It’s been two years since Merriam-Webster announced it had added mansplaining, supposedly coined by writer Rebecca Solnit, to its unabridged online dictionary, yet the word has never been as contentious as it is today. A new Harvard Business Review study authored by a Northwestern University law professor and J.D. candidate reports that on the U.S. Supreme Court, “the male justices interrupt the female justices approximately three times as often as they interrupt each other during oral arguments.” Last year, the Swedish union Unionen, which represents about 600,000 workers in the private sector, set up a mansplaining hotline to raise awareness about condescension toward women in the workplace. (The plan backfired: more men ended up calling the hotline than women, confused as to what constitutes mansplaining.) Jimmy Kimmel even did a political skit on it called “Jimmy Kimmel Mansplains to Hillary Clinton,” wherein he literally explains politics to the almost-president.
So, should you explain financial derivatives to her? What about Father John Misty? Or why states should have the right to regulate female repoductive health? I mean, you should definitely tell her the struggles of male privilege, right? We thought we’d make it easier for you, via our handy flowchart, to know when it’s the right time to chime in with your opinion and when you might want to hold off. (Quick hint: If you want to start a sentence with “Actually…”, don’t.) Our hope: if everyone just hangs a copy in the office supply room and perhaps a few more in some bar bathrooms, maybe everyone will finally stop debating.