‘The Time a Man Explained Keys to Me’ and Other Impressive Mansplains
Amazingly, I have got to the age of 22 (almost) and I know how keys work
Once upon a time in a far away land, there lived a girl who existed. She wasn’t particularly stupid: she had managed to survive to adulthood, and was capable of doing her degree without any man having to help her spell her own name correctly on forms.
One day, the girl was outside her flat, opening the door as she had done a thousand times. Now, the door was a bit stiff, so it always needed a bit of a shove. A magic annoying goblin appeared behind her, staring as she jammed the key into the lock.
The magic annoying goblin decided to help. “The lock has a shape that needs to fit the key,” he explained helpfully. “It won’t open otherwise.” The girl gritted her teeth. “Yes, I know.” She said. “I know how a key works.” And with that, she opened the door all by her big grown up self and turned to shut it in his outraged face. “Wow, I was just being helpful,” said the goblin.
What a helpful goblin, boys and girls!
In what universe would an adult woman not know how a key worked. The actual fuck.
This happens to me all the time. A man kindly decides to explain something to me because obviously, as a damsel in distress, I have magically got to adulthood not knowing that a kettle needs plugging in, that you have to hit ‘send’ on an email, or what an extension cord is. This extends way, way beyond being helpful. They’d never be this helpful to another man. This is the absent minded, subconscious belief that all women are somehow dumber and more helpless than you.
Here is a list of some of the things men have kindly explained to me:
How a push and pull door works
How to dress more comfortably (no heels, who’d have thought)
How evolution works (I’m a BSc Biological Anthroplogy student, he knew this)
That wood comes from trees
That going out at night by myself in my own city is dangerous
That Noah’s Ark didn’t exist (still a BSc Biological Anthropology student)
That ovens are hot
That I’d need my passport to travel to France (no shit)
That sharks can kill people
That the election would mean a new president
‘Helpful’, ladies and gentlemen.
Amazingly, I find this very, very annoying. The endless assumption that a man is more intelligent than me, more informed on how things work or how reality functions, or even how to survive as a woman, drives me up the wall. The worst part of it is that most of them don’t even understand that what they are doing is offensive and patronising.
Usually when I point out that I probably know where wood comes from, or that I know how elections work, I am met with absolute defensiveness. They really believe that they were just explaining, and that doing so isn’t rude or demeaning. When I try to do the same back ‘I explained vaccines to a male doctor who was a repeat offender’ they look baffled and seriously hurt. But it still doesn’t get through.
Actually, it’s worse than annoying. It makes me insecure about myself, because I’m constantly wondering whether every man I work with thinks I’m a complete moron. It is a fact acknowledged by many women that when a man and a woman, having studied the same thing for the same amount of time, are put next to each-other, the man is automatically assumed to be more knowledgeable and to have worked harder. I’ve had men in the year below me explain GCSE level anthropology to me. There is just this social expectation that women drift through life in a permanent daydream, high on stupid.
What do I want?
Just think before you tell a woman how something works, or what a concept is. That’s all I want. Just pause, think to yourself ‘Does she probably know this’ and back off if the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. You aren’t being helpful by convincing a woman that you think she is stupider than you in every instance.