So this past week and a half has been pretty rough. I sprained my knee, and as a result I have been hobbling my way to class for the past few days. When I first injured my knee, I was prepared for how much it sucks to be on crutches and how handi-inaccessable our campus is, but I was not prepared for the worst part of this injury- ALL of the goddamn mansplaining.
For those of you who don’t know what “mansplaining” is here is the definition: “a portmanteau of the words man and explaining, coined around 2008-09 to describe a social phenomenon commonly experienced by women, whereby a man who describes some topic to a woman, habitually does so in a patronizing and condescending manner, perhaps unwittingly, and often despite having limited knowledge himself, because of the gender assumption and stereotype that a woman needs matters explained much more simply or must have far less background or technical grasp and knowledge than a man would.”
At this point, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been stopped on my way to class or work by random men who want to talk about my injury and give their input/ advice. Keep in mind that all of the men who stop me are complete strangers and their “advice” is completely unsolicited. I’ve had men stop me and tell me to adjust my crutches- one even went as far to grab my crutch (while I was leaning on it!!!) and start adjusting it for me. A lot of men stop me to ask what sort of injury I have, how it happened, and if I’m icing/elevating it. No matter what I respond to their questions, they take it as an opportunity to either 1. explain why whatever I’m doing could be improved, 2. tell me a story about their injuries and how mine isn’t as bad as their’s, or 3. diagnose my knee problem (maybe they have x-ray vision?). It doesn’t matter if I’m obviously in a hurry (although I can’t actually move that quickly), if I put on my best “resting bitch face”, or if I tell them I don’t have time to talk. Across the board, it seems that if a man has decided that I need his help, he is going to “help” me come hell or high water.
The problem with mansplaining is that in my case, and in many women’s personal experiences it is unsolicited, nonconsensual, exasperating, and frankly patronizing. Although my experience is just one instance of the mansplaining phenomena, it is something that affects women across the world on a daily basis. I’m choosing to write about my specific experience with mansplaining only within the context of my knee injury, but I’d be willing to bet that just about every woman experiences these microaggressions on a daily basis.
This post isn’t about be being ungrateful for the help and advice that my friends and peers have offered me, but instead commenting on our societal acceptance of mansplaining and other microaggressions like it. I truly want to thank the people who have helped my while I’ve been injured, but I can’t wait to get better both so that I can walk normally again, and so that I have to deal with less mansplaining on a daily basis.