Rex Kramer wrote: gnash wrote: Rex Kramer wrote:
BRD-98 wrote:If "mansplaining" is a real problem, so is a hypothetical equivalent, "womansplaining."
Yeah, and white lives matter, too!
Ugh. As much as I loved your previous post, this one contains a terrible analogy. "Black Lives Matter" does not project a message of reverse racism, either taken literally or as actually used.
There are PLENTY of people out there who disagree with you and say things like, "Oh, so you're saying that white lives don't matter? That Black lives are the only lives that matter? Or are you just saying that Black lives matter more
than white lives? Either way, that is so racist!" (There is also the "So cops' lives don't matter?" rhetoric, which is logically the same but does not specifically involve reverse racism.) We can agree that those are neither the intended uses nor the most logical literal interpretations, but that won't change the facts that those readings exist and that the diversity of the English language means that there is some weak justification for such readings.
I am not buying any "weak justification". That interpretation is malicious, stupid, or both. Yes, there are PLENTY of malicious and stupid people. That doesn't make their interpretation valid.
gnash wrote:The term "mansplaining" clearly conveys reverse sexism.
There is justification for that position, too -- the very use of a gendered term always runs the risk of sexism, for one thing -- and I will even grant that people sometimes misuse the term in a sexist way, to dismiss the opinions of men just because they are men; but those people are clearly not employing the original intended use. If your true complaint is about the misuse of the term, I am on your bandwagon, for both humanitarian and linguistic reasons. But the fact that there are some people out there misusing the term does not invalidate the word entirely. I am still allowed to use the word "literally" properly, despite the prevalent improper use.
I don't see how the term is misused and how there can be a proper use of it, outside of comedy (where it is also not very good anymore because it's getting hackneyed). I don't see how you can interpret the word so that it does not imply that the actions of the person being criticized stem directly from that person being a man.
And the assertion that "mansplaining" is inherently offensive -- with the concurrent citation of patently ridiculous misuses of the word -- runs the risk of denigrating not just the word but the concept it represents: the disregard of the value of women's knowledge and opinions based on societal messages about women's worth.
That's a fallacious argument. A worthy concept can be expressed in words that don't pervert it or turn the speaker into an equivalent of the intended target of critique. But there are plenty of terrible words commonly being used (or, rather, misused) for something intended to sound positive. Take, for example, Citizens' Crusade Against Poverty
and many other uses of "crusade". Obviously well-intentioned, but named for genocidal pillage campaigns. I hope I don't need to mention how much worse the word sounds today than in 1964, with all our military adventures in the Middle East that happened in the meantime. Yet, why would the fact that "crusade" is an inherently offensive word denigrate the concept of various positive campaigns to which it has been applied, such as efforts to lift people from poverty? (You could say similar things about "War on Poverty", but not every war has been as evil as the Crusades.)
This is precisely what happened to the term "politically correct", which started off as a well-intentioned term to gently point out culturally inconsiderate behavior. The misuses of the term were wildly played up by that portion of our society that does not believe it should be forced to admit or confront cultural inconsiderateness, until in the eyes of the public "political correctness" became a grotesque symbol for overreaching closeminded authority. And now the phrase is used as a cudgel to beat down any criticism of actually culturally inconsiderate behavior.
That's another term that clearly never should have been used, and no one in their right mind would ever have come up with it. The connotation of language imposed from authority, of Newspeak, is unavoidable. Imagine how those of us who grew up under an authoritarian system of government feel about the term.
It is a well-used reactionary ploy that Orwell would recognize: if someone attempts to identify a previously unarticulated (or not well articulated) injustice by coining a new term for it, first you ridicule the term, and eventually you can ridicule the injustice as well.
Orwell would also recognize that how you coin a new term influences the way people will think about the concept. If the new term implies that negative behavior is conditioned by gender, its usage will make people think the behavior is in fact caused by gender (and will, in turn, make people of that gender defensive about it). If the term implies political authority over language, it will make proponents more likely to impose such authority, and it will make people who want to perpetuate prejudices through language oppose legitimate criticism by claiming victimhood at the hands of such authority.
I understand why those of us who care about language and logic would be offended by the misuses of the term "mansplaining", but I would not allow those concerns to play into the hands of those who would just prefer we not even recognize that women are sometimes treated poorly because they are women, by men who do so because of what society has taught them.
Caring about language and logic, I am a bit offended by such an argument. (OK, I'm kidding about "offended", I just think it's a bad argument.) I won't repeat why, as I've already explained it. BTW, men are also sometimes treated poorly because they are men, by women who do so because of what society has taught them. (I won't get into "who does more" - both are prevalent, both are bad, and neither can justify the other.) We don't have a word for it and, frankly, I don't think we should. We definitely
shouldn't if such a word carried a negative connotation about women's nature.