I never gave all that much thought to mansplaining until recently. I’d picked up on the word and knew what it meant but that was about it. I couldn’t even remember running into it all that much with the notable exception of a then-husband (who shortly became an ex-husband) telling me that giving birth can’t possibly hurt all that much and I should stop making a big deal out of it. But we didn’t even have the term “mansplain” back then. He was just a horse’s ass.
Until Manny McMansplainer came to work for me a few weeks ago, not hired by me but under my direction and my training, in what is now a two-person office. You have no idea how much I wish for a third person now, as both a foil and a witness.
And just in case you’ve been living in a cave (which sounds marvellous and I’m jealous), or you pay zero attention to the latest buzzwords (very sensible), mansplaining is when a man explains something to a woman in a manner that is condescending, patronizing, and often about which she knows as much or more than he does. Examples include a man telling a woman something about her own body or experiences as a woman, or explaining a basic principle of motion to a woman, because a pretty little thing like her would certainly know nothing about that, no matter that the pretty little thing has a doctorate in astrophysics.
HIM (THE NEWBIE): We can hook up this other computer and get it working. I’ll go ahead and do that for you.
ME (THE OFFICE MANAGER): We can’t hook it up yet. We need another switch. I’ve ordered one.
HIM: There’s one in that spare box of cables and stuff.
ME: That’s a router. I’ve discussed it with I.T. and have ordered a switch.
HIM: [without warning, unplugs my network thus zapping my unsaved spreadsheet out of existence, rummages through the McGuyver box, bangs around under my desk, unplugging things and plugging them in again, for several minutes]
ME: [sits back from my desk, arms folded tightly across my chest, sipping tea, tapping my foot, watching in amused and judgmental silence]
HIM: [backs out from under my desk, bumping his head hard enough that I hope for blood]: Huh. This isn’t a switch. It’s a router. We need a switch.
ME: Yes. I know.
HIM: Well. Huh.
ME: Fucking wanker. [I didn’t actually say that.]
ME: Please feed documents in the scanner in groups of no more than 10. There’s a glitch in the FTP that means I often have to manually correct dozens of them after they’re scanned in. Feeding small batches is a good workaround for that.
HIM: But the paper feeder takes up to 50 pages.
ME: The paper feeder isn’t the issue. The FTP is the issue. It glitches with large batches of papers and takes me a lot of time to fix manually. I need papers scanned in bunches of 10 so it doesn’t do that.
ME: File Transfer Protocol. If papers are scanned in smaller batches it’s less likely to glitch and I spend much less time making manual corrections.
HIM: Well, I don’t see why. The paper feeder takes 50. [puts a bonkzillion papers in feeder and presses the start button]
ME: [presses the cancel button and pulls papers out] I. Said. Scan. Them. In. Batches. Of. Ten. That’s how I want it done.
HIM: [sulks rest of day]
ME: What are you, six? [Okay, I didn’t really say that either]
HIM: This subpoena came back from skip trace asking you if we can serve this guy at this local address if the resident has power of attorney, but the guy actually lives in another state.
ME: I don’t believe we can. Please email in-house counsel and explain the problem, see what he says.
HIM: Well, I think we can serve it.
ME: Why do you believe that?
HIM: Well, whenever service members are deployed–deployed is when you’re sent from your home base to actual action–
ME: I know what deployed means.
HIM: Oh, good. They have to sign a power of attorney before they ship out.
HIM: And part of my job in the Army was to pull power of attorney from soldiers’ files and transmit then to JAG. JAG is the legal department.
ME: I know what JAG is.
HIM: [in aren’t-you-a-clever-girl tone] Excellent!
HIM: That’s what I did.
ME: One issue we have here is venue. Generally collections cases have to be filed in the jurisdiction where the defendant lives. If this guy doesn’t live in this state, the plaintiff’s attorney may have to dismiss the case and refile it in the proper court.
HIM: Well, if he’s in the military, he might not live where his home of record is.
ME: Correct. Serving someone on active duty has special procedures. My process servers have good relationships with the base legal departments. But we don’t even know if this defendant is in the military, and we don’t know what powers this POA grants.
HIM: Power of attorney gives the person power to do anything the person themselves could do. We can serve this on the POA.
ME : Of course. Please, allow me to bow down to your superior expertise, since you used to pull documents out of a drawer and mail them somewhere else and now you’ve worked here for five whole weeks.
[Okay, that’s something else I didn’t really say]
ME: [dead stare]
ME: Well, Mr. Manny McMansplainer. I’ve been a certified paralegal for more than 20 years. I’ve drawn up and worked extensively with estate planning and powers of attorney, including general ones, durable ones, durable general ones, health care ones, limited ones, special ones, and springing ones. I’ve worked on contracts and on breach of contract and money damages cases, both plaintiff and defense. I’ve arranged for service of process for hundreds of cases and ascertained it was done correctly. I’m well-versed in the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act, the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, and state law on process service. I’ve run this branch office of our litigation services company by myself, with glowing reviews, for several years. And with all that, I am still not expert to make the call on this situation. It needs to be handled by someone who’s actually licensed to practice law. Please kick it up to in-house counsel.
ME: I hate you.
[Okay, I didn’t actually say that either. But I thought it REALLY REALLY REALLY LOUD.]
And then there’s general rudeness, which may be misogyny or may be simple douchiness but given his other propensities, I’m going with more mansplaining. He talks over me when I’m conversing with one of my process servers. When I’m on the phone with someone, he comes over and leans in close to the mouthpiece and starts talking very loudly, interjecting himself into a conversation he could only hear one side of.
I have not simply put up with it. I have been assertive and direct. “Please don’t do that” and “Actually, that’s not correct” and “I was talking, and I’m going to finish what I was saying” do not penetrate beyond the moment.
My dutiful and devoted son, Monster, has promised that in the event I snap , he will establish a GoFundMe for my legal defense.
Please be generous, dear readers.
I love this mansplaining skit with Hillary Clinton and Jimmy Kimmel. Hillary, you have a fun, sharp sense of humor and I wonder if you’d have appealed more if you’d let it show more. Really. You should smile more, hon.
(In case the video doesn’t stay embedded, which happens to me all the time in WordPress, here’s the link.)