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johnny bench

Not the poster, but you get the point: I was a very weird teen-aged girl.

Before I begin, let’s start with A Very Brief, Very Abridged History of Bess:

I was raised by a woman who didn’t approve of giving play kitchens to little girls because, and we quote, “it gives ’em the wrong idea.”

When I was sixteen, I was a card-carrying member of the National Organization for Women. I had a subscription to Ms. and WomenSports magazines, but did not subscribe to the usual teeny-bopper fare of Seventeen or Mademoiselle.

I had a poster of Johnny Bench making the throw to second base over my bed.

I’ve worked outside the home for most of my career, and have been pretty successful at it. Raised four kids while I was at it, with reasonable success so far.

I wrote this, and was roundly excoriated by a reader of the very gentle, kind Ahwatukee Foothills News as a ‘female dog.’ (Seriously: he was too nice to say ‘bitch.’ But not too nice to imply it.)

I tell you these things because I want some background established when I say…

Fer the love of Gawd, quit using the term ‘mansplaining.’

I am not saying that condescending men do not exist.

They do.

I’m not saying that there aren’t men who will, in this day and age, look at a woman and assume she doesn’t know her ass from third base just because she’s a woman.

There most certainly are.

They do not, however, hold an exclusive monopoly on condescending twitterdom.

So use the words ‘explained in a condescending manner’ when you’re trying to describe how the guy assumed that you knew nothing about hockey. It’s more precise, and you don’t know why he’s using that tone, since I’m going out on a limb here and guessing that you’re not an actual mind reader. He might be a condescending twit with everyone, even men. He might be condescending because you’re young. Or old. He might be condescending because you’re wearing a Boston Bruins jersey and everyone knows that you should only wear Flyers gear and who the hell let you out of the house wearing Esposito gear?

When you use the word ‘mansplain,’ you’re doing what we as women have railed against for centuries: reducing someone to a cultural cliche, many times with nothing to go on but that someone’s apparent gender. 

It’s rude, we’ve spent too many years asking the world not to do it to us, and women can’t ask for that kind of respect if we’re not willing to give it.

I guarantee that if you read all of the above and are left with one question: who the heck is Johnny Bench? I might sound condescending when I explain it to you, but it wouldn’t be because you’re a man, or a woman, or a basset hound.

It would because because HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW THE NAME OF THE GREATEST CATCHER FROM A BASEBALL DYNASTY? THE ROCK YOU WERE RAISED UNDER, LET ME SEE IT.

That’s not ‘mansplaining,’ and it’s not ‘womansplaining,’ and it’s not even “Lucy, you have some ‘splainin’ to do!”

It’s condescension, and it’s rude when anyone does it. Let’s leave it at that, shall we?

© E. Stocking Evans 2016

 

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