Men who explain things to women

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Men who explain things to women

In time for International Women’s Day, “mansplaining” has been discussed on social media. A combination of “man” and “explaining,” the term was selected as Macquarie Dictionary’s Word of the Year for 2014. But what does it mean?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, mansplain means, “(a man) explaining (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.” It basically means, “You wouldn’t know much about this, as you are a woman, so let me explain it to you.”

The word was first used in cultural columnist Rebecca Solnit’s 2008 blog post published in the L.A. Times, “Men Explain Things to Me; Facts Didn’t Get in Their Way.” She wrote about her conversation with a man several years earlier. When she introduced herself as the author of a book on Eadweard Muybridge, a photographer known for “The Horse in Motion,” the man cut her off and said, “And have you heard about the very important Muybridge book that came out this year?”

Only after her friend told him several times, “That’s her book,” did he understand the situation. It turned out that he hadn’t read the book, but had just read about it in a New York Times review.

While Solnit’s story may be dramatic, it is not so rare. To a different degree, many women experience similar situations in their everyday lives. Solnit wrote, “Some men. Every woman knows what I mean.” It doesn’t remain an individual situation. It affects women’s rights.

Mansplaining is widely understood in the United States and Australia, which ranked far higher in the glass ceiling index by The Economist than Korea. So it is not hard to guess what happens so routinely in Korea, which got the lowest score, at 25.6, compared to the average of 60 out of 28 countries.

Last year, 114 women were killed by their partners in Korea. And these are only the reported statistics. Many of the victims were killed for breaking up or seeing other men. But reverse discrimination is gaining support, and some men even openly reveal misogynistic tendencies.

Depending on where you stand, you see a different world. We don’t even need to go into gender inequality. How about men start looking at the world from a woman’s position, and vice versa?

*The author is a planning editor for the JoongAng Sunday. JoongAng Ilbo, Mar. 13, Page

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