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Enough Already: Even TV Characters Are Guilty of Mansplaining

Culture

In mid-November, one of Sweden’s foremost Trade Unions set up a week-long hotline for women who were tired of being the victim of what’s now been termed mansplaining. A crime only now being recognized, mansplaining occurs when women are subjected to an unnecessarily long or irrelevant explanation by a man, that has no purpose other than the unimportant sharing of the decibel range of said man’s voice.


The hotline, inspiring a week of feministic furor, took on a life of its own and lead many to address the elephant in the room, or office: the moment when a woman feels talked down to by a man.
If you’re old enough to be reading this, you’re old enough to have been the subject of an over-explained and unnecessary tirade at the behest of a verbose gentleman. Whether they knew or not, and even if it was only your father over-explaining why the groceries go in certain parts of your kitchen storage is irrelevant. The very sad fact that mansplaining exists in adulthood is frustrating so we’ve decided to pick some of our favorite female TV leads and rant it out through their mansplaining victimization (and eventual series domination).

Grey’s Anatomy

Courtesy of ABC

While he might be this season’s heart throb, Alex Karev, who has been on the Grey’s cast since the very beginning was once the class misogynist we all hated back in Season 1, when both he and Dr. Burke lead many-a-mansplain to our leading ladies Meredith, Izzie and Christina over the course of the first couple of seasons. His behavior and general air of chauvinism had TV skeptics pipping him to be one of the first cut from the female-forward show in what has now become the infamous Grey’s kiss of death. Shonda Rhimes, show creator and writer, had other ideas and has since transformed his character into one of the most thoughtful and likeable men on the show, who is perhaps the most in tune with the womanly ways of the Grey-Sloan memorial world. Broody Burke however, was not so lucky.

Game of Thrones

Cersei Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen, arguably the two most formidable and scary women on the show have been the victim of mansplaining on multiple occasions throughout the years and throughout the seven kingdoms.
Cersei begrudgingly listened to her father over many seasons spell out and elongate plans (simply for the satisfaction of hearing his voice preside over a heated argument) until he eventually found himself dead and her sitting the very throne he never had, at the end of this most recent season. His unwitting denial of the power Cersei wields in King’s Landing landed him very literally, dead on a toilet. Hmph.

Daenarys on the other hand, and on the other side of the world, quickly rid herself of her mansplainer brother by having her hubby pour extremely hot liquid gold over his skull - a more direct approach that feminists abound found both ironic and very satisfying. She has been very quick over the series to edge out any man who condescends to speak down to her given her sex and undoubtedly will continue to do so when she arrives on the shores of Westeros. Do not mess with the queens on this show.

Power

Courtesy of Starz

Tasha Saint Patrick, or ’T’, may be a fierce mom, wife and businesswoman, but when it comes to making decisions regarding her husband’s underground crime network, her sex makes her persona-non-grata in husband Ghost’s male-dominated inner circle. Her opinion is veritably null and void when he and co-conspirator Tommy are making big-boy decisions that are continually explained to her in elementary-esque language. Both Ghost and Tommy are guilty of mansplanation to their ‘girls’ Tasha and Holly respectively yet while Holly(spoiler) perishes after taking too much into her own hands, T is very firmly holding her own in the empire, with trailers for the new season indicating she may even be running the show.

Friends

This timeless sitcom may star some of our best and brightest women from the Nineties, that does not however mean they were exempt from mansplaining perpetrators, and Ross Geller, resident know-it-all and serial divorcee was easily the worst offender. Having Monica as a lifetime punching bag for condescending mansplanations and pontificating did not mean that when manhood came around he was done with his would-be female victims.

Given his eventual proximity to ditzy Rachel and Phoebe his mansplaining only got worse over time and by the end of the entire series had nearly lost him his relationship with his child’s mother and would-be love of his love. It was only Rachel’s acceptance of him — warts, mansplaining and all — that brought her back to him. We’d like to believe she’s harassed the annoying trait out of him at this stage in their alternate Friends universe.

Career

Male Managers Afraid To Mentor Women In Wake Of #MeToo Movement

Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.


In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.

What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.

Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.

Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.

While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.

According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.

In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.


Source-Alex Brandon, AP

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.

Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.

The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.