Is This the Female Version of "Mansplaining?"
I call it "MeSplaining" PLUS: When #StandingForWomen gets you knocked down
RECENTLY I WAS sitting at a restaurant waiting for my husband. At a nearby table sat four middle-aged men: suburban dads by the look of them. One man was louder than the others. He was explaining something about how he dealt with the handling of his car on certain turns.
I realized, however, that he was making his points in exactly the same way that would be derided as “mansplaining” if he were talking to women. Yet none of his friends seemed offended. Rather, as the conversation unfolded, each one tried to offer his own explanation — his own superior, more-informed explanation. It hit me with the jolt of a cosmic revelation: these men were mansplaining to each other. Then I suddenly understood: “Mansplaining” is not a uniquely sexist act of male condescension and aggression against women. “Mansplaining” is just the way men … speak.
I can’t reproduce the dialogue exactly, but it went something like this:
Man #1: “So I’m having this issue with my Miata —”
Man #2: “What year?”
Man #1: “2020”
Man #2 slightly grimaces, as if that was the problem right there.
Man #1, ignores and continues: “I’ll be on the highway, pushing, say, 80, and all of a sudden, I’ll notice it drag a little when I’m coming out of a turn as I try to speed up again. I’m thinking it could be a fuel sensor issue, like a clog. Because if the injector is clogged, you know, it can affect the car’s acceleration.”
Man #3: “Hmm. It could also be the throttle sensor. If that’s not working right, the accelerator won’t be able to control the engine’s speed. But then you’d have noticed that when you slowed down as well. Was that a problem at all?”
Man #2: “I’m pretty sure it was the model year. 2020 Miatas had a ton of issues.”
Man #1: “No you’re thinking of the 2016 to 2019 Miatas. They were recalled for electrical power failures that affected the transmission — but, like, suddenly, out of the blue. Boom! They only recalled the automatics. I drive stick, of course.”
Man #2, still insistent: “Are you sure it wasn’t the ‘20s? I swear I read about all kinds of issues with the 2020s.”
Man #1: “Nope you’re wrong. Do you want me to Google it?”
Man #4, who’s been patiently waiting his moment to jump in: “Ted, I think you’re right that it probably has something to do with the fuel sensor. But not the throttle, Steve, because as you say that would affect deceleration as well. Sounds to me more like it could be the pump, not supplying enough fuel as you come out of those turns. On the other hand it could also be a completely different problem , maybe with the timing belt or even a faulty catalytic converter.”
Man #4, more expansively now: “The catalytic converter controls the exhaust gases as they exit the engine. So if you have a faulty catalytic converter, trapped gases build up and put a lot of pressure on the engine. The hot engine then loses power. Thus: poor acceleration.”
Man #1, after a pause: “Well, I’m taking it in next week so I guess I’ll find out.”
Man #2: “How about those Capitals?”
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