Mansplaining: I know what I’m talking about

When I told my flatmate I was writing about “mansplaining at uni,” she erupted in laughter. “I have some stories,” she offered. Yeah. Me too, sister.

It seems that for some innate social reason, probably to do with an historic patriarchy, too much brain-fogging testosterone and far too little common sense and self-awareness, men fail to see women as their equal in an academic setting. A bold statement, yes. But one I can back up with a fair few tales, that cover my secondary school, sixth-form and university experience. Tell me I’m over reacting, and I’ll tell you that you haven’t walked a mile in my shoes. I doubt you could even make 200 feet without getting blisters.

Yet the biggest culprit here isn’t staff– maybe because they’ve had enough experience to realise competency is based off of more than gender – no, in my experience it’s been students. Male peers who maybe don’t like your confidence, your questions, or your grades. Conversations and tutorials littered with “I think what you mean…” or “what you’re asking is…”. 

No. No, you see that’s not what I mean, or what I’m asking. You just want to tell me what you think, you want to solve my problems by avoiding the question and answering something simpler.  You feel the need to check I’m following along. You feel the need to treat me like a younger sibling, like you’re kindly helping me by patronising me. Thank you, so, so much.

What makes me chuckle, though, is that whilst you overlook my contributions in a guy-heavy tutorial, you forget that to be here I’ve had to be just as good as you, if not better. I understand the same economic concepts because I’ve sat in the same economics lectures. Yes, I know what to do in this logic question because I’ve done the same homework and got the same answer.

I’m not alone in this. When I asked my girlfriends for their two-pence, “is there mansplaining at uni?”, the most common answer was an un-hesitant “yes”. Full stop. Stories of being asked if “you girls understand”, or being labelled “feminazis” or overly sensitive if they complained. Mansplaining isn’t the only issue here: it’s the gaslighting that comes when someone tries to do something about it. It’s tutors who find it funny that the social sciences default use “she/her” pronouns in models, which just makes the fact even more patronising: you’re singling us out, pointing at us and going “hey, there are so few female economic students we’re going to help you by making all agents female”. Gee, thanks.

I’m sure if you google “when did sexism end” you’ll find the publication date of Nils Gottfries Macroeconomics textbook. It seems sexism has just been solved by a middle-aged white man.

Edinburgh University Library Computers” by thisisedinburgh is licensed under CC BY 2.0.