The out-and-out confrontational confidence of the totally ignorant is, in my experience, gendered. Men explain things to me, and other women, whether or not they know what they’re talking about.

—Rebecca Solnit[1]

"The Nude Selfie Sage" mansplaining how to be a woman.[2]

Mansplaining is the process by which a man condescendingly explains something basic, talks over or otherwise undermines the other speaker who is not a man (usually a woman). Similar terms exist to describe other similar interactions where a person with privilege erases the experiences, expertise, and contributions of another less privileged speaker, e.g., cisplaining; as well as the general case: condesplaining.

Mansplaining does not require both/all speakers to be present in order for one to undermine the other, meaning it can take the form of a letter, a lecture, an article, etc.


Rebecca Solnit wrote an article in 2008 in the Los Angeles Times called "Men Explain Things To Me" where she recounted a situation in which a man patronised her.[3] This in turn inspired a comment in a discussion on LiveJournal which used the verb for the first time: "Oh, gosh, thank you so much for mansplaining this to us!"[4][5] The term has since become popular in on-line feminist discussions.

Complementing definitions

Karen Healey on LiveJournal might have been the first person to define the term:[6]

Mansplaining is when a dude tells you, a woman, how to do something you already know how to do, or how you are wrong about something you are actually right about, or miscellaneous and inaccurate "facts" about something you know a hell of a lot more about than he does.

Bonus points if he is explaining how you are wrong about something being sexist![7]

Fannie, a lawyer and blogger, referring to the previous definition, further specifies:

The mansplainer's problem isn't so much that he's trying to teach a woman something, but rather that he takes it as a given that she doesn't already know whatever it is he is going to tell her.[8]

Handmaid, a user of Urban Dictionary, defines mansplaining as:

to delighting in condescending, inaccurate explanations delivered with rock solid confidence of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation

Even though he knew she had an advanced degree in neuroscience, he felt the need to mansplain "there are molecules in the brain called neurotransmitters"[9]

Knowyourmeme takes a slightly more internet-oriented approach to defining the term:

Mansplaining is an Internet slang term used to describe condescending and inaccurate explanations that are given under the assumption that the audience is entirely ignorant on the subject matter or topic. The name stems from an online behavior commonly exhibited by male newbies on female-oriented discussion forums, however, any member of either sex can be guilty of mansplaining.[5]

See also

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