Monday, January 26, 2015

The Dictionary of Man-Hating Words

Slowly, there's a new vocabulary developing that blames men as a class for bad things that happen to women. The angry women who invent this new vocabulary take a gerund (a noun made from a verb by adding "-ing"), change the first part to include the word "man" or some male variation, and--voila!--it becomes a word to describe the bad things they claim "men" as a class supposedly do to women. Here are some examples (click on the word for links to source material):

Bro-opted: Taking a woman’s idea and taking credit for it.

Bropropriating: Taking a woman’s idea and taking credit for it.

Manslamming: The sidewalk M.O. of men who remain apparently oblivious to the personal space of those around them.

Mansplaining: When a man condescendingly lectures a woman on the basics of a topic about which he knows very little, under the mistaken assumption that she knows even less.

Manspreading: The male practice of sitting on a crowded train with legs spread wide apart.

Manterrupting: Unnecessary interruption of a woman by a man.

This new language is embarrassing to those of us who actually don't ascribe negative traits to "men" as a class. If a man does something anti-social--if he interrupts, takes credit where it isn't deserved, is condescending, takes up too much room on a subway, or bumps into people on the street--it isn't a gender hate crime, it isn't evidence that women are oppressed, and it isn't a reflection on his entire gender. It just means that this particular man did something anti-social.

And women do the same things (do I really need to go there, people?), but if male writers started dreaming up snarky words to shame the entire female gender for the actions of some women, the angry women who dream up this stuff would spit nails even more than usual.

Elissa Strauss says enough with this stupid trend! She writes:
For one, it commits the sin of gender essentialism, i.e. attributing one's behavior to one's gender. Is a man's windbaggery a consequence of his gender or the fact that he's just a jerk? Must we reinforce the connection between speechifying and penises? Women have long tried to undo the idea that gender is destiny, both as nurture and nature, because it limits everyone. Why bring it back? As Meghan Daum recently pointed out, both genders are capable of being blowhards.

The other problem is that " man-izing" makes criticism too easy to deflect. . . . But most men, or people . . . deserve to be heard out. After "mansplain" caught fire, it became all too easy for women to avoid conversations with men who disagree with them; all they had to do is charge them with "mansplaining" and case closed. 
Ladies, it's time to grow up.

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