Mansplaining: You know what you need to do | Moment's Notice


Last updated 3/2/2023 at 9:57am

"Men explain things to me, and facts do not get in their way" – Rebecca Solnit

Molly Tuttle, one of the most extraordinary bluegrass singers, composers, and guitar players, won a Grammy this year for her album “Crooked Tree.”

Tuttle’s genius came to the fore more than six years ago when she was the first woman to be nominated for, and to win, the International Bluegrass Music Association’s award for Guitarist of the Year. She won it again the following year.

A striking part of a recent interview with her was about how few women are in the upper echelons of bluegrass or recognized as true talents. When asked to comment about being the first-ever woman to even be nominated for the guitar award, she pointed out that the bluegrass community has come a long way in recognizing women’s contributions to the genre.

The male-dominated world of guitar playing, though, still has a way to go. She and her friends now avoid going into unfamiliar guitar stores because, as women, they are “treated like we know nothing about guitars.”

Think about it. The best bluegrass guitar player in the WORLD, two years running, and if she walks into a guitar store, the men working there assume she needs to be helped to understand the difference between a fret and a fingerboard because she is a woman.

Well, most women do not have to think too hard about it, as we are utterly familiar.

“Mansplaining,” the best slang term I ever heard, is that wonderfully condescending, overconfident, and often inaccurate information-telling by men to women based on their false assumption that men know more than women.

The woman who coined the term, Rebecca Solnit, came up with it after having her own research mansplained to her by an academic colleague. She even wrote a book about it, presenting the data of how women are often seen as less credible than men, their insights often dismissed unless validated by a man’s opinion.

As she puts it, mansplaining is a widespread phenomenon that "trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men's unsupported overconfidence."

Ah, that blissful overconfidence that some men are blessed/plagued with.

Psychologist Daniel Kahneman calls this overconfidence “a powerful source of illusions, primarily determined by the quality and coherence of the story that you can construct, not by its validity.”

I am all for self-confidence, but there is a difference between believing you are a capable human who is able to contribute and assuming you are the more capable and better able to contribute.

The business world is rife with mansplainers.

Just this week, I arranged a phone call (after countless emails) to reach consensus with a professional service provider who repeatedly presented an incorrect view of some legal documents we were working with.

Soon after we began talking, he indicated that he would need to more thoroughly read the documents. (So he had been arguing for days based on his expectations of what was in the documents.)

Finally, 20 minutes into the conversation, he finally and very begrudgingly acknowledged a potential error. Well, he did not actually admit he was wrong or apologize for the time it took to get there, but rather said, “I guess I agree with you now.” (Isn’t that nice?)

Although I was happy the issue was resolved, the days of mansplaining had cost me time and money.

Ask any woman, and I am sure she will have a handful of similar stories that come to mind immediately.

There are far larger problems facing women today than mansplaining.

On March 8, we celebrate International Women’s Day, a day to honor the achievements and contributions of women and to shine a light on the continued discrimination and oppression of women around the world and here at home.

We will stay focused on the big issues, and perhaps we can also hope that every year, there are more Molly Tuttle’s out there – more women recognized for their knowledge, more women confident to forge new paths, and more women who understand that talent is a gift to be shared, not ’splained.


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