Mansplaining is a slang term describing a situation where a man explains something to a woman in a condescending manner. Recently an argument was had, on Twitter (that fount of human knowledge and decency) between Jennifer Scheurle and Markus “Notch” Persson. It got pretty messy pretty quickly, as arguments are wont to do when people have to constrain themselves to 140 characters, but I wanted to take a look at the issue while I could.
So, first off, we have Jennifer (grammatically corrected) statement “Let me make one thing perfectly clear; mansplaining is [a] funny, but actually quite problematic and real issue. It silences women.” You can easily see where she’s coming from. By “mansplaining,” men are talking down to women as if they are stupid and belittling the ideas of equality. Her heart is in the right place but, as frequently occurs with things like this, it’s not just black and white, but I’ll get to that later.
We then have Notch replying with “No, mansplaining is a sexist term designed to silence men by gender shaming,” and, all of a sudden, the gloves are off, and I’m in his corner.
Jennifer’s statement, with the best intentions, misrepresents the problem and Notch’s response (and following responses if you wanted to look them up) poke fun at that. My main issue with Jennifer’s point is that it is sexist to both men and women. It implies that all men mansplain things to women and it implies that women are powerless to protest when they are being talked down to. I also feel that Notch has a point by saying that “mansplaining” is sexist towards men. At its core it is another way of saying “explaining in a condescending manner,” but the fact that there is no female equivalent speaks volumes about how these women feel that it is okay to be condescending towards men but, as soon as men retaliate, they are abusing their privilege as men.
In many ways the ideas here are presented in the same way as when a woman hits a man. If the man retaliates she can demonise him as someone who beats women, if he does not then he can be ridiculed and made to feel weak. There are no victory conditions for men here because the skewed way of thinking the people arguing are using.
To surmise the rest of the exchange though, we have Jennifer leaving the social justice warrior/trolls (who live for this sort of drama) to clean up the mess she started and Notch, in my opinion, keeping very calm throughout. One man says “The irony of this guy mansplaining what mansplaining is,” to which Notch, very justifiably replies, “Stop #cuntfusing the issue by dismissing my words with a derogatory term about my gender.” I can’t really elaborate on this because it’s very clear that the person talking about the “irony” of the situation is being sexist towards men.
We then have the entire argument devolving into personal insults where the words “dick” and “cunt” became commonplace, much to my amusement because cunt may be my favourite word in the English language. However, in amongst the personal insults, someone calls out Notch for being “privileged,” and I wanted to punch them in the face.
This is in internet.
CHECK YOUR FUCKING FACTS!
I realise I am going overboard in the defense of Notch but I think that he deserves all the success he has achieved. He quit his job to become a full-time indie-game developer. He single handedly created and worked on Minecraft for a number of years before creating Mojang. He then left Mojang when he got bought out by Microsoft and, amongst all that, he created the single most successful game in recent memory, one that has become a cultural phenomenon and is played around the world by all ages. One does not get to do all that without having some kind of wits about you and I think for people to start attacking him for putting his views out there, attacking him personally, that is, not just arguing against his opinion, is a superlatively enraging action. I wish Notch all the best and hope he doesn’t let this bother him.