In a truly embarrassing interaction, a man decided that explaining Wimbledon to former professional tennis player and coach Martina Navratilova was a good idea. It takes a lot of bravery to log onto Twitter and start mansplaining the most prestigious tennis tournament to a legendary player of the game, but mustering up bravery is no issue when you know everything.
The Twitter user tagged Martina Navratilova and spoke about why Wimbledon works and described it as true competition. Navratilova, who has won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles and 10 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles in her career, wasted no time before replying, “Are you trying to actually tell me what Wimbledon is all about?”
Her replay caught the attention of many of her followers and soon, the mansplainer got what he had asked for. One user left a sly remark, “Come on Martina don’t you know anything about professional tennis.” Meanwhile, other users brought up their own experiences with mansplaining.
From social media to interacting with friends at parties to attending meetings with colleagues, mansplaining is often right around the corner. Women often find their expertise gently wiped away when a dude slides into a conversation with, “let me explain”. It is amusing to see men ramble on about women-centric issues as if they know them better than we do. But mansplaining becomes even more problematic, and a form of erasure of women’s voices, when it happens in professional or public spaces.
Mansplaining Wimbledon To Martina Navratilova: Why would anyone do that?
Mansplaining is when a man explains something in a condescending and patronising manner with the incorrect assumption that they know more about the topic than the other person (read woman) does. The unsolicited explanation is time-consuming and insulting.
In the aforementioned case, it was a Twitter user explaining Wimbledon to a professional player who has won the women’s singles title at Wimbledon a record nine times. Not only does Navratilova have nine wins under her belt at Wimbledon, but she also has the highest number of wins in the women’s single.
Even if Navratilova was not a professional tennis player, being condescending while explaining a concept is rude and comes across as egotistical.
This incident reminded me of a poll that revealed that one out of eight men believed that they could score a point against Serena Williams. The poll surveyed the general population, not necessarily people who enjoyed playing tennis or professionally pursued the game.
Williams is one of the greatest women tennis players of all times, who has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles and had a service that once travelled 205 kilometres per hour. Yet a staggering 12 percent of men believed that could score a point against her. Meanwhile, only three percent of the women believed they could score a point against Williams.
The reaction to the poll results resulted in a viral tweet that mocked people who believed that could score against tennis legend Williams.
Suggested Reading: Why Men Can’t Refrain From Mansplaining Female Anatomy
Why do men tend to trivialise women’s achievements and talent? The assumption that a member of the general public could score a point against someone considered to be one of the greatest tennis players is entrenched in misogyny. It implies that no matter how talented or skilled a female player is, men will still assume they are more skilled.
This assumption carries over to how men communicate with women, and why they believe that women need their unsolicited explanations.
Mansplaining And Communication
Mansplaining may be a new term, but the act has been around for centuries. A study found that established gender roles influence how people communicate with each other and discovered that men are more likely to interrupt someone who is talking.
The expectation that men must know everything and be more knowledgeable often leads to them attempting to take charge of the conversation, even if they do not have sufficient knowledge about the topic.
Women are also expected to be more social and accommodating and are less likely to interrupt someone while they are speaking.
Together, these differences in the forms of communication preferred by different genders cause a hindrance to communication.
What Is The Issue With Mansplaining?
While mansplaining may seem like a trivial issue that doesn’t affect us, the way people communicate with each other shows how much they are valued.
Mansplaining also enforces gender inequality and stereotypes about women being less intelligent than men. Due to the presumption that a woman is less knowledgeable and less competent, men assume that they are entitled to provide explanations or steer the conversation in a direction that they deem fit.
There is a huge difference between explaining and mansplaining. An explanation is often asked for while with mansplaining the person assumes that their explanation is required or wanted. So dear men, before interrupting a conversations with your expert views, learn to read the room. Ask yourself, does anyone ask for an explanation from you, or are you doing so just out of compulsion?
Views expressed are the author’s own.