MENZ Issues

Mansplaining – a uniquely postmodernist concept

Quillette writer Michael Aaron discusses the importance of understanding that the left/right political dichotomy no longer applies, and that there are now three distinct political viewpoints: postmodern, modern, and traditional.

His explanation of the postmodernist term ‘mansplaining’ might offer some clues as to why our efforts to communicate the issues men face have largely been unsuccessful.

Such contemporary terminology as ‘mansplaining’, for example, which refers to when a man overly assertively explains something to a woman, is a uniquely postmodernist concept. In this dynamic, seen through a postmodernist lens, the interaction between the man and woman represents a power struggle between historically empowered and disempowered groups, divided by gender. The man displays his privilege through his verbal assertions. The validity or usefulness of his content is irrelevant; this interaction calls for real-time equity that can only be established by calling attention to the man’s utilization of unearned privilege manifested through his forceful, perhaps even “violent” rhetoric. A woman could not possibly be guilty of something similar since she does not possess historical power. A modernist, on the other hand, would likely see this interaction on a case-by-case basis, preferring to see both individuals as possessing self-agency rather than guided by unseen power dynamics, like puppets pulled on invisible strings. If the man was indeed overly dominant in his delivery, he would receive appropriate feedback and both people would move on with their lives, rather than seeing this interaction as a revolutionary feminist moment.

Full article: Evergreen State and the Battle for Modernity