Mansplaining

Mansplaining, or as I prefer, and am now coining “peoplesplaining”, is out of control.

This obsession to improve our lives by tweaking the fine details of our daily existence is misguided in my opinion.  Can’t see the forest through the trees if you need a cliché.

Maybe I missed it.  Is life so difficult that we need to improve ourselves by brushing our teeth quicker?  Or tying our shoes in a perfect knot that will never loosen?   I’m not discouraging any of these improvements to a person’s life or well-being.  I’m against constantly talking about it and ignoring the rest of the world around us.  If anyone needs to save time there are thousands of sites on the internet they can go to improve their skills.  Peoplesplaining is not needed and replacing it with conversations that are not boring would be the ideal.

I think it’s possible and might even be happening already.  I recently observed an interaction on a C-Train.

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Two teenage girls are on the train talking about snap-chatting boys and make-up or whatever teenage girls talk about, I wasn’t paying full attention in the beginning.  One girl leaves  and an older man sits beside her.  He’s 50-60, grey hair & moustache, blue jean jacket and pants, weathered — himself and his clothes.  And this being Calgary; he was kind enough to wear some snake skin cowboy boots to aid in this description.  No hat though, more of a construction cowboy than a drug-store cowboy seen around Stampede week.

When my daughter was a teenager, we travelled a lot but not always joined at the hip.  We would, and still do, not always sit beside each other, at times looking like strangers.  Easier for us as she’s ½ Asian and I’m 100% Arian right down to the blue eyes. Beside me she looks Asian, beside her mom she looks white.  We sit apart for no reason, we are fine with or without constant contact and nattering.   The point being, generally most men, not just cowboys, will pick an attractive female to sit beside instead of someone who looks like me.  I don’t blame them, I do the same.

Normally though, they never talk to me.  Not that I try, I’ve watched enough men try to chat up my daughter or other teenage girls on the train to know this is most likely a waste of everyone’s time.  

But back to the train.  As we crossed the Bow River, the cowboy explained (or re-lived) – NOT mansplained, to the girl about working construction during the 80’s in Calgary.  He continued to reminisce and name the high-rise buildings he worked on, and as I listened, I remember those years when the Calgary Tower was still noticeable on the skyline.

 I assumed the teenage girl would ignore him, or give one word answers.  She did not.  She listened and engaged him.  He shared with her what it was like to work on a construction site back then and how if you didn’t like the boss, or the company, you could quit, walk across the street, and get another job instantly.

Intrigued, a young ethnic man/teenager sitting across from them joined in and said, “I wish it was like that now!” to which they all nodded to in agreement.  I nodded too, even though I was trying to impartially eavesdrop the conversation, without interaction.

Prior to the first downtown stop, the cowboy explains to now both the girl and young man that he is looking for work.  He seemed extremely frustrated with how hard it is because you are required to apply online and his computer skills were not great.    His point, which I feel is 100% accurate, should be addressed.  Why should he have to take hours of computing classes to learn how to fill out an online application for a job that doesn’t require computer skills?  Can someone not fill out all the details that they normally ask for and have them saved automatically for anyplace he wants to apply?

There are probably a few solutions that do this (google auto-fill), but clearly no one has shown him well enough.  The girl though, on her way out very kindly explained that if he had a Mac he could go to the Mac store and they would help him. 

I don’t consider this peoplesplaining though as it was heartfelt, she was trying to help someone in need.  When I observe anyone doing this I’m uplifted not annoyed. Plus, it was based on conversation with a stranger, not your friend telling you to brush your back teeth first to save 10 seconds. 

Being skeptical, and more importantly being brainwashed for the last 50 years I figured this was a one-off.  I was wrong.  I had barely left the train when I had a sneezing fit and another teenage girl yells out a big “bless you” as I’m walking by.  After the fit was over, I happily shouted a “thank you” to her which she responded with a big smile.  This has nothing to do with mansplaing of course, just a second example of apparently extremely friendly Calgary teenage girls.

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My point is simple.  She was NOT mansplaining or peoplesplaining.  A man sat down, told a story, which I’m sure he’s told a thousand times before, and two young people engaged him however briefly, and all walked away with a bit of new information historical or otherwise.

Just to be very clear, this is just an observation.

I’m not suggesting older men start purposely engaging teenagers.

I’m not suggesting teenagers purposely engage old men.

I’m not even suggesting that it’s the teenager’s obligation to engage anyone.

I am saying she has the right to engage, it’s her choice.  I’m excited by the fact that she did, it means there is still an opportunity for strangers on a C-Train to communicate about something other than the weather.

One last and important point.  She didn’t offer any advice until the man finished his story. Then, I saw her contemplating her answer before responding.  Very mature I think because if you are so ready with your response that you don’t respectfully let the person finish how can they take you seriously?

 EVERY aspect of my life has been peoplesplained to me, and let me be clear, everyone who does this to me knows the only possessions in my life are what I carry on my back, I have basically NO belongings and no desire to have any! I don’t need anything from anyone. Yet the urge to peoplesplain everything to me is so great they can’t help themselves.  It’s a disease I think, and hopefully the pharmaceutical companies will come up with something to cure it.

In the future, I dream of a world where nothing is peoplesplained to me, especially:

  • A walking shortcut that would save me 1 minute.  The explanation of the shortcut took about 5 minutes. (I walk for my health and enjoyment, not because I can’t afford a car)
     
  • Anything and everything to do with cooking food (I don’t have or want a kitchen)
     
  • Everything to do with cars (I haven’t had one for a year)
     
  • Don’t even get me started on dieting stuff (yes, I’m fat but I know why thank you)
     
  • Everything to do with computers (I work in IT)
     
  • Everything to do with travel (I haven’t had a home for 2 years)

I don’t have a solution for peoplesplaining, but maybe I don’t need one, if it’s only my generation that does it and not the newer generation coming up then it won’t matter as my generation will be dead shortly anyway.

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