Thursday, July 16, 2015


Peggy Archer touched on the subject of "mansplaining" a couple years ago, but for some reason, I didn't really understand the term until recently.

Maybe I didn't understand it until an FSO* came up to me when I was helping set up a light. We were shooting outside in a park and he explained to me why I shouldn't put a ballast on dry brush. I looked at the ballast I had just set down, confused as to where the danger was since it was sitting safely on a concrete slab with no woodsy debris around. I pointed to it, still confused on what I had done wrong to warrant such a lecture, and asked him if that was okay. "Yeah," he said, "I just wanted to make you aware of what you're not supposed to do for the future. I'm trying to teach you." I guess being female is what I did wrong because none of the males in my department got the same speech. Did I mention I was the Best Boy on that job?

Or maybe it was when I was checking out equipment that I finally understood the term. Since I've never dealt with this particular rental house and their paperwork wasn't very clear, I asked our floor guy if their ballasts usually came with a 220v snake bite. This apparently prompted him to give me a five minute lecture on what they're used for, how to use them, and what 220v means. Seriously? 1) It was a "yes" or "no" question. And 2) I've been in this industry for close to a decade now. I think I know what a 220v snake bite is.

Or perhaps it was the other day when a colleague "helpfully"** explained to me that the mockingbird the sound guy was bitching about was imitating a car alarm that I finally understood the meaning of the term.

Was the asshole mansplaining when he was quizzing me about my own equipment?

Was the other asshole mansplaining when I was warned that lights get hot?

Or when Douche Bag One explained a c-stand to me?

Was it mansplaining when Douche Bag Two wanted to "teach me" that the colors are supposed to match up when you connect banded?

What about that time when a dickhead actually explained breakfast to me?

Come to think of it, why did it take me so long to really understand what this term meant?

Can a man please explain it to me?

* Fire Safety Officer. He's basically there to ensure we keep fire lanes clear, we have an exit path should an emergency occur and make sure we don't (unintentionally) burn anything down.
** And by "helpfully," I mean I was sitting there minding my own business when said colleague actually got out of his seat, walked by others in our department, and stood in front of me just to "teach" me about this natural phenomenon... Which I was already aware of, thankyouverymuch.


Niall said...

Fuck em all. Being a man I hate seeing other men 'mansplain'. If i see a person struggle or I know for a fact are a greenhorn I'll help and offer a tip or two. Other wise your on own until you ask me a question. Women are just as capable as lighting techs as the next man.

JD said...

Did you just politely take this all in? At no time did interrupt the moron and cut him a new asshole?

Jesse M. said...

Sometimes I'm afraid I come off as a mansplainer. But I still meet people who don't even know how to work ratchet straps. Some crews I work with I swear the trucks would leave without all the carts on them if I wasn't there.

A.J. said...

JD - Yes, pretty much. Certain departmental politics unfortunately often make it an unwise choice for me to be anything other than professionally polite about these things. Anything less and all of a sudden, I'm a bitch. #ThingsAreDifferentForMen.

Jesse - If you're afraid you come off as a mansplainer, one thing you could do is take a tip from Niall and wait until they ask you a question and/or see them struggling. Or just offer to help. If they turn you down, they've probably got it covered.

Anonymous said...

Hi A.J.

I now have to change my shirt as I spit-take coffee all over it. I have been guilty of mansplaining too, hopefully not just to women. Ego is a fragile little bird.

So spreading the word, naming that behaviour, can be a force for a good change.

Having said that, I totally agree with Niall and wish more men waited until asked.

Irrelevant aside for blogging nerds: I've added you to my feedly so I don't have to remember to binge catchup on your posts via my bookmarks. But in doing so I discovered that blogger auto-redirects your visitors to country specific URL's which is bad for your stats and audience. You can prevent it if you want labnol org has an article "Prevent Blogger from Redirecting your Blogspot Blog to Country-Specific URLs"

A.J. said...

paulzag - At this point, I understand that some "manly" behaviors are a result of social conditioning, but I appreciate when someone at least recognizes their shitty behavior. :)

Thanks for the tip on the blogger re-directing. I'll look into it.

JD said...

Explaining without preaching or schooling is an acquired skill. "That's one way to get it done. Have you ever tried doing it this way......?". "I remember a little fire that got started when a Electric PA didn't...."

Bill said...

I've been mansplained (explained something condescendingly) and I'm a man! I've even been mansplained by women. So. Eh? It happens all the time, perhaps moreso with women, I am not sure. However, whenever I am being mansplained something, the man/woman has the decency to do it somewhere not in public. Perhaps therein lies the difference.

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