Last Thursday, a man (who we’ll call Jack) put me in my “place.”
I am a writing tutor at the Learning Center and was assisting a female student, who asked me if there were any computer tutors on campus to help her prepare for the technology proficiency test. I told her there were none, but that I could help her.
Jack overheard this conversation, and proceeded to intervene. In front of the female student, he asked with a smirk of disbelief on his face, “Wait, did YOU even pass the technology proficiency test?”
Jack has no knowledge of my GPA nor my background experience with computers, yet was surprised I passed the technology proficiency test.
I mean, gee Jack, when an on-duty tutor offers a student help on a subject, it is usually assumed the tutor knows what they’re talking about.
This little scenario reflects a much larger problem in society: male condescension and “mansplaining.”
I know, I know. That dreaded “feminazi” terminology. But we need to talk about mansplaining — when a man speaks to a woman about a topic while assuming that the woman he is speaking to is ignorant about said topic. I am fed up with men thinking they inherently know more than me because they have a penis and I don’t.
If you’re a woman who pays attention, you know what I’m talking about : the “honeys” and “sweethearts” spewed by your male co-workers and the over-zealous explanations of topics you yourself are an expert in.
These subtle acts of sexism encompass our daily life and affect our self-confidence, because as a society we value the male opinion over the female one.
I’ve seen it across campus in student organizations and at work; a man will attempt to discredit a female leader by implying she is not knowledgeable enough just because he is uncomfortable with having a woman in a position of authority.
If you see mansplaining or other forms of sexism, call it out. It is these microaggressions that facilitate a culture in which a woman is taught to keep quiet and sit in the back of the room. When we shun and dismiss women, we miss out. We miss out on their ideas, their work, and their contributions that make this world just a little bit better.