Speaking in Code: Why Gendered Language Widens the Gap
2 min read
“Mansplaining”, “Manslamming”, “Manspreading”, “Manterrupting”, “Bropropriate”
...the list goes on.
These types of gender neologisms have become increasingly more prominent over the last few years. Certainly, when I first heard of these words, I thought they were a great way of making an important point about sexist behavior. However, they are now so overused and have gone from being poignant, to man-shaming and reinforcing gender binaries. The terminology risks undermining the feminine message of equality and turning it into somewhat of an anti-male rhetoric. As a feminist, and I’m sure you’ll agree, being referred to as a man-hater is NOT what we want people to associate with feminism.
Stop manterrupting me!
I do think it is a known thing that men do ‘Mansplain’, ‘Manterrupt’, ‘Manspread’, and often, it’s directed towards a woman. I am certainly not denying that fact, and I have experienced this first hand on more than one occasion. However, just because men have been observed to do this to women, does not mean we should coin a term for it to gender shame them. I know that I hate when a ‘group’ of people (of any gender, race, ethnicity etc.) are put into boxes of behavior, e.g. ‘ALL women are overly emotional’, or, ‘men shouldn’t cry’. That umbrella style stereotyping is backwards and regressive.
This terminology is ultimately inflammatory and unproductive. It usually brushes people up the wrong way, resulting in an angry and/or defensive response, rather than learning from it that they shouldn’t be condescending to us, or anyone, which I’m sure is the ultimate end goal.
We use ‘mansplaining’ to say that a man is being sexist, because we believe he’s doing it to a woman because he thinks that he, a man, is better than us, a woman. However, whilst this may be true in certain instances, is it not sexist to use these neologisms? The whole thing seems just a little hypocritical to me.
Something that I think is overlooked is that men also "mansplain" to each other. I don’t think its necessarily directed at women to deny them authority, but just the way some men are as a person. Of course, this may be the case sometimes, but don’t we all agree that stereotyping is toxic?
This negative gendered language leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, rather than one of inspiration and encouragement. It reflects and reinforces social norms, and unlearning language like this is an important part of solving sexism.
Also, is this behaviour more about the person themselves, rather than their gender? People not giving up their seat, interrupting people, being patronising, more about their own ego’s and feelings of entitlement rather than what gender they are? As Liz Cookman from the Guardian so eloquently puts it; “it might be worth remembering that a prat is a prat, whatever their gender”.
Author: Charlotte Anderson
Charlotte Anderson is a marketing enthusiast with a First Class Degree in Business from the University of Sussex. Currently, she is working as a digital marketer involved heavily with social media marketing and content creation, and hoping to gain further knowledge in coding and website development. Having written many essays around the subject of gender equality and representation in the media, she hopes to convey the passion for the subject through her blog posts with SheCanCode.