Sunday, May 5, 2013


One of the things that I most like about Facebook is how my very diverse group of friends bring such varied items to my attention - which often in serendipitous fashion form some type of gestalt.

This morning my attention was called to an interesting article in Mother Jones "The Problem with Men Explaining Things," by Rebecca Solnit. Solnit was complaining about the phenomenon of having to listen to men explain some technical or historical facts to her - men who knew little or nothing about the subject on which she was a recognized, published expert.

The article itself was very interesting, but as is often the case the comments had more to reveal than the article itself. A lengthy argument had broken out in the comments over whether or not women were equally guilty of "explaining things" to men as the reverse. Tempers flared, names got called. Little light was shed.

I have to say all my personal experiences of having sociological, technological and scientific things on which I have expertise "explained" to me by someone with less expertise have come from men. However, later this morning also on Facebook, I happened across some comments left by some female friends on a post I made yesterday, and realized that women do engage in a different type of "explaining" related to emotions.

My experience with women, beginning with my mother, is that many women presume to be experts not only on their own emotions, but on yours. When they hear or read the emotional statements of someone else, they translate them into their own emotional matrix, and then "explain" your feelings back to you. The intent is well-meaning. They are trying to be kind, sympathetic, and supportive, but since they have translated what you have said into their own emotional matrix, their interpretation of the meaning is often 180 degrees off - because not everyone feels the same things.

While it is pleasant to know that I am viewed by some as kind and nurturing, I do not feel any sense of loss for not having been a mother, and do not need to be reassured that I am "really" a mothers for having cared for others.

1 comment:

Maggie May said...

People in general, whether men or women, are very complex creatures and its almost impossible to stereotype. However, women do seem to be governed by their emotions and men don't. (as a rule.)
Maybe the book, Men Are From Mars..... Women From Venus, has a lot of truth in it!
Maggie x

Nuts in May