to Clinton, who has been involved in politics for 35 years.
In no ring, be it a presidential debate or a classroom, would a man patronize another man like that. But when you are femme-aligned, you must not only put up with being patronized, you must do so with a certain pleasantness (we all know women who don’t take kindly to being bullied are too aggressive to hold an office of importance).
“I have a much better temperament than she does” insisted Trump during the debates, right before yelling and going over his allotted time to speak. Hillary only smiled politely and said “ok!”, keeping her cool in a way Trump has never even attempted.
And how many times did Clinton interrupt? Zero.
Every femme-aligned profesor, doctor, lawyer, and other professional have had enough collective experiences of this kind of steamrolling behavior from a man to find moderator Lester Holt’s silence enormously frustrating. Maybe, had Donald’s interruptions been substantial, they could have been overlooked. But each interruption lacked more fact than the previous one.
Donald’s continually mansplained Hillary’s own profession to her. He then backed up his “knowledge” with false claims, such as that he opposed the Iraq war from the get go (Donald may have forgotten that his tweets that say otherwise still exist), effectively making every femme-aligned person watching the debate feel uncomfortable. Most likely, because they have had to endure a similar, if not watered down, form of that condescension and mansplaining.
Although Hillary had her own missteps (in response to a question about race, she spoke about crime, making a race-crime connection that was never part of the question), she was composed, coherent, and dignified in the face of childish provocation. Donald’s interruptions became so ludicrous that at one point Hillary said “I have a feeling that by the end of this evening, I’m going to be blamed for everything [negative] that’s ever happened.” Donald quickly beat her to the end of her sentence by responding “why not” with the cavalier, snarky taunt of a playground bully. When he descended into a critique of Clinton’s “look and stamina” it became a thinly veiled sexist rant.
Though Donald’s unsophisticated poise may have cost him the debate, too often other men benefit from comparable tactics. While Donald, ever a poster child for sexism, smiled (grimaced?) at the podium, pleased of his provocative and misogynistic nature, Hillary kept a tight-lined smile. Women are socialized to accept, and even expect this kind of behavior from men.
We are told to stay pleasant and agreeable in the face of pure sexism. And when we are mansplained to, we are expected to be quiet and grateful for the free, unsolicited lecture we are being given. Whether you support Hillary Clinton or not, you must recognize not only the double standard she faces, but how she faces it with grace.

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Thirty Five Years of Mansplaining