Monday, January 28, 2013

Mansplaining and Impostor Syndrome

There is an academia-specific mansplaining-anecdote blog. If you are female, feminist, procrastinating, or the trifecta, there goes your day.

Personally, though, I've been lucky in that I've never been mansplained to by anyone at my own graduate university. But I have experienced this on other occasions, in the form of being quizzed about basic facts having to do with my area of research, in this kind of role-switching thing wherein the mansplainer is now the expert and I'm the pupil who must prove she isn't a complete fraud. (Thus impostor syndrome, no?) Oh, and plenty of times in college, but I happened to attend a school which, though wonderful in many ways, has a bit of a 'that-guy' problem.

The problem I always find with mansplaining-anecdote genre is that these must inevitably be stories of triumph, or at least after-the-fact triumph. Of knowing you were right, of not doubting yourself in the least, but of having been talked down to by ignorant dude. When in fact, to get at what's really problematic about mansplaining, you need this other angle, the part where the recipient of mansplanation doubts her own abilities, questions her own authority. The thing is, few among us, men or women, are entirely competent all the time. Yet in my experience, women are vastly more likely to think being less than 100% means not being good enough to hold whichever position.

6 comments:

Petey said...

I'm not sure you really understand how blogging works. You need to include more keywords for better SEO.

I assume you can get a grasp on this with some diligent research, although you might want to take the blog on hiatus while you work through the issues.

It really is good that you are making an effort here, even if your blogging work is not quite up to snuff as is.

Phoebe said...

Not bad, but goes to show, that which is intended as mansplaining never rings quite as true as well it just flows naturally.

Petey said...

I still want bonus points for being able to quickly figure out at 7:30 am and on my first cup of coffee that the key to an example of mansplaining was the facile use of jargon...

Phoebe said...

I'm happy to award bonus points for pre-coffee, unless the endeavor was something like piloting a plane or brain surgery.

Petey said...

"I'm happy to award bonus points for pre-coffee, unless the endeavor was something like piloting a plane"

I highly recommend you check out the recent documentary Flight, which makes a compelling case that pilots who don't have a proper morning wakeup routine actually outperform pilots who do.

Writing requires sleep and coffee. Piloting a commercial airplane, not so much.

Phoebe said...

Er, thanks for... explaining!