Last night I sat down to write a blog post. A couple of minutes after I had sat down, Markus came and asked if he could watch a movie, Vaiana (Moana), while I was writing. Thirty minutes into the movie I still hadn’t written a single word. After another 5 minutes I closed my computer and decided to watch the movie instead. And I’m glad I did.
Vaiana felt fresh. Perhaps it wasn’t a coincidence that Markus wanted to see this movie today. The more I think about it, the more I get the feeling that it was ment to be. This feel good, Disney movie, made me realize that something has been bugging me for a couple of weeks. Something that I, and many others, experience on a daily basis.
The movie Moana is about a young girl who is about to become the chief of her village.
The human world is cursed and she ventures out into the unknown to save her people. She goes out alone, gets help from a manly semi-god to save the world, and then goes back home. Alone. I love the fact that she comes back home alone.
She doesn’t fall in love with the man in the story and the happy ending doesn’t involve a marriage. She saves her people, she’s a hero – end of story. A girl who gets to try her wings without anyone questioning her or trying to tell her how to do things. That is not something you see in many movies. Nor is it something that happens very often in real life.
Over the last couple of weeks I have had so many men mansplaining things to me.
Like how to do my job, implying that I am not doing it right. I’m so tired of men (YES, 99% of the time it’s men, not said that women can’t do it too) giving me “friendly tips” on how to “make things better”. Don’t get me wrong, I love people who genuinely want to help. Those who give of their time, knowledge and experience because they truly want to help you, become the best version of you. Those who help without wanting anything for themselves. But that’s not what these friendly tips are.
What I’m talking about are those who “help” by pushing you down.
That kind of help comes with an insinuation that you’re not good enough – that maybe you weren’t right for this from the start. All the mansplaining I have gotten lately have all been from people who have said that they “want to help”. And I just get so tired. Because nothing of what these people are doing is helping anyone. It’s just a manifestation of their own assumed knowledge and experience. It has no other purpose than to push me down.
I’m the kind of person who usually turns the other cheek. When someone is acting like a douche, I breathe. Rethink the situation. Give them another chance. When someone mansplain things to me, I usually just nod and then shut them down by knowing my field to perfection. But I know that there are more women out there who gets this type of “help” on a regular basis – and since I have a platform where I can share, I feel like I need to do more.
Throughout my twenty-seven years in life I have had so many men trying to tell me how to live my life, how to do my job or even how to breathe and get dressed, in order to get through life. But the thing is, I don’t need your opinion.
I could be angry right now, because I have every reason to be. But I choose not to. I’m a good person who always try to help, selflessly. And instead of being angry, I see the opportunity here to educate and help. And you know what? I will not ask for anything in return. If you learn these things – I’m the first one to be happy for you. Because I do think learning these things will actually make your life profoundly better. And that, I give you for free.
Four things to consider when you want to offer someone your help, in order to avoid mansplaining
1.Before you reach out to offer your help – take a minute and reflect. Do I want to help this person – selflessly? If the answer is Yes – help. If it’s not, and you just want to show this person that you know more than he/she does and that you probably could do this better. Don’t offer your help.
2. Do a little research on the person you want to help – what kind of knowledge and experience does this person already have? If the person has a PhD in astrophysics for example, maybe a tip on basic science stuff isn’t considered help. If you too have a PhD in astrophysics, consider talking to this person as someone you might actually learn something from. Worst case scenario? You’ll learn something new.
3. Offer your help – but let the person you offer it to decide wether or not they want it. Sometimes we want to help someone, but the person we want to help have no interest in getting our help. If you want to help selflessly, let the person know that he/she can come ask you questions within your expertise whenever they like. And then back away. Maybe they will come, maybe not. Pushing your help onto someone who doesn’t want it, and getting angry when they don’t appreciate it, is not helping anyone, least of all yourself.
4. If you want to help, you need to listen. In order to really be able to help someone, you need to know what it is that this person might need help with. If you talk, but never listen, you will never know. If you actually listen, you might be able to help with something that is truly needed.
5. Understand that you might not have the bigger picture. We all know that it’s easier to play hockey when you’re sitting on the side watching. Once you get down on the ice it’s much harder. If you’re not this persons closest friend and ally, you don’t have the bigger picture. Yelling commands from the sideline is not helping. If you want to help, try to understand what it’s like down on the ice.
That’s my top five take on how to help someone. It all comes down to reflection and self awareness, something I talk about very often and that lies close to my heart. If you want to know more on how to practice these skills, I am more than happy to help!
Do you have more good ways to handle mansplaining? Write them in a comment below and I will add them to the list. Let’s educate together!