Monday, September 17, 2012

Forty-Four: Explanations

There's  word I've just run across out there in the bloglands: "mansplaining". I found the original essay that used the word, and I do understand what it means. It still sounds like a word Ricky Ricardo would've used, but I do understand where it comes from and what it's intended to mean. I do have a few problems with the word, since I'm not convinced that it needs to be a gendered thing, and I'd certainly argue that the basic idea needn't necessarily be gendered. But I suppose it is something I'd apologize for.

I rarely if ever apologize for things in the gender wars. I try to reserve apologies for one-to-one encounters, for moments when I've failed in courtesy with individuals. I was brought up to believe that politeness and courtesy matter, and I'll always believe that. I don't apologize for political or social failings, and I don't apologize for being most of the things on the current "social justice" list of all things evil---- male, older, white, straight, cis, nominally middle class. I will always apologize for inadvertent failures of individual politeness; I will not apologize for "privilege".

"Mansplaining", now... Well, I am guilty of over-explaining. I over-think, and I over-explain. I'm aware of that.  I spent far too many years standing in front of classes explaining things. I can so easily be triggered into lecture mode--- explain, offer up examples, repeat key points, point out linkages between ideas. Tell the story, look at it from different angles, then quickly review. That's built into me, I fear. And before ever I stepped up in front of my first class, I spent years managing a bookstore, explaining to people why they needed this book, what that book could offer them.

I over-explain. And I love telling stories.  I don't think that's ever been a gendered thing. I'll tell stories to anyone. I probably do offer up explanations to people who may already know them, but if they tell me that and offer up their own stories--- well and good. I suppose there's competition there, but I like that. Trading stories, seeing who knows the most arcane things and the most intriguing stories--- how can that not be fun? I have to wonder what matters more--- the value of the explanation as such, or just being able to tell stories. I have no clear answer to that.

I've never assumed that the girls I talk to or flirt with need to have things explained, or that as a male, and an older male at that, that my explanations are always and ever more correct than girls' views. But I will launch out into explanations and stories. I was trained to do that--- to explain, to tell stories. I ask questions, too. I was trained to do that as well.

So I do feel the need to apologize sometimes. Not for "mansplaining", not for assuming that I must know better than any "mere" female. I'll apologize if ever I took up someone's time when they were busy, or if my stories and explanations turned out to be wrong.

Telling stories, though--- I won't apologize for that as such. Or for enjoying the game of exchanging stories. But it's the stories that matter, not gender competition. I want to be very clear about that.

1 comment:

The Provoist formerly known as Ævæ said...

You tell excellent stories, spin fun yarns and explain yourself eloquently. The Gender studies crew should simply be ignored; worrying as to what they think is a waste of time...time better spent by you on weaving tales and explaining ideas and offering information.

I'm pleased anyway that you overthink and overexplain. Keep doing so, you are an asset, dear Roue...