Mansplaining

In a four-pack of Crayons, the colors are red, yellow, blue and green. Four large Lego bricks are on display at the entrance to Legoland: they are red, yellow, blue and green.

Why green?

I get the red, yellow and blue: those are primary colors. Green is a secondary color but so are orange and purple. So why do we rarely see red, yellow, blue and orange in a box of Crayons? Why do we not see red, yellow, blue and purple at the entrance to Legoland? Why is green always the fourth color?

I suppose green is soothing or pleasing to the eye.

But why?

Perhaps because we have a preponderance of green receptors lining our retina.

But why?

Perhaps when man’s ancestors descended from the trees they needed to be on the lookout for threats in the grass. Those without green receptors could not tell that there was a lion in hiding in the tall green grass. Plants are green because chlorophyll reflects back the green light—it is not used for energy extraction.

But why?

Perhaps because as the sun rises, the available light shifts to the blue end of the spectrum and when it sets, it shifts to the red end; and green light is always in the middle. So plants evolved to reject the middle green and extract from the ends of the spectrum to ensure they obtained more energy. I think. I don’t know. I could be wrong. If you think I’m wrong, post it.

***

Feminists are upset—they are angry and bitter. When are they not? They say that students give higher teaching evaluations to male professors. Reviews of male professors, they say, are more likely to include the words “brilliant,” “intelligent” or “smart,” and far more likely to contain the word “genius.” Meanwhile, women are more likely to be described as “mean,” “harsh,” “unfair,” or “strict,” and a lot more likely to be called “annoying.”

Is it possible that men like to repeat what they have learned, but reconstructed in their mind to ensure clarity?

Is it possible that our ability to recapitulate—to teach—is sharpened by our constant desire to explain and re-explain?

Yes, men refuse to ask for directions. We want to figure it out ourselves; and when we do, we explain it. Approach a group of men on the street and ask for directions. Brace yourself: they will all explain at once and gesticulate in all directions, offering all sorts of improvements and considerations: rejoice in that masculine moment.

***

Why are our testicles outside of our bodies? The literature says it is because they need to be at a lower temperature in order to function.

But why?

How can any explanation be so simple? There must be more to this.

Well, when we age, gravity pulls down on our organs, compressing them within our abdominal cavity. Nature’s designer realized that it would be safer if the testicles were free from compression, so the body forced them outside to protect them from the pressure induced by the intestines. As a result, testicles now function at a lower temperature.

The temperature issue is not a cause: it is a consequence.

It is important to ask questions, to try to answer, to try to explain to oneself, to try to state the answer in newer ways, to try to question and re-explain; and to do it aloud. If someone objects, incorporate their objection—make it your own. If they are angry and accuse you of patronizing, smile; and try to incorporate some humor next time to soften your explanation.

***

Mansplaining is combining of the words man and explaining, defined as “to explain something to someone, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.” Lily Rothman of The Atlantic defines it as “explaining without regard to the fact that the explainee knows more than the explainer, often done by a man to a woman. The feminist author and essayist Rebecca Solnit ascribes the phenomenon to a combination of “overconfidence and cluelessness,” Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Lately, even the NY Times has gotten into the fray, legitimizing the word and its negative view of masculinity.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/21/opinion/how-to-explain-mansplaining.html?_r=0

***

As I go about my day-to-day business, I explain things. I explain things to myself and to imagined listeners. Even if I don’t know the final answer, I like talking about the question. Sometimes I cannot distinguish if I am talking aloud or to myself. (Yeah, alright: I talk to myself.) Sometimes, I make a fool out of myself when I talk. I mean, who wants to hear this endless splatter of questions and possible answers? So when someone tells me to stop, I learn where the line is.

***

So why is blue the color for boys and pink for girls?

Red used to be the color for boys.

But why?

In primitive times, we sat around the fire and marveled at the red flame, convincing ourselves about red energy. Our language has more words for red than for blue. But then it changed.

But why?

Around 1905, Einstein proposed the Doppler Effect for light. He proposed the red shift wherein the leading edge of our expanding galaxy leans to the blue edge of the spectrum, but the receding edge shifts to the red. Blue is a much more energetic color: it has a higher frequency, blue stars are hotter, and if you study the base of a candle flame, the blue is the hottest. Then, around 1920, the fix was in: blue became the color for boys.

Is there a relationship? I have no idea. There’s also Picasso’s red and blue period. But I have no idea if the issues are related. I have never seen anything in the literature, but I like talking about this issue. If I keep talking about it, maybe someone will explain it better.

***

Feminism is a perplexing neurosis. On the one hand, feminists bash men. On the other hand, they bash men. In between bashing men, they say they don’t bash men and then they bash men; and they forever want to understand why men do well.

Can you imagine how much better our boys would be doing if feminists would stop bashing men? Can you imagine how much better our girls would be doing if feminists learned something from men?

They bash us for mansplaining and bash us for getting higher teacher evaluations.

***

“Hello, my name is JT. I admit I am powerless over mansplaining. It has been one day since my last mansplaining. I did it three times in this essay, and I will do it again.”

***

Consider this astounding new research: A new study co-authored by academics out of Paris and UC Berkeley has found that students tend to rate male professors higher than their female counterparts.

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/01/11/new-analysis-offers-more-evidence-against-student-evaluations-teaching

The author’s name was Annie Boring. Need I say more?

I mean, I don’t get it. Feminists say the reason for male professor evaluations is sexism; but there are more female students in university: the male students are a minority on campus. Despite fewer male students, male professors still get higher teaching evaluations. Despite the female majority on campus, men get blamed when female students give higher evaluations to men.

Why do men get such good evaluations?

When men explain things repetitively (even to people who already understand), we are organizing our thoughts, shifting them around, reformulating causality, searching for flaws in our comprehension, fixing our understanding, fleshing out connections, trying to dominate the subject matter (that’s a good thing—we’re not doing it to women; we’re doing it to the subject matter), looking for ways to rise above it.

Yes, men are mansplainers. Yes, men do get better teaching evaluations. Do you think feminists will ever show enough modesty to get off the pedestal and realize that sexism does not explain this link? Do you think feminists might ever see a connection here?

***

I love mansplaining, and my students appreciate it—they tell me so in my evaluations. My children love it. When my daughter was six, we carried her “But why?” down to the subatomic level. What impressed her more than the answers (what she remembers, she tells me), was the fact that we kept going, inducing her to keep asking “But why? But why? But why? But why? But why?” Today, at fourteen, she talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and I can barely get a word in edgewise—she has an opinion on everything, and she states it like and adult—with confidence and tranquility.

I mansplain to my wife, but my wife loves me  and I love her. She says I talk in my sleep.

***

I hired a female plumber once—for equity’s sake. She was very good but she would not mansplain a thing. I wish women would mansplain more. I’d gladly excuse the ostensible condescension and interpret it as passion—because that’s what men would do: we’re kind. Why can’t feminists extend this courtesy to men? They’re so mean.

So I went back to hiring male plumbers. They mansplain. Even if I understand what they are mansplaining (and I rarely do), I love the look in their eyes when they mansplain their craft and their love for what they know—it’s almost like they’re little boys explaining the first time they jacked off. I like hearing men talk.

The same holds for male auto-mechanics, male electricians, and male-carpenters. I love hearing them mansplain their work and their love for it. It brings out the boy in me; and considering I am approaching sixty, I like knowing the young man is still in me. You know what happens when men approach that age, right?

***

I have saggy balls.

But why?

Newton’s Law of gravitation states:

cap2

 

Now, we take this force, divide it by the hoop area of the scrotum, apply the visco-plastic properties of human skin and GOOD GOD they’ll be scraping the ground if I make it to 70!

But I love my saggy balls. I love my penis: it’s no longer as stiff as a Crayon, but that’s cool. I love the blue edge of the spectrum—and the little blue pill. I love being a man. I love my masculinity.

I’m a mansplainer.

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