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Mansplainers Mansplain Necessity of Mansplaining, Radio Station Wonders If People Are To Blame For Own Sexual Assaults

Sarah Ratchford returns for another round up of the week in gender politics.

Have you recently heard, or made, the argument: “The need for feminism is gone. There are more women in universities than men, and more and more female CEOs all the time!”

Yeah. This week, that theory was disproven. Spurts of deeply engrained Canadian media misogyny oozed out like the tart fillings of packaged fruit snacks popular in the mid-90s. Truly, an ugly scene: a couple of dudes said in the


that marginalized people really need to be quiet—privileged dudes want to talk still! And a radio station in Edmonton posted a poll on Twitter asking if people who are sexually assaulted are partially to blame. Screencap via.

But Let Me Mansplain!

Remember when you were a kid, and there was always that bossy asshole in your class who forced the teacher to implement the talking stick rule at least once a week, because some kids were never able to get a word in? It seems those assholes never learn, doesn’t it?

Two men are sad this week about terms like “mansplaining” and “whitesplaining.” They feel those terms are limiting. Recent med school grad Tom McLaughlin and law grad Joshua Sealy-Harrington took to the pages of The Globe and Mail to explain to everyone just how tired they were of being discriminated and silenced by people just for being themselves! For being men!

The two felt like their opinions were diminished after Tom was accused, by a female colleague, of not fully understanding women’s health because he is a man, and after Joshua, who is Black, was accused of both mansplaining and white privilege in a Facebook thread discussing the definition of racism.

“Both Tom and Joshua’s stories exemplify a worrisome trend in our society,” the piece reads. “Discrediting opinions (or even fact-based research!) because the individuals expressing them come from a privileged background, such as being male or white. Representing diverse backgrounds in a discussion is important, but dismissing opinions solely because of their origin does more to stifle progress than to hasten it.”


Sorry guys, but you just don’t get it. The irony of a male doctor and lawyer whining about being silenced in The Globe and Mail is just too much to bear. You just graduated from medical school and law school, respectively, and your platform is one of the most respected, widely-read media organizations in the country. You speak from a place of utmost authority, and you and others like you have been, and will continue to be, heard. In fact, you’ll spend your lives dictating to others, and they will have no choice but to listen. I hardly think you are disenfranchised. (Take the How Privileged Are You quiz, maybe).

“The use of terms such as “mansplaining” (and its racial counterpart, “whitesplaining”) can cause disengagement. These labels are sometimes used to dismiss arguments when men and white people simply disagree,” they say.

So basically, two men are mansplaining and whitesplaining why they should be permitted to mansplain and whitesplain. The irony is doubly cruel.

The terms “whitesplaining” and “mansplaining” are used to refer to the insufferable habit these groups have of speaking over everyone else, and from overly-broadcast points of view.

Sometimes women, people of colour and queer people (and those with intersectional identities, obviously) don’t want to hear from men or white people, and that is okay. Sometimes we don’t want to have to offer up yet another fruitless explanation, as McLaughlin and Sealy-Harrington suggest.


Women and people of colour and queer folk are forever having to justify and define elements of our everyday lives and identities. Make explanations. And we often say, privately amongst ourselves, that though we’re trying to affect change, we’re so goddamn sick of explaining. That’s why we need to be able to speak freely, and sometimes that means privately, within our communities. We can choose to exclude men or white people as required, and to varying extents, if that’s what we need to feel heard, and to avoid being interrupted by male or white voices demanding to take precedence.

“Discussing issues such as white privilege and masculinity without white people or men limits dialogue and disengages privileged communities…The unspoken message of excluding an entire group from a discussion is that not a single person in that group has anything worth hearing – an astounding proposition,” the Globe piece continues.

Because heaven forbid a privileged community be disengaged, and that a dialogue be “limited” to only voices of colour, or women’s voices. You’re only preaching the harmful paternalistic tropes you’re claiming to fight against. You don’t get to have unlimited access to our conversations simply because you are used to being granted unlimited access to any space you desire.

If you want to learn more about the importance of safe community spaces, check out the site and philosophy of Black Girl Dangerous. Editor Mia McKenzie, as a queer person of colour who edits a site showcasing the work of queer people of colour, is strict about who gets to speak on her site. She does not publish work by straight white people, because the world is already oversaturated with privileged white voices. She is correcting that imbalance, and that’s what “excluding” white or male voices is about.


McKenzie also offers a primer on how to check your privilege, should you be so inclined. From the section on knowing when to shut up:

“1) no one asked you, 2) the subject matter is outside your realm of experience (why do you even think you get to have an opinion about the lives of black women??), 3) anything you say is just going to cause more harm because your voice, in and of itself, is a reminder that you always get to have a voice and that voice usually drowns out the voices of others.”

Similarly, I attended the Feminist Porn Conference in Toronto a couple of weeks ago, and the strongest statement of the weekend came from performer and activist Arabelle Raphael:

“If you want to be a good ally, learn to shut the fuck up,” she said. Yup, that.

Voices like McLaughlin’s and Sealy-Harrington’s already carry a disproportionate amount of weight in our social, political and economic dialogues. It is time to pass the stick.

Screencap via Twitter.
Radio Station 630 CHED Wonders, Are People Who Are Sexually Assaulted…To Blame?

This week, an Edmonton radio station asked in an online poll: do you think victims of sexual assaults share any blame for what happens? There was much in the way of backlash, happily, but the station reacted in a bumbling fashion which only served to illustrate its ignorance.

It revised the poll before finally taking it down, arguing that it hadn’t been properly contextualized.

The poll reportedly gave two options for a response, yes and no. According to the Calgary Herald, the “no” option said: “women should be able to dress, drink and walk as they choose without fear of being blamed.” And the “yes” option said “if women drink too much, dress too little or walk in harms way, they put themselves at risk.”

This is a radio station (remember those?) with a staff of four humans handling “new media.” The fact that one or all of these humans failed to recognize the hateful and egregious nature of their poll is a signifier of how deeply rooted we are in rape culture in Canada.

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again: rape is a men’s issue. Men can stop rape. And we need to, collectively, do a better job of educating boys about sex and rape in order to fix the problem. @sarratch