Aside from all that ... the ideal is argument, the presentation of non-trivial truth claims, in a conversational tone that invites further argument rather than seeking to end it. Explainering seems an excess of this virtue; the namby-pamby refusal to engage in reasoned argument an insufficiency; I prefer an excess to an insufficiency, especially in this weeny age.Argumentation, debate, all lovely. But that's not what "Explainering" is. If Withywindle had been able to get past the fact that Solnit's on the left and threw in a few gratuitous jabs at her political opponents - something I don't think Withywindle can claim never to do wrt his political opponents - he might have caught that this is not at all what Solnit's talking about.
"Explainering" is if a woman is the world expert in some area, and a guy who's read one article - one! or less! - on the matter brings it up with her in a tone that makes clear he's confident she doesn't really know anything about it. He may ask her some idiotically trivial detail about it in order to put her on the defensive, to make sure that he's in the position of power. He's not doing diddly squat to further knowledge, or even to further intellectual masturbation. He's just revealing himself incapable of interacting with a woman as her inferior - when he would, in an equivalent situation with a male expert, defer. (It's also what happens when two individuals, both of unremarkable intelligence/expertise, get to talking, and the man, neither the woman's intellectual superior nor inferior, uses his body language and tone to talk down to the woman and do what he can to make her feel like a child.)
Women on the receiving end of this variant of B.S. are in a lose-lose situation. Anything that reads as defensiveness causes Dude to spiral into a web of assumptions - no doubt Ms. Expert here just got where she is because of affirmative action for women, because she slept with the real expert, Mr. Expert, or because Mr. Experts generally wish they could get into her pants and keep her career going with that goal in mind. And saying something like, 'Actually, I won a MacArthur for my work on that very topic' will, to Dude, read as defensiveness. Then there's the option of letting him think he's made a Very Good Point, and addressing it - this ends up being the way to go, getting-through-the-day-wise, but it's sinking to Dude's level, accepting what Mr. Expert wouldn't have to accept, because he'd be allowed to declare himself Expert without anyone think he was protesting too much.
Then there's the rest of Withywindle's post, which seems a bit much coming from someone who blog-interacts with plenty of argumentative "Goilz":
Yeah, it [debating/arguing a point] is a game, and maybe boys do enjoy it more. I think sometimes Da Boyz realize it is a game, when Da Goilz do not; Deze Goilz recoil from what they take as serious, when it is not. And other Goilz, like my interlocutor, know it's a game, and simply choose not to play. But then, some of Da Boyz don't realize it's a game either, and play for keeps, with all their puny and unwarranted self-respect at stake--and enough of them that this makes playing the game unpleasant. Ad utrumque training helps so much.
Gendered male? Why, yes, the point is to practice asserting "You should go to bed with me" or "You should marry me", in so confident a tone of self-evident fact that the Word becomes Fact. Opinionating, therefore, is a male puberty ritual that too often calcifies into habit. And given the survival of Explainering types, the practice must have positive effects for reproductive survival. Oh, if only we reproduced by sporulation, conversation would be so much more pleasant.Again, lose-lose. If I point out the wrongness of this, I'm either a) declaring myself not a real woman (on account of liking to argue points and having committed the gender-inverting act that was being opinion editor of the UChicago student paper; on account of thinking it's not only totally OK by me and not infrequently done in our society for women to propose sex/sometimes even marriage to men; on account of quoting from "Monty Python" and not even one of the movies in the post title - no amount of Zappos shoe-ogling will counteract this!), or b) being a flustered, defensive, humorless woman who's all like this like totally offends me as a feminist, waah, how unfair.
So instead, I'll just mention the inconsistency here, which is that Withywindle is on the one hand annoyed that women aren't more argumentative, and on the other declaring that sexual tension itself derives from a more fundamental difference from which come the divergent attitudes towards pontificating in college op-ed pages. The only way to reconcile these is to say that his point is that men are the superior sex, forced, by the unfortunate fact that they by and large prefer women to men romantically, to interact with those bores.
Meh. There are - and fear not, female readers who've yet to locate any - men out there, some of whom are exceptionally Expert, who do not "Explainer" at women. If you find one, and you find him good-looking, and he doesn't, I don't know, have a history of torturing animals or anything, he's probably all right.
Of course, if getting talked down to does it for you, as Dan Savage would say, you need a partner with whom you're compatible. Withywindle's post can even be refuted from a traditional-roles standpoint. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that many women like being with men more knowledgeable than themselves. Let's say this is a dynamic that - due to nature or nurture, for better or for worse, because feminism has yet to destroy it or because it's just part of the beautiful framework of permanent and essential gender differences, take your pick - has stuck. The problem with the condescending, know-it-all stance is that it's not about knowledge or persuasiveness, but about creating the illusion of superiority. As with other male attempts at creating illusions of superiority, born out of their own insecurity, they may snag the occasional insecure woman, but there will be a whole lot of women seeing through it. A woman who does, in fact, know quite a bit will not swoon for a man who pretends to know more, even if she might for a man who actually did.