Saturday, October 7, 2017

On Mansplaining

I attest to being a know-it-all. At varying points in my life, I've either embraced that facet of my personality or struggled mightily to reign it in. If you have a career in education,  I lean more toward being helpful than condescending, though I can see how that might get misinterpreted. My first impression can be scattershot, the pitfall of a life of social awkwardness, and when I make a positive impression its an uphill battle to sustain that.

Last weekend, an old acquaintance called me out for mansplaining on Twitter. In a tweet, she openly pondered about how Spotify developed their new yearbook playlist option, and I replied with a facetious "Um, a calendar?" Her response was vexed and not without justification; it was a lazy response. When she replied on Twitter, I DM'd her on Facebook as soon as possible to apologize. I had lost her follow, and she called me out for being condescending in the past. I couldn't remember any specific details our last Twitter interaction (I want to say it was two years prior) but I wasn't going to fight her accusation. We're still Facebook friends, at least for now.

I spent the next day or two trying to remember past instances of mansplaining, both with this woman and others. Part of me was trying to break this down from an individual standpoint, while also acknowledging my own shortcomings. Was she just in a bad place, did she confuse me for someone else, a personality clash, or was this part of a greater problem? I had met this woman through improv, and even though I try to treat collaborators, friends and acquiantances as equals, I can slip. Mansplaining, rooted in sexism, is pandemic in our community and only gradually getting resolved.

Regardless, whether or not a similar incident happens on Twitter, I will make a more conscious effort to change. For now, I'll leave her alone, and pretend the altercation never happened.


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