You’ve Got Some Mansplainin’ To Do

We had a little interchange here at Exponent this week. It’s a fairly common one for us and a lot of female-run blogs. Commenters of the male persuasion will swoop in and inform us of our general ignorance/misunderstanding of the gospel or secular issues and then attempt to explain to us “how things really are.” In the feminist blogosphere, this phenomenon is called “mansplaining”. Here’s a definition:

Mansplaining isn’t just the act of explaining while male, of course; many men manage to explain things every day without in the least insulting their listeners.

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!

Think about the men you know. Do any of them display that delightful mixture of privilege and ignorance that leads to condescending, inaccurate explanations, delivered with the rock-solid conviction of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation?

That dude is a mansplainer.

Of course, this phenomenon is not only present on blogs, women deal with mansplaining every day. For example, I specialize in issues related to domestic violence. I have worked as an advocate against domestic violence for my entire career, I have lobbied legislatures for better DV policies, given lectures on domestic violence to professionals, students and community members, testified in domestic violence trials and am currently getting a Master’s Degree with a concentration in domestic violence policy. I know my stuff. Do you want to guess how many times men, upon hearing what I do, have tried to explain domestic violence to me? (As a humorous and overwhelmingly frustrating aside, usually that explanation boils down to the fact that it’s the victim’s fault for being in a bad relationship. And, no joke, she is in the relationship because she has not had a strong, male influence in her life!)

I generally don’t like to use the term mansplaining, not because I think it doesn’t happen–it does–but because it’s just not very productive. It immediately puts men on the defensive and you will never convince a mansplainer that he is mansplaining. Also, I love men. I have a husband, father and sons that I adore and they deserve so much better than this label.

But mansplaining is a problem. Rebecca Solnit put it best when she wrote:

Men explain things to me, and to other women, whether or not they know what they’re talking about…It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world.

Mansplaining isn’t a conversation enhancer, it is a conversation destroyer. It seeks to halt a discussion on the authority of a man’s pronouncement. And this is an authority granted only for being a man in a patriarchal society. I should note that I believe that most mansplaining is done with the best of intentions but that doesn’t change the fact that it is an exercise of privilege. When men explain things to women in a manner that ignores the humanity or intelligence of women, it reinforces male authority and dominance.

There is a cure for mansplaining, one that requires nothing more than the willingness to listen. Women, like men, are wise and have vast experiences and knowledge to share. Nothing could make this world better than if women’s voices and experiences were given just as much credit and authority as men’s. And if this were to happen, mansplaining would be among the smallest of social problems solved.


Mraynes lives in downtown Denver with her husband and four children. She spends her time lobbying at the Colorado Legislature, managing all the things and preparing Gospel Doctrine lessons.

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60 Responses

  1. E says:

    What really bothers me about the use of a term like “mansplaining” is the implication that this is something that only men do. Aren’t there plenty of women who hold forth in a condescending way about issues they are generally ignorant about? I certainly encounter that type of behavior from women on a regular basis. It may be a function of what you do for a living versus what I do for a living that gives us different experiences, but I think the term “mansplaining” seems sexist and offensive.

    • Mraynes says:

      I think you make a good point, E. As I pointed out in my post, I also am uncomfortable with the term. Certainly women can be just as discourteous as men and whether it comes from a man or a woman, being rude is never appropriate. But I do think there is something particularly dangerous about using one’s position of privilege to minimize another and that at least deserves a conversation. Men are privileged in this society and some men use this privilege to railroad women. So I guess the point of my post was not really to advocate the use of the word “mainsplain” but rather to ask how do we address this issue? And is it possible to discuss this without coming off as offensive?

    • Janna says:

      I disagree – I think the term is hysterical and completely describes this phenomenon that happens regularly on this blog and in the living rooms of many-a-Mormon household.

      I noticed this trend when I was more involved in single Mormon activities. Men and women would sit around at an activity, start up a conversation about a fun controversial issue and the conversation would ultimately devolve into the women watching the men talk – and me being tagged as a manhater, bitter, “opinionated” (why are men never called “opinionated,” by the way?) because I deigned to make my voice heard, or heaven forbid, did not agree with the male voices in the room.

      • amelia says:

        Amen, Janna. I’ve noticed the “opinionated” thing, too. It’s so often used as a derogatory dismissal of a strong woman’s voice just because her voice is strong. I’ve heard it many, many times. Drives me crazy.

    • Kmillecam says:

      I would argue that yes, mansplaining is a phenomenon that MEN do because of their privileged status. If a woman is condescending about an issue she is ignorant of, then it wouldn’t be called mansplaining, it would be something else. Mansplaining describes when a privileged man feels entitled to tell women/feminists what to think about a feminist issue.

      If it seems sexist and offensive, I would ask for you to get really clear about the definition first. And then explore WHY you find it offensive. Perhaps it is just a new idea that warrants contemplation.

    • spunky says:

      I agree Eve, that this is not limited to men, though I suspect Mormon men or any large group of patriarchal men are more likely to engage this way than others (Amelia’s and Janna’s comments are excellent examples that I have also experienced at church council meetings). I think the use of the term “privilege” is key … and very interesting to me in this situation. I have also experienced people- again usually men, but some women- treat me like a dumbass because I am an immigrant or because I am childless or even when I was single… . Seriously, people- you don’t need to explain to me how a bus works. Or why a baby cries when they are hungry, or what the symbolism of Christ/bridegroom and church/bride “really means” just because you are married.

      By and large, most often mansplaining I have experienced comes from men…(I once had a man at church try to explain why he could not order my church records because I was still using my maiden name. I just asked someone else to do it for me.) But I think it can apply to anyone in a position of assumed privilege or authority who spells out the obvious to someone they deem as less-informed by virtue of their nationality, education, marital status or parental status.

  2. marta says:


    • Mraynes says:

      That’s a good gender neutral term for when both men and women are being rude and there really isn’t really any other offense than what’s at a superficial level. But what about when the “splaining” is gendered and a man is using his privilege to dismiss a woman’s concerns like in the example Keri gives below? Is jerksplaining sufficient?

    • Kmillecam says:

      This would be applicable in general when someone is being a jerk. But mansplaining is reserved for when, specifically, a man puts his privilege on display and feels entitled to explain “the way things really are” to feminists.

  3. Keri Brooks says:

    I had a pretty egregious example of this happen to me a few years ago in an institute class. We were discussing D&C 132. I was just beginning my feminist awakening, and this particular passage of scripture was causing me a great deal of distress. We had broken up into small groups, and I was talking with another (female) student. I mentioned my concerns with the passage and she said that she had never seen it that way and didn’t know what to tell me. A male student overheard our conversation and tried to butt in. I politely told him that I wasn’t really comfortable discussing the subject with him. He said, “Fine. I’ll just take my priesthood and go sit in the corner.” Direct quote. I was flabbergasted.

    I handled it rather poorly by storming off. I kind of wish that Starfoxy’s “Amen Squad” had come in to take care of the situation. (At least I think the “Amen Squad” was Starfoxy’s creation. If not, my apologies to the actual creator.) I guess this wasn’t really an example of “mansplaining” – more like “attempted mansplaining”, but I think it comes from the same place of privilege.

    • Keri Brooks says:

      Starfoxy was the creator of the Amen Squad. Here’s a link.

    • Mraynes says:

      I think your example is a good one and highlights one of the most frustrating parts of the problem in that the man was trying to be polite. Of course his politeness was really only masked sexism as exhibited by the tantrum he threw when you told him you didn’t want to discuss the issue with him. But seen from other’s perspective, he would be viewed as the good guy while you were the aggressive and emotional woman, thus reinforcing gender stereotypes. That’s why I think this problem cannot be considered solely gender neutral, there is a very subtle and damaging construct going on underneath the surface that seeks to minimize women’s feelings and experiences.

      Oh, and you were right, the AMEN squad was Starfoxy’s brilliant creation. 🙂

      • Janna says:

        “That’s why I think this problem cannot be considered solely gender neutral”

        Exactly, it cannot. It is because the person is a man, not a human with inherent rights, that he feels the need to set us straight. He has been taught that it is his job to lead, and so he does it often by making sure that female voices are lockstep with every point of doctrine and/or cultural norm in the church.

        By the way, my expressions are not contempt for men. But, rather, contempt for an injustice that I see exercised over and over in our culture – a men keeping women “in their places” through shaming them into thinking that their views are unrighteous. It is a contemptible behavior.

    • Ziff says:

      He said, “Fine. I’ll just take my priesthood and go sit in the corner.”

      Wow! How blatant can you get? So by virtue of his priesthood, he had something to add? Not because of his experience or anything unique to him, but because God approved enough of his genitals to allow him to be ordained? Sheeeesh! I agree that an “amen squad” was clearly needed.

  4. Diane says:

    I’ve had problems with this in Branch alot. It was really quite abusive. For instance, I had a home teacher who would issue invitations to his house because he fancied himself a concert pianist. One week it was my birthday, and alot other sad anniversaries for me so I took off to New York for the day so I wouldn’t be bothered by anyone. I got a call from him demanding to know where I was.

    I sent him an email telling him that an invitation to someones house means that I have the right to refuse and b) at 46 years old I really did not need to account for my whereabouts at any given moment of the day.

    He then proceeded to tell me that I have severe personality problems which needed both professional and spiritual help with and that as a former Branch President he was allowed to say this to me. I forwarded this email to my Branch President and Stake President who refused to do anything about it. AFter that I no longer sustained any of them..

    Its’ really ridiculous that the men in this Church seriously think they can use priesthood authority to tell women they are stupid, have no right to any kind of autonomy in their own home, what ever and they are never called to the carpet by those who have the authority to do so.

    I think we as a church have some serious problems with things like this occur and people just let like it means nothing

    This article and what I’ve just posted is the very definition of unrighteous dominion.

  5. Howard says:

    Based on what I could understand from your explanation men tend to mansplain to other men as well but it’s called a conversation few take offense. Aren’t you talking about someone who is being insensitive and condescending or is this a special brand of it?

    • amelia says:

      Howard, the difference between more general condescending behavior and “mansplaining” is that in the former gender is not a factor. In the latter, the person “mansplaining” takes his authority from the fact that he is a man (or possesses some status or authority or experience granted to him only because he was a man) and nothing more. Both Diane’s experience (a man justifying his behaviors and attempt to tell her how things really are based on his experience as a past Branch President) and Keri’s (a man trying to set the record straight on a question of scripture and then displaying his priesthood as the thing rejected when he was politely told she didn’t want to discuss it with him) are examples of men interfering in a woman’s conversation or life and using the simple fact he is a man as justification for that interfering behavior.

      This happens all the time. I can’t tell you how many times in my Mormon existence I’ve had men say incredibly condescending things that dismiss my own intellectual ability and capacity for thoughtful discussion and even my own understanding of my own personal experience and relied upon their having the priesthood or having served a mission as an explanation for why they’re doing so. My favorite was the guy who told me God wanted to marry him and used his status as a priesthood holding RM to justify his having received that “revelation” when I had had no such inspiration.

      So no–men don’t do this in conversations with other men. They might be condescending jerks in conversation with other men. But they don’t justify their acting that way on the basis of their being a man or by virtue of some experience or status they possess only because they are a man.

    • amelia says:

      For what it’s worth, I do think women do this to men on occasion, too. I’ve seen women depend upon the authority their sex gives them in order to dismiss a man’s ideas. It’s just that the sphere in which they feel justified in doing so is much more limited (for instance, the sphere of how to raise children) and it is always countered by the fact that they are in a subservient position to all men in the church by virtue of their sex. So much so that even a 12-year old boy will “mansplain.” I’m thinking specifically of one woman’s experience (I’m thinking it was Starfoxy though I could be wrong) when she told some deacons to do something one night and one of the little smart asses replied by telling her she couldn’t tell him what to do because he had the priesthood and she didn’t.

      We teach our boys very, very young that they are the privileged class in the church. And we teach our girls to put up with it.

      • Howard says:

        So I guess it could be summed up as an insensitive and condescending misogynist.

      • amelia says:

        It could, though the word “misogynist” implies a more conscious oppositional stance towards women than a lot of mansplainers take. I think there are a lot of men, both in and out of the church, who mansplain without fully realizing they’re doing so. I think most men that I’d identify as misogynists are more openly hateful to women and aware of being that way.

      • Howard says:

        Thanks amelia.

  6. Stephanie says:

    Urgh. The same “mansplainer” showed up on my blog too. The exact same one. I’m so glad there are men like him going around saving us from sin.

    That said, while there are a good many jerksplainers, I agree with those that think the term “mansplainer”is still accurate in this case. A mansplainer thinks he can tell women what to do BECAUSE he is a man. A jerksplainer will get on and lecture because he or she thinks she is an authority figure on righteousness/morality based on a series of life choices. A “mansplainer” will do it because he thinks he is an authority figure based solely on his manliness.

    That’s how I interpreted the comments, at least.

    Lastly, I would like someone to coin a name for the women who when faced with an argument, recruit a man to support her, using the man as a “shield of Priesthood righteousness.” I got the “shield” several times on my Planned Parenthood post. A woman didn’t like what I was saying, left rude comments, so I deleted them. She threw a fit, and sent her brother to mansplain for her. What is this called? Consensual mansplaining? Damsel-in-distress-splaining? Princessplaining?

    Either way, urgh.

  7. April says:

    I believe our Mormon (male) General Authorities refer to mansplaining as “unrighteous dominion.” They don’t seem to like unrighteous dominion and frequently denounce such behavior, giving talks begging men to listen to their female peers. Unfortunately, our church leadership system is set up such that women cannot be true, egalitarian peers. Church policy change would do more than persuasive speeches to stop this behavior.

    • Janna says:

      I disagree that mansplaining is exercising unrighteous dominion because the entire concept of unrighteous dominion implies there is “righteous” dominion over women/other men.

      Unrighteous dominion in our culture refers to egregious acts of domination in the name of the Priesthood. Mansplaining, however, is more subtle, and one can be degraded sometimes without even knowing it until later! We are so used to mansplaining that we take it as a matter of course.

  8. Bewitched says:

    I loved this post and have encountered it many times. I have sons and wonder all the time how to teach them not to do it. Here’s the thing though – they spend their life growing up in a church that is constantly telling them they are the priesthood leaders, they preside, they will be the head of household, etc. What do we expect to happen! “I’ll just take my priesthood and go sit in a corner”, to me sums up perfectly what they are being taught in church, (no doubt by other mansplainers). Women are to be respected and protected and taken care of, but not listened to, is what I feel they are taught.
    I agree it will take changes in church policy to cause a real shift in attitude. At least, in the church. This occurs outside of that as well.

  9. Stella says:

    “There is a cure for mansplaining, one that requires nothing more than the willingness to listen.”

    The “willingness to listen” is but one element in a complex equation . I think a more fundamental cure is necessary. If we support a dogma that ultimately keeps the playing field uneven, it is worth asking “Which is the bigger problem: this man’s behavior or the religion that encourages it?”

    I am not excusing the mansplaining, but I think we are going to be hard pressed to find LDS men who are wiling to rise above such mansplaining because they are rewarded by their behavior by a gigantic, transnational corporation.

    I would like to be proved wrong.

  10. CatherineWO says:

    I once asked to have a home teacher dis-assigned to us because he constantly “mansplained” everything to me. Of course, my husband had to do the actual asking, because the HP leader would not make the change without DH’s approval.
    Great post.

    • BethSmash says:

      This upset me so much. You are obviously having problems with this person, since you asked for a change. But the HP leader needed ‘approval’ from your DH. Obviously your needs weren’t being met by the home teacher. That should be all it takes. argh

  11. BethSmash says:

    I see this all the time. In one single’s ward I felt this was particularly true. The ward skewed older for the female population – many were grad students and returned missionaries – and younger for the male population – mostly recently returned missionaries. During Gospel Doctrine (particularly) and in individual conversations (particularly with women who held callings) mansplaining occurred all the time. When I first encountered it, I excused it, thinking it was more like jerksplaining – and saying to myself… “well… they just got back from their mission, and there needs to be some adjustment time”. But then I noticed that it usually occurred only after a woman gave an opinion (that I tended to think was insightful – or a different way of explaining something that made more sense to me). Mansplaining often, as I see it, discounts personal feelings. Like they’re saying that your feelings aren’t important. It’s just so FRUSTRATING. Also… in that ward – the Bishopric didn’t really do that. It was mostly just the singles. The relief society president (a good friend) struggled with this constantly as the elder’s quorum president did it ALL THE TIME. Discounting her ideas or opinions, mainly because he “always” knew better. sigh.

    • spunky says:

      I feel your pain, BethSmash!

    • Ziff says:

      Mansplaining often, as I see it, discounts personal feelings.

      I think I’ve seen that pattern too. Maybe not always, but often my impression is that mansplaining involves arguing that someone’s (a woman’s) experience can be discounted in the face of someone else’s (the man speaking) general theory that doesn’t include such experience.

      (Of course, I’m a man too, so take this with a grain of salt.)

      • Amelia says:

        I think part of this problem has to do with the fact that because men hold the vast majority of the authority (pretty much all of the functional authority) in the church, the normative church experience and understandings are male ones (also white, also North American, also intermountain west–to varying degrees). As such, it’s very easy for a man to dismiss how a woman feels or what she thinks. This is also largely true of western identity (that the normative identity is male, with female identity being a divergence from or distortion of the normative identity), but there’s been more progress made in general culture than church culture.

        This does happen with other dynamics, of course. I have no doubt that other classes of people use their own privileged status as a justification for dismissing other people’s feelings.

  12. nesquik405 says:

    Here’s my suggestion:

    Fix the mansplainer with not-amused look and repeat to self, as he drones on, “I’ll esteem your opinions as you esteem mine.”

    For me it’s been a satisfying coping tool. And the mansplainer I’m around the most is starting to get the point.

    • amelia says:

      I’ve used this coping mechanism. And when the mansplainer has been especially egregious, I accompany it with a pointed verbal dismissal of what he has said. Turn about is fair play after all. Unfortunately both of these tactics can serve to reinforce the stereotype that women who don’t appropriately hem and haw and take the mansplainer’s word as definitive, and even dare (the nerve!) to call him on it, are just bitter, man-hating bitches.

      • Janna says:

        My favorite is the mansplaination that men need the Priesthood because women are more righteous, and the Priesthood keeps men active in the church. I find it fascinating that some men think that perspective will shut us up – “Oh, you are so right! My vagina makes me better than you and is the reason that I can’t ever have the opportunity to make a policy decision. bless my babies, or hold a top leadership calling in the church. That makes total sense. Thanks for clearing that up.”

  13. Tatiana says:

    There are a whole suite of related issues along these lines, in my experience.

    One is when a man explains to a woman some specific point that she has been repeatedly trying to tell him, often for years, and with which he always previously disagreed, or simply dismissed. He now explains it to her as though she’s never heard of it before, because he just heard from some other man that it’s true. A manreversal, perhaps?

    Another is a man saying in passing “when you messed that up” when some shared task has been bollixed by his misunderstanding or ignorance, and which the woman has tried tactfully to correct his misapprehensions on. Sometimes he’ll be so generous as to allow “when we messed that up” instead. Bonus points for him then explaining in great detail how really it ought to be done, which he has now forgotten he actually just learned from her. Mansharing of responsibility?

    Another thing I love is when a man says “oh she’s really good (at some technical task) for a girl“. Sometimes the last 3 words are unspoken but very much implied, as in the time one of the shop techs goggled at the sight of me using a tape measure, as though I were a dancing bear. He was so amazed and delighted at me, an engineer and designer with 20 years experience, for my proficiency at reading tick marks off a metal strip.

    I agree that these are all things both sexes are capable of doing, it’s just that they seem to happen far more frequently by men toward women because of the systematic, unconscious sexism that’s prevalent in our society.

    I honestly don’t know, after decades of experience with these phenomena, whether they’re conscious or unconscious. They seem mostly to be completely unconscious, and even after much correction and commentary, be it dry or shrill, throughout the years, still are. I spent the first 45 years of my life trying to get through to my father, for instance, that I had sentience, that I was a conscious being, with honestly zero success. When he died he was still as oblivious as ever. Not that he didn’t love me, but he just never saw me or recognized me as a person his whole life. Nor did he see my mother or sister, as far as I can tell.

    • Ziff says:

      Sometimes the last 3 words are unspoken but very much implied, as in the time one of the shop techs goggled at the sight of me using a tape measure, as though I were a dancing bear. He was so amazed and delighted at me, an engineer and designer with 20 years experience, for my proficiency at reading tick marks off a metal strip.

      LOL, Tatiana! I mean, I’m sorry you get treated this way, but I have to laugh at your excellent description.

  14. Naismith says:

    “Mansplaining isn’t a conversation enhancer, it is a conversation destroyer. It seeks to halt a discussion on the authority of a man’s pronouncement. And this is an authority granted only for being a man in a patriarchal society.”

    The thing is, Mormondom is not a patriarchal society that respects men merely because they have a penis. It is a society that allows men to be the conduit through which priesthood power flows; priesthood is a power that men are to use in order to serve others.

    I can’t think of a situation when an LDS woman is expected to shut up just because someone with a penis says something. We are supposed to make our voices heard in church councils and meetings with priesthood leaders. And of course in our families, where we are to be equal partners with our husbands.

    Presumably, if a priesthood leader makes a decision over which he has stewardship, he is doing so after prayerfully determining that this is the will of the Lord. And if the bishop were a female, the same decision would be made because it is the Lord’s will, not the random decision of a male.

    So in an LDS context, an additional definition of mansplaining is when men try to wrap themselves in that priesthood authority even though they DON’T have stewardship, when they AREN’T in authority over a situation. No way in hell does being a “former branch president” entitle one to say anything about a situation at hand. FORMER means the keys are long gone, and the dude needs to get used to life as a mere mortal. (And makes one wonder why the status is “former”…)

    Or even if they are in a position of stewardship, if they haven’t prayed about it and are merely shooting from the hip rather than doing the Lord’s will. In dealing with men at church, one of my comebacks is, “Could we pray about this together?”

    • Mraynes says:

      This is an interesting point, Naismith. While we may disagree that the LDS church is a patriarchal society, I do think you’re right that the misuse of priesthood adds another dimension to the issue of mansplaining. I wonder if somehow it is not more damaging in this context because it purports to be from or by the authority of God?

      • Maureen says:

        “I wonder if somehow it is not more damaging in this context because it purports to be from or by the authority of God?” Yes, yes, YES! And not just because it purports to be by the authority of God, but because it is. Just because these men are endowed with the authority and power of God does not mean they are incapable of acting against His will. So when they do, having the gifts, responsibility, and power that come with priesthood and stewardship, the damage is that much more grievous because they are effectively acting in God’s name against God’s will. The trust we invest in them, as we are encouraged to do through sustaining, also makes its betrayal that much worse.

        Being a convert from early adulthood I have experiences of mansplaining purely outside the church, within the church among general membership, and from those with specific stewardship and authority. Before I joined the church any instance of mansplaining I took as a challenge to me, to prove I was right as a girl. I wasn’t put off as them being arrogant jerks, they were just mistakenly wrong to which I could prove myself right (yes I might have been a bit naïve to think that merely proving myself right would be sufficient). Mansplaining from general church membership, especially about my spiritual experiences, revelations, and interpretations, while more abrasive typically just slid off my back. Considering the concept of stewardship, faith, and *personal* revelation, I didn’t feel compelled to prove myself right or to submit to their positions and counsel.

        But I have never been more devastated than when a former Bishop mansplained away (and not even tactly) personal revelation I had received (perfectly in line with gospel principles) regarding my own wedding. It took me years to understand why it had hurt so much in this instance and not in other near identical instances. He had God given power, authority, and stewardship. Without prayerfully determining God’s will he arrogantly instructed me counter to God’s will. I was put in a double bind of obeying God’s will or obeying that which was counter to His will but given through His authority. It was spiritually devastating in a way I cannot explain, (assured through the Spirit) due to no fault of my own.

      • Diane says:

        It most definitely is more damaging because once someone has made such a pronouncement such as my home-teacher has made there is no place else to go and make a formal complaint. I tried for instance to go to my Bishop with my RSP and get him to do something and I swear he literally laughed in my face which made it even worse, He treated it as a joke. And it only made me more resentful. Absolutely refused to do anything about it. I’m glad I had my RSP with me( she is a lawyer by trade). to witness this, because in essence we were both disrespected .

        After he refused, I sent countless emails to my Stake Presidency and my Area Seventy and they never even responded . This is why I am glad I had my name removed because I saw how little they respected me as a person

  15. Kris says:

    I am a successful businesswoman who has been condescended to for forty years by men. They figuratively pat my head and let me know they will take care of things. I have dealt with many strong men and by the grace of God I am still in my job and they have come and gone. I particularly like what someone said: these attitudes are conversation stoppers. But it has been my experience that this type of men treat their men peers in the same way.

  16. Diane says:

    @ Jana

    when someone tells you they have a right to tell you something because of prior calling like say Branch President, it most definitely is unrighteous dominion.

    Righteous dominion occurs when a father gives son/daughter a fathers’ blessing. He has the right and the authority to do so. Righteous dominion occurs when a father gives counsel to their sons and daughter’s. It becomes un -righteous when say a brother tries to give his sister counsel on whether or not she should marry someone who is not LDS. The brother is not the presiding authority in this case. The father is and that is what makes it unrighteous

    • Caroline says:

      I can see where you are coming from, Diane, and I bet a lot of LDS would agree that men giving blessings to kids are examples of righteous dominion. But is anyone else uncomfortable with that term? To me, a parent giving a child a blessing is (should be, at least) an act of love, not an act of dominion. Maybe there’s a better term for such acts of love and guidance from parents toward their children… any ideas?

      • Diane says:


        I don’t know because dominion is discussed in the Pearl of Great Price as well as it pertains to animals. I like the passage that reads that man shall have no unrighteous dominion over animals. And Animals don’t have any unrighteous dominion over other animals. In this case its’ saying that we should not abuse animals. I really don’t think I need someone to tell me that, BUT, some people obviously do

        In this case, I don’t see it as a negative, I think of it rather like the word stewardship. I understand it to mean that people will treat other people well and with respect. I also believe that Parents in conjunction with one another can give counsel to their sons and daughters.

        I don’t know if that made any sense, but, that’s how I think about the issue

  17. SilverRain says:

    I don’t think that it is limited to when men step outside of their Priesthood stewardships, though I think that way of looking at it is invaluable, Naismith.

    Ray just posted something on his blog about unrighteous dominion that I think gets to part of it.

    “Dominion” in this context is not synonymous with “domination,” but with “stewardship” or “area of influence.” It is possible to have righteous dominion when the principles of divine power are upheld. But even if my bishop has stewardship over me, it is still unrighteous dominion when he tries to compel me to listen to his council on the authority of that stewardship.

    That, I think, is the essence of that awful frankenword, “mansplaining.”

  18. April says:

    I have to admit that I have never considered the term, “righteous dominion.” The scriptures and all of the talks I can recall have only mentioned “unrighteous dominion.” I always thought of “unrighteous” as an adjective describing the inherent problems with “dominion.” It had not occurred to me that there could be an inverse kind of dominion that is considered “righteous.” That is a good point and I will have to think more about that.

    I am not sure whether “righteous dominion” occurs, but I am confident that “unrighteous dominion” does and I do not think it is limited to examples that are either egregious or intentional. I think subtle, unintentional unrighteous dominion is highly prevalent and I think this is the kind of dominion General Authorities frequently describe in their talks. I don’t think the GAs are using promising strategies to address the problem, but I think they should be given credit for recognizing that the problem exists.

    • Diane says:

      Its’ really not enough to say that the GA’s recognize that there is a problem. If we recognize their is a problem with this those who have the authority are obligated to step up and do their part and fix the problem.

      In my case, I still to this day believe my Home Teacher should have been called before a Bishop’s Court. But, Church being Church and men of the church being who they are prefer to say, “oh she was just offended,” This doesn’t even begin to explain what I was feeling, or what happened.

      It’s disappointing to me to see that we have rules and regulations within the framework of the Church to take care of the really, really egregious acts that take place against women in the church, yet, as a woman I can not hold any many responsible precisely because of my sex. That’s what I call duplicitous and disingenuous

  19. Frank Pellett says:

    I try my best not to “mansplain”, because I believe everyone has valid ideas, insights, and opinions that I can learn from. I teach 8-9 year olds right now, and they still cant believe that we the teachers can learn anything from them (we’re so old!).

    I’ve gravitated toward the more feminist blogs lately because they seem to have the best discussions about all sorts of LDS topics, without diving into “know it all” minuteae(sp?) that you have to have an advanced degree in LDS theology to even participate.

    Even though I don’t agree with some posters conclusions, I do try my best to disagree with respect. We all have our opinions and experiences, and we can quite happily disagree without trying to beat each other into submission.

  20. Holly says:

    If you want a really clear sense of what mansplaining is and why it’s called mansplaining and not jerksplaining, read or watch the scene in Pride and Prejudice where Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth. A man telling a woman she doesn’t really know what she’s talking about–even when what she’s talking about are her own feelings–is mansplaining. And he feels every right to do it because by and large, society supports his position, not hers. Furthermore, by and large society forces her to submit to him, not just intellectually but sexually, if he wants it–regardless of whether she does. Fathers like Mr. Bennet who refused to marry their daughters to creeps with money were all too rare.

    For that matter, read Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth. This bit, where he tells her why she rejected him, mansplaining about how it wasn’t a bit wrong for him to stress how unworthy she is of him:

    “But perhaps,” added he, stopping in his walk, and turning towards her, “these offences might have been overlooked, had not your pride been hurt by my honest confession of the scruples that had long prevented my forming any serious design. These bitter accusations might have been suppressed, had I with greater policy concealed my struggles, and flattered you into the belief of my being impelled by unqualified, unalloyed inclination — by reason, by reflection, by every thing. But disguise of every sort is my abhorrence. Nor am I ashamed of the feelings I related. They were natural and just. Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections? To congratulate myself on the hope of relations, whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own?”

    There you have two more reasons to love Austen: she shows us what mansplainers are, long before anyone came up with the term, and she turns a thorough mansplainer into a man worth having.

  21. Mike H. says:

    I know my stuff. Do you want to guess how many times men, upon hearing what I do, have tried to explain domestic violence to me?

    I hear you, and I’m male. “I’ll save you women from your fallacies!”

    I’ve heard women voice their discomfort over Polygamy for years, for instance, but I won’t try to infer they lack faith. Hyrum Smith didn’t do too well in convincing Emma H. Smith about how wonderful Polygamy was, yet we don’t hear about Joseph denouncing her for that , either, do we?

    I see a version of this in the Energy safety issues I activist in often. Some critics say nothing directly, but work hard to discredit what they don’t like, others challenge me & others openly. Part of the problem of objectivity in this case is that often someone has to spend money on safety & pollution issues if there are changes to the law. Sometimes, It’s inferred that outsiders can’t understand the industry, so don’t tell them what to do, no matter how many accidents they have(!).

    Diane-That’s quite some ego with that HT there! Yikes!

  22. shaun says:

    while i don’t, in any way, condone anyone’s disrespect toward anyone else, there’s clearly a flaw in this post. to claim that it’s mansplaining when a man explains something, but is wrong, basically works as a cure-all for any woman who is irritated by a man who disagrees with her. if the woman is wrong, but thinks that she’s right (which would make the man appear wrong, as far as she’s concerned), is that still mansplaining? to that point, your argument almost seems to suggest that men shouldn’t argue with you about domestic violence issues, where the truth is that even the layest of lay people is sometimes more correct on some relevant point than the most esteemed professional. the same thing goes for sexism. i’m sure that many men have had made completely valuable contributions to the feminist cause, but they probably had to argue with plenty of men and women before those contributions ever bore anything of value. i see how people’s arrogance and condescension can be quite irritating, at the very least, and if you mix in a little misogyny on top of that? oh boy! what a mix, amirite? still, to jump the gun and paint the situation such that any man who argues with a woman must hate women isn’t even tenuous; it’s just wrong. that’s not exactly what you’re doing here, but like i said at the outset, there’s a logic flaw here. inb4 i’m accused of mansplaining!

  1. July 2, 2012

    […] real women who have paid dearly for their action and this understandably makes us cautious. To mansplain to us and then to usurp female initiative and power is an insult and betrays the latent sexism of […]

  2. October 15, 2015

    […] You’ve Got Some Mansplainin’ To Do […]

  3. January 13, 2016

    […] The Churchmen’s Voice, mansplaining and Mormons. We have had wonderful posts and discussions at Exponent about “mansplaining” and I want to take those just a step further. What is it about Mormon or religious men in general […]

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