The mansplaining hotline: a simple explanation that even women will understand

A Swedish union has set up a number that women can call when men start explaining things to them in a patronising manner. Is it a much-needed initiative or just a stunt?

Name: The mansplaining hotline.

Age: Brand new.

Purpose: Allowing female workers to report their patronising male colleagues.

I think you’ll find “condescending” is a more appropriate term. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. This sense of superiority is inherent workplace sexism in action.

Hey, don’t get mad, I’m just trying to help. No, you’re not. You’re subtly putting me in my place just because you’ve been conditioned to adhere to outdated gender stereotypes. You’re mansplaining.

Have you heard of mansplaining? It’s when men feel the need to … Stop it! I know what mansplaining is. I just accused you of it. No wonder there’s a hotline for this.

Tell me about this hotline. It’s a Swedish initiative set up by trade union Unionen, which represents more than half a million workers. Whenever someone feels suppressed at work, they can call the number and seek help.

From whom? From Swedish scientists, comedians and politicians eager to get a hold of this minor yet pervasive annoyance.

Why bother? I could tell you anything about mansplaining you could ever need to know. I don’t doubt that for a moment. However, Unionen quotes an American Psychological Association study that claims men “tend to overestimate their intelligence to a much greater extent than women”.

Isn’t this extremely sexist? Well, the issue is being thrashed out on social media at the moment. Some, inevitably, are claiming that the hotline is contributing to an increasingly polarised culture where everyone is either a victim or an aggressor.

That sounds about right. However, it could also be argued that this reaction is exactly what Unionen wanted. The hotline is a stunt designed to provoke debate, which might make some men more aware of their behaviour.

Or everyone will just shout at each other on Twitter about it until they all die alone and unhappy. Well, yes, that is what tends to happen with these things. But, hey, worth a shot, right?

Have you heard of the filter bubble? It’s a social media phenomenon where … Yes, I’ve heard of the filter bubble, you sexist pig.

Do say: “Don’t delay, call the mansplaining hotline today.”

Don’t say: “Let me explain what a hotline is.”

The GuardianTramp

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