EW Mansplaining Men patronising women has become such a hot topic they’ve invented a whole new word, writes Sarah Garden. It’s a newly coined term for an age-old issue. Mansplaining: when a man interrupts a woman to explain something in a condescending or misogynistic manner. Last month, a prime example of this went viral when a female Lebanese TV anchor, Rima Karaki, silenced a London-based radical because he took mansplaining too far. The short clip shows Rima trying to guide her male interviewee back to the topic when he begins a superfluous tangent. On seeing his anger, she tries to calm the situation. “Please don’t get all worked up,” Rima asks. “We respect you and know you want to give a complete answer.” He tells her to “shut up” and states that “it’s beneath me to be interviewed by you”. Fed up, Rima switches off his microphone, and moves on with the show. While there has been some debate as to whether the exchange was sexist – some translators disagree that the interviewee used a gender-specific insult – it’s certainly opened up a can of chauvinistic worms. Women in the corporate world have, in particular, come forward to say mansplaining is a huge problem. And the stats support their concern, with a paper published in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology showing that women are interrupted almost three times as much as men during conversations. Another study by Brigham Young University revealed that in an average boardroom situation, men dominate 75 per cent of the discussion. The issue was first thrown open in 2008 with a mocking essay, Men Explain Things To Me, by Rebecca Solnit. The tidal wave of memes and hashtags that followed almost broke the Internet. However, it wasn’t until last year that the author compiled her essays into a book of the same title that mansplaining found its way into offline vocabulary. In recent interviews, Rebecca has said that, unbelievably, she has had interactions with men who have tried to explain her own book to her. Irony at its finest. It’s clearly something that resonates with scores of women. Not just down to the thousands of blogs sharing personal stories, but the fact mansplaining is now in the Oxford English Dictionary. Australia went even further, with the Macquarie Dictionary of Australian English naming it their 2014 word of the year. Unfortunately it’s not the only word that’s worked its way into modern discourse to explain various forms of pompous male behaviour. Manterupting: when a man rudely cuts off a woman while she’s talking, and Bropropriating: when a man hijacks a woman’s idea and claims it as his own, are also commonly used. It’s an issue that’s been gaining momentum over the past year, not least with Sheryl Sandberg’s Ban Bossy campaign, encouraging women to be loud and proud with their ideas. Writer Clementine Ford’s #questionsformen is the newest outlet for everyday sexism concerns, and thousands have tweeted rhetorical questions such as, “Have you ever read a thinkpiece by a respected female writer explaining why and how men aren’t funny?” A quick search of the hashtag shows that the feed is inundated with replies from men answering the questions, or just being plain chauvinistic. However, I’d argue that not letting them respond to direct questions is a contradiction – womansplaining, if you will. The most refreshing thing I’ve seen in the backlash of Rima Karaki’s viral clip is among the comment sections of websites and blogs. There were so many men sticking up for her, inspired to see such confidence, not just from a woman, but from anyone, in the face of someone so aggressively bullish. This correlates to the growing success of the #HeForShe campaign, fronted by our cover star Emma Watson.  Although there are lots of men who respect women’s opinions, the reality is that there are still far too many who don’t. Sadly, in the real world, we can’t just switch off their microphone.   Illustration: Soleil Ignacio