“I think you should give yourself the opportunity to learn from me.”
Men: This is NOT how you talk yourself into a second date.
Let me femsplain:
One of the most surprising things about online dating this year has been the trend of men who want to mansplain things to me. (Mansplaining, for those who don’t know, is a term invented by Rebecca Solnit in her now famous essay, “Men Explain Things to Me.” It refers to the common practice of some men who seek to enlighten women about whatever subject comes up–even when the woman has superior credentials in the subject area.
I certainly don’t think I have superior credentials in dating, but I would argue that I understand myself and what I want pretty well. That’s why I was so surprised to find men mansplaining as a way to court me.
For example, over the summer, a poly guy messaged me. I don’t have problems with being poly in theory. In fact, I went on a couple of dates with a couple of poly guys over the summer. One of the things I found most daunting was the time commitment. I work between 60-80 hours per week and have two nights a week reserved for specific groups of friends. If I factor in time with other friends and my fairly frequent play-going, I don’t have time to date more than one person. I explained this.
His response was 761 words, mansplaining that I need to “break [my] routine” to find a guy. He also said I should not go looking for “Mr. Right”: “Mr. Right does not appear to be, since you probably would have found him by now. The other option of getting to know someone new and build trust in such a relationship, would detract from the time spent looking for Mr. Right, but might also introduce you to new experiences . . . [sic].” In other words, it would behoove me to go poly and abandon the lifestyle I currently enjoy.
I wasn’t complaining about being busy. For the most part, and in most ways, I really love my life. I would just like to fit a boyfriend into it, for the further support, the further companionship, the sex, and the oxytocin.
In this guy’s defense, he started his missive with a caveat: “The last thing you probably want to hear is advice from someone you don’t know and knows essentially nothing about you, but . . .”
Most mansplainers aren’t that self aware.
I went out on a date with one guy. I was willing to give him a second date, and I warned him when I gave him my number after the first date that I don’t like to be texting all damn day.
He then texted me all damn day, mostly about how he was being good and not doing so (which was doubly annoying).
I didn’t answer every message (I don’t always–especially if the message seems like a closing point to a conversation, as opposed to something that needs an answer). One day, after what I read as a conversation ending message from him, he didn’t message back. I didn’t really think about it–I was gearing up to go to England, trying to get a quarter finished, and suffering from a ridiculous injury involving skin necrosis.
A couple of weeks later, I got a message from him, shaming me for doing the fade-away. He lectured me about how I treat people. What was interesting, from my point of view, was the fact that he assumed this is how I respond to “people”–not him, but people. I will freely admit that I don’t always handle breakups or the “no, we can’t have a second date” conversation perfectly, but I don’t just stop answering people. My perception of this situation was different from his. We talked about something one day (he was offering to text me FSU football updates and I was saying that I DETEST football and thus would not appreciate those texts), and then neither of us texted the next day. Or the next.
Still, he wanted me to know that I needed to behave differently and argued that he was just trying to help me out.
Amazingly, I resisted trying to help him about, though he had a lot to learn about not annoying the shit out of people.
However, the worst case of mansplaining was the guy I quoted above.
In the Spring, I agreed to go out on a date. It was one of my first after the breakup. The guy did a lot to turn me off even before he showed up. He wasn’t working because he was on disability, which of course isn’t an issue in and of itself, but at the time, I was taking care of my disabled aunt–I had been for about a year–and I had developed an aversion to adding more of that kind of stress to my life. Strike one.
I got to the restaurant quite a long time before he did–my own physical therapy went a lot shorter than I thought it would–and ordered a glass of wine. He then messaged me, asking me to change the location of the meet closer to his house, since he’d just gotten out of the shower and hadn’t yet looked up when the buses ran. He doesn’t work, and I was his only commitment that day, but he was going to be late? Strike two.
He then appeared, looking not very like his picture. Strike three. We had an okay conversation; I went home, started to feel a little nauseated, and spent the rest of the day vomiting because of my abdominal migraine or whatever the hell is wrong with me.
It also occurred to me that I wasn’t really ready to date. I took myself off OKC to give myself more time.
He asked me for another date. I declined, citing my need for a longer break before entering the dating world
He then texted me for HOURS. He thought I shouldn’t be shallow–he assumed his looks were my only issue. He told me that I would find him more attractive if I got to know him. He said I needed to be more “open” to the universe (which seemed to mean him) and said he had a lot to teach me, if I would only let myself be taught.
I hadn’t needed another reason to say no, but that kind of pretentious bullshit would have been enough just on its own.
A couple of months later, I went back on OKC. That same day, he texted me again, wondering if I would like to date or be friends. I said no. He then mansplained all the same shit again, about the things I could learn, about how I shouldn’t be closed off, etc.
A few more months went by and he texted AGAIN, wanting to be friends.
Me: I’m not inclined.
I didn’t see why he was surprised. We had been on one date, months and months before. I had rejected more contact with him TWICE.
He started mansplaining. I didn’t ‘splain things back to him about stalking or not taking hints, but I did mention that his lectures about what I could learn from him were grating and thus furthering my resolve to stay away.
Him: Okay, fine. I’m tired of beating my head against your stubborn wall.
Trying to get the last word with someone like that just prolongs the conversation, so I let it go.
But this is what I wanted to say:
“I put a wall up against guys like you a long time ago. There’s a barbed-wire fence, a no trespassing notice, and a little placard that says, ‘Don’t even think about fucking here.’ You banged your head against the wall, despite all warnings. Then you did it again. Then you did it again. The wall is only sightly annoyed. You have a bloody head. What in the world do you think I could learn from a man who hasn’t learned to take a god-damned hint? I hope this has been a lesson to you.”
This poster is available on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/248542105/no-mansplaining-zone-feminist-poster