I have a mansplainer sighting to report.
It is no coincidence that I say this after spending last night with the New York Giants and the Carolina Panthers at the only bar in town that gets the NFL Network. For the next four months, any building with a TV has a good shot at becoming the hangout for the mansplainiest mansplainers in all Mansplainia. Because all of them seem to watch football.
This one showed warning signs: the insistence on eye contact, the fascination with what I was ordering, the refusal to read disinterested body language. Sure enough, five minutes past kickoff, class was in session with Professor Bad Polo Shirt.
It’s possible the guy was only using a common interest to make conversation. Trouble was, he did all the talking. And if he thought this was a common interest, why didn’t he think I know what pass interference is?
As Rebecca Solnit notes in her awesome essay Men Explain Things To Me, a woman in a typically male arena brings out a certain type of man. As a woman at a sports bar, you meet a lot of men who tell you it’s awesome you watch football, but somehow believe you must not know anything about it. Every year I have someone tell me who coaches my own team.
Sure, there are many women who don’t know about football and who don’t like it. But dare I say that most women who don’t get football also don’t opt to spend their Thursday nights alone at sports bars to watch a game. It was the charming gender essentialism that says “girls don’t get sports” that meant I got to leave at halftime to get away from my would-be mentor. At least the game wasn’t great.
This is just a reminder to all of us – mansplaining is not in our heads. There will always be a man that chooses to see the cultural narratives about your gender instead of seeing you. Sometimes you’ll fight it, sometimes you won’t have the energy. But either way, you’re not alone.