Mansplaining and manspreading – what do the phrases mean? | The Sun

MANSPLAINING is a portmanteau of the "man" and "explaining", as is used to refer to men who explaining things to a woman in a patronising way.

Manspreading, which is often seen on crowded public transport, refers to an unfortunate way some men sit in public, which can make other people feel uncomfortable.

What is mansplaining?

Mansplaining is the term given for when a man automatically assumes he knows more on a subject than a woman.

It's thought to display sexism, and includes when men speak over women.

It's especially egregious when it's about a woman’s experiences, their bodies, their lives, and areas that men aren't qualified to explain.

Men who have no qualifications in a given subject have been known to explain them to female experts in that field, without considering that their understanding is likely vastly inferior to the woman they're addressing.

In February 2019, a man was mocked on Twitter after he tried to correct a female gynaecologist on the difference between vaginas and a vulvas.

Where did mansplaining come from?

The word is used to describe the way in which some men patronisingly spell things out for women.

The word is described in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as: “what occurs when a man talks condescendingly to someone (especially a woman) about something he has incomplete knowledge of, with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he's talking to does".


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The suffix "splain" began to take off on its own around 30 years ago, but was attached to "man" around 2009, following a book by Rebecca Solnit, Men Explain Things To Me, released in 2008.

Solnit described the practice as a combination of "overconfidence and cluelessness".

In 2010, it was named in the New York Times as one of its words of the year, and is commonly used in popular culture and everyday life.

Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak was accused by backers of his leadership rival Liz Truss of mansplaining during a 2022 Tory leadership debate on July 25, 2022.

Allies of the former Cabinet minister called the criticism "bizarre".

What is manspreading?

Manspreading, sometimes referred to ballrooming or mansitting, is a term that describes how some men sit on public transport with their legs spread wide apart.

Both the position and the term have sparked criticism and debate online, and it has been compared with examples of women taking up space on public transport with their handbags. added the word "manspreading" in August 2015, describing it as: "The practice whereby a man, especially one travelling on public transport, adopts a sitting position with his legs wide apart, in such a way as to encroach on an adjacent seat or seats."

A university student who was fed up with men "infringing on her public space" won a national award in July 2019 for designing a chair that stops them from manspreading.

Laila Laurel created the piece of furniture which she said stops men from spreading their legs and encroaching on other people's personal space.



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While Laila's design a lot of praise, some were left less than impressed with the chair, claiming that manspreading isn't a choice.

One man explained on Twitter: "I don't sit with my legs apart to annoy women, I do it because I have stuff hanging between my legs that gets crushed if I close them. It's biology."

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