I happened to comment on a post about "mansplaining", asking if there's anything a man could comment there without being dismissed as an instance of mansplaining.The amount of negativity a man earns by just virtue of being a man is... overwhelming.
I wonder, would it be easier to make the world a better place for women if every conversation about issues that primarily affect women would not be so overwhelmingly targetted against men (as opposed to the problematic behaviour itself, even if that behaviour is exhibited by the majority of men)? In other words, if a man chooses to try to make a difference (which every man should!), would it be more productive to offer retribution for the rest of his ilk and his/their past behaviour, or support?
And if it's not clear if a man actually exhibits the behaviour being discussed, would it be more productive to give the man the benefit of the doubt before coming to that conclusion? Or does the generalization make things easier to discuss, and making a few men feel bad for no fault of their own acceptable collateral damage?
The responses to the comment led me to conclude a few things:
- Mainsplaining is so common that many women do not feel the need to quallify their statement about men
- Mansplaining is so common that some (many?) women do not even realize it - they simply assume men know more
- Most men and women fundamentally disagree when it comes to "can we talk about a problem without trying to solve it?"
- The women involved consider "shut up if it doesn't refer to yourself" as a valid approach to take. It appears the men involved (myself included) do not. Is that because we're muddying the waters? Is that because the majority of men who'd comment on such a post are the ones who are either not guilty or blind to their faults?
- When men do the gender-neurtal equivalent of mansplaining to other men, they are simply branded condescending (or, as one man would say to another: a dick). And it happens a lot, and men either ignore it or call it out and move on.
- I need to stop taking claims about "men" personally, as I would be as guilty of inflicting collateral damage on women who have been at the receiving end of this sort of behaviour far too often for far too long.
I have not concluded whether retribution or support is the most productive line to take though. It's unlikely I will be able to make that decision.