by James Wallace Harris, Friday, December 13, 2019
So many of my women friends have gleefully embraced the term “mansplaining” that I’m wary of saying anything at all anymore. One lady friend told me two of her book clubs have decided not to allow men because they hog all the conversation. Can’t say that’s not true. Recently on Facebook, I saw a quote “My wife is using the term mansplaining incorrectly and I don’t know what to do!” We can’t help ourselves.
I wonder if women understand how much we love details, especially abstract, philosophical, statistical, and scientific. I love to hear the nitty-gritty on a teeny-tiny aspect of reality. Lately, I’ve been enjoying YouTube videos more than watching Netflix, Hulu, HBO, or Amazon Prime.
And I realized something. YouTube is the last refuge of the mansplainer. A guy with a video camera can talk to his heart’s content on the most esoteric of topics. And some of these guys are good. I mean really good. They know their stuff, and they’re terrific at producing polished films that present their explanations. Here’s one of my favorites, a guy, Mr. Carlson, spending two hours explaining how he restored a 1947 radio. I don’t even like listening to the radio anymore, not since the early 1970s, but this guy has me wanting to buy an old radio to restore.
I’m finding more and more topics that I just love to listen to because guys explain them so well. Here’s a cartoon I found about mansplainers that fits these YouTubers very well (even considering the misspellings).
Yes, the YouTubers I watched are male, educated, hyper-confident but I don’t feel they are condescending or smirk. Well, some do get a bit condescending and smirky, but those guys are trying to be funny. Most of these explainers are so uber-confident that they aren’t even the least bit egotistical. Their goal is to explain something technical as clearly as possible, and they are comfortably sure of their knowledge.
Here’s a guy reviewing a pair of $3000 headphones. Notice how careful and humble he is about his opinion while striving to be exact and even-handed.
The thing about mansplaining is you want to go on and on about something you love with a passion. What’s wrong with that? Here’s John Darko telling about the best places to buy electronic music in Berlin. I won’t get to Berlin, but I will play these albums on Spotify.
Steven Guttenberg has a daily video about audiophile music and equipment. He mainly covers stuff I could never afford but I enjoy listening to his opinions because he’s so knowledgable and technical.
The 8-Bit Guy is my favorite YouTuber. He also talks about the equipment I won’t ever own or techniques for restoring it that I’ll never use. Here he is explaining how to restore plastic cases to their original color and create new manufacturer badges so these ancient disk drives will look like they did when they were new. I love this stuff.
What’s funny about all these YouTubers is they’d probably bore the crap out of both women and men at parties, but they get hundreds of thousands of people listening to them on YouTube.
I understand us guys can pontificate at length when we’re trying to hit on women, but I’ve patiently listened to countless explanations about epic shopping adventures or tales of being slighted at work – that took forever. It’s funny but some of my women friends have complained about my long-winded blogs, but I am quite certain their wordage is far greater when they explain what they are excited about than my verbose blogs.
Ever consider that us mansplainers are just weeding out the women who have the patience to let us express ourselves? And we’re picking women by the length of lady-chatter we can handle? I have a male friend who told me his goal was to find a woman that let him talk at least 40% of the time. He’s quit dating.
I believe one reason why the internet has been so wildly successful is that we can find people who love the same tedious topics we do. I love old science fiction anthologies. I found two friends who like them too, one in England and one in South Africa. I thought we were it until we formed a group on Facebook and found 65 more. It’s hilarious, but 68 might be the total fans for old SF anthologies. But now I don’t have to bore my women friends about this topic.
I don’t tell my wife or lady friends about my love of old science fiction anthologies, or about any of my other esoteric loves. I was conditioned long ago, way before the invention of the term mansplaining that they just don’t give a shit. But it did take a lot of eye-rolling before I was clued in.
I do my mansplaining on my blog. I really don’t care who doesn’t want to read it, but I do enjoy finding people who do.
9 thoughts on “YouTube – the Last Refuge of the Mansplainers”
Any woman seriously complaining about “mansplaining” should be banned from using wikipedia. It’s a trove of information and a very large percentage is provided free by men. And, as you implied, most of the how-to YouTube videos are by men.
Everybody can think what they like about the things you are interested in, but their thoughts should stay in their minds.Provided you don’t bother them about your interests, they shouldn’t bother you about them. If they do without provocation, then it’s a different matter.
Jim, for me “mansplaining” to me is all about the condescending, especially when someone outside my field is explaining some basic point of my own field to me, because of course he understands it better than I do, even though it’s NOT his field🤦🏼♀️
Thank you for clarifying the definition of mansplaining. The blog post misses the point and accurate definition of the term. Read Rebecca Solnit’s book based on her essays Men Explain Things to Me. Happy to listen to anyone explain their passion on YouTube. But mansplaining is very specific behavior done at the expense of a woman who is an expert on the topic that is ignored and dismissed. We all had some major aha moments after the insightful articles by Rebecca Solnit that triggered the recognition of the term. We felt it as women but never could quite put our finger on the phenomenon until Solnit’s insightful essays.
I have read Solnit’s book. And yes, that specific account inspired the term mansplaining, but I don’t know who first invented it. However, like most words, people embrace them in different ways, and their usage mutates. I’ve been hearing women using the term mansplaining whenever a guy tries to explain anything, even if they already know the subject or not. Some women I know like using the word mansplaining for men who talk too much and hog the conversation.
Because of this, I don’t try to explain things at all to my women friends unless they ask. I just thought it funny how many guys spend so much time on YouTube explaining things. I think guys just love to describe how things work. I was aiming for humor in my essay.
I agree with you that the term had a very specific meaning originally, but I’m seeing it used in different ways now. Haven’t you? It’s a funny word that’s very clever, so people want to use it.
I also love old science-fiction anthologies!
And I think you are right about enjoying the explanation more than even perhaps the subject. I have spent hours listening to tech reviews and movie reviews just because I enjoy listening to articulation, I suppose, as I am not much of a tech head, and the movies I enjoy hearing reviews for I have already seen.
I admire anyone–man or woman–who is knowledgeable and passionate about something. My best professors were almost obsessive-compulsive about their subject matter.
If they don’t want to have things explained, perhaps they shouldn’t ask questions beginning with how or why.
Great post, Jim!