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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Academic 'Mansplaining'

ManplainingInside Higher Ed, Academic 'Mansplaining' 101:

“Let her speak, please!” That’s what a member of the audience yelled at last weekend’s World Science Festival in New York during a panel on Pondering the Imponderables: The Biggest Questions of Cosmology. Video of the incident has since gone viral, with many calling it a prime example of "mansplaining" and general sexism.

Veronika Hubeny, a professor of physics at the University of California, Davis, was the only woman on the panel, moderated by the philosopher Jim Holt. She didn’t get much of a chance to speak during the first hour of the discussion, and when she finally did begin to talk, Holt cut her off several times and described some of her own theories for her — hence the “mansplaining" charges. An audience member finally asked him to let Hubeny speak, to applause and cheers. (That audience member, an actress and disability rights activist, has since said on social media that she spoke up because no other scientist had.) Holt said he was getting heckled but apologized for talking "too much."

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There should be a related term for "lawsplaining", i.e. erudite law professors who ask lengthy "questions" but are really trying to score points for his or her favored theory...

Posted by: Enrique | Jun 13, 2017 3:24:48 AM

There was a NYT article this week about a woman who moved to Sweden as a girl. A boy tried to push the girl in front of her, and she punched the boy in the mouth. This is more effective than complaining.

Posted by: mike livingston | Jun 13, 2017 4:16:46 AM

I was once giving a talk at Cornell and another member of the panel, from Yale, interrupted me because he didn't like the point I was making. I told him to shut up and that he would have his chance after me. He shut, never spoke to me after that, and it was no loss at all. He was a man. I am a man. Was what he did "mansplaining" or just rude and arrogant behavior? Such people are in limited number but they are out there although I think it is their smugness and arrogance directed at most people and not inevitably gender based. Plus, why (I actually know) are we inventing these new terms for easily identified behavior that has always simply been "bad form"? Leverage, power grab, shaming, control are possibilities.

Posted by: David | Jun 13, 2017 7:34:11 AM

Maybe it's just me, but I found the discussion to be far more interesting than the alleged mansplaining micro-aggression committed by the moderator, whose chief sin seemed to be that he was so excited by Dr. Hubeny’s published insights that he talked too much about them at the expense of Dr. Hubeny.

Posted by: Mike Petrik | Jun 13, 2017 12:21:57 PM

Actually, it is as presented (which may be different from what it actually was) a story of a self-centered prof running his mouth (which philosophers will do if you wind them up). Doesn't have much to do with how men and women interact in academic settings.

Posted by: Art Deco | Jun 13, 2017 2:33:15 PM

Man, it sure would be nice to be able to tell rude people to shut up and have that be the end of the matter. Unfortunately, many women who do precisely that get told to stop being "hysterical" or "bitchy" or to not take out the fact it is "time of the month" on men. Being called a mansplainer for bad behavior seems like a really mild form of trying to shame people into compliance with socially acceptable behavior. If you want women to act more like men, call out the folks who shame women in other ways for doing so.

Posted by: token female commenter | Jun 14, 2017 10:25:21 AM

"Being called a mansplainer for bad behavior seems like a really mild form of trying to shame people into compliance".

Only one major problem with that: It is completely and obnoxiously sexist, which is what I thought we are trying to eliminate. It also demonstrates exactly the sort of double-standard that undermines women's legitimate grievances.

Posted by: Rob T. | Jun 14, 2017 4:49:14 PM

What kind of micro aggression is committed when a garrulous, big city Slicker does not let a good ole Boy or Gal from the South get a word in edgewise...and then claims (even sincerely believes) that Southerners are just not as sharp?

Posted by: MG | Jun 15, 2017 4:57:32 AM