Certain scenarios in life are inescapable. Sometimes they’re self-induced, and sometimes they’re products of society. They’re not always unpleasant, but when they’re not always on your terms, they can feel straining. So when mansplaining strikes in these moments it feels especially cruel. Here are some of my most treasured.
During Routine Maintenance
If you’re lucky enough to have a running car you know the frantic dance to keep it running properly. One day I noticed the air in my back tires were low so I stopped at a gas station. Newer air pumping stations allow you to enter the air pressure number you need and then beeps when you’ve hit that number. Pretty simple! As I was capping my last tire a man CRAWLED OUT OF THE BUSHES BEHIND ME and before he was even fully off his knees started in on, “You know what you could do for next time is—” but I didn’t hear the rest because I’d already closed the door to my car. First of all, WHERE DID YOU COME FROM? Second, to my knowledge I didn’t stare at the machine in shock and then put the pump through my open window in hopes that the air would travel through the interior floor into my tires, so what additional information could there even be? Third, will you now exit the same way you entered (the bushes)?
During Pet Duties
Pets. A lot of us have them. Like over 85% of people I read recently?? Feels crazy. They mostly take care of themselves, but they do have needs beyond rubs and being fed. That’s something I’m very aware of after having my dog for ten years. However, I didn’t leash train him like I should have when he was a puppy so he essentially drags my body forward when we go on walks, and this is the life I deserve. I was walking him one day when a car pulls up beside me and a man leans out the window, almost angrily, to shout at me: “You know he doesn’t have to pull you like that, right?” He puts the car in park, still peering his eyes into mine, and when I didn’t respond he yelled, “There are better leashes and a lot of different reinforcement techniques you can try,” as if reversing this nightmare hasn’t been my life’s sole purpose.
During Downtime With Coworkers
Unless you work alone or refuse to engage at all with the people you work with – other living humans just trying to get through the day same as you – there are moments where you pass the time together. In one of these moments a coworker told me he’d started to do puzzles to relax. I said, “Oh, like jigsaw puzzles?wp_postsHe confirmed yes, jigsaw puzzles, and began to describe how he goes about starting one — edges first in a pile, then similar colors together, and then similar shapes — in such detail that I’m positive he didn’t think I’d ever put a puzzle together before, or that if I had it probably took me years seeing that had no method and just took one piece at a time and then attempted it on every other piece until it fit, or that I just ate the puzzle out of confusion.
During Your Job
For people who are physically and mentally able, jobs are unavoidable. Some are meaningful, most are not. I’ve had what seems like 75 jobs in the past 10 years, and many of them have been in restaurants. No matter where I am or what my role is at the restaurant, I’m always tickled to death when I hear men explain food to women considering it was one of the few arenas we had some sort of autonomy over for centuries. I’ve especially loved when the food I serve is explained to me. One breakfast – a menu that pretty much wherever go consists of the six same things, and so if you serve them you probably know those items very well – a man that I’d served before explained to me one by one every way an egg could be cooked as I was taking his order.
During Conversations About Music
The music conversation when you meet new people is a guarantee. If you’re like me, you never actually start that conversation, you just find yourself in it. Not only does one person in particular always makes an appearance in this music swap, they are that man who crawled out of the bushes while I was pumping up my tires, except everywhere I go. Would you believe me if I told you Bob Dylan haunts my daily life? He is my Seinfeld Superman figurine. And no disrespect to those who enjoy his music, but he is my nemesis. This does not stop men from explaining him to me. In fact, it only encourages it. Perhaps I’m not understanding. They bet it’s his voice that’s turning me off, haha, it’s gotten worse as he’s aged. Have I listened to his lyrics? No, I tell them, how I experience music is through the art of dance. Sure, they say, but think about his music through the political and cultural lens of his time. No thanks, I say in so many words. Yes, they assure me.
During Internet/Cable Set Up
Setting up the internet is now as integral to the moving process as transferring electricity and water into your name. If you’ve never been in charge of this task, consider yourself blessed. Recently as an upgrade option Comcast sent a cable box requiring an HDMI cord, without an HDMI cord. A total Comcast move tbh. I called to tell them that, and also that the box wasn’t working with my HDMI cord. The man on the phone wasn’t listening to me so much as he was responding to keywords before I was done talking. In this instance, the keyword was “HDMI”. “You see, HDMI actually stands for something. I learned this a couple years ago.” Be still my heart! “It means ‘high definition’,” and this is the best part, “and then the ‘M’ and ‘I’ stand for something.” Ha, okay, a couple years ago you learned the phrase “high definition” but not the “M” or “I” part and still wanted to offer up this info free of charge.
During Online Interaction
Social media, man. (Frank Sinatra voice) That’s life. It is now anyway. So as a woman on Twitter I reserve this slot for every time my own joke has been explained back to me by a man.
During Small Talk with Strangers
This one’s bound to happen if you ever leave your house. Bars are ripe for it, and yet I continue to go. One of my favorite things to do at a bar is to be asked by a man if I know what a certain words mean. It goes: jukebox, staring at a TV, vocab test. For one lucky man whose favorite thing to do at a bar is apparently ask women if they know what certain words mean, our paths met one fateful night. A highlight word for me from our conversation just so happens to be my favorite PowerPoint swipe option: synergy.
During Political Discourse
Between Facebook and your extended family, somebody’s going to yell their political opinion at you. Sorry. This year is especially yell-y and proof that it is definitely the end of the world. Well, this year’s candidates and Oprah’s bread commercial. Chilling. During this political cycle we’ve also born witness to men’s obsession with Bernie Sanders, which has been like a backwards interpretation of Field of Dreams. You did not built it, and yet they came. They came out of the cornfields prepared to school you on this renegade, and you’re like, “I was just trying to nap on these bleachers, please, my family and I are tired.wp_postsMen’s obsession with Bernie Sanders is also similar to that movie in that I could field an entire baseball team with the number of men that have explained him to me.