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Let me splain for you - Tactical Ninja

Oct. 19th, 2010

10:20 am - Let me splain for you

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I've discovered a paradox. I should probably go down in history now, or at least get a certificate or something.

Actually I'm probably not the first person to discover this paradox, but fuckit, I'm gonna talk about it anyway.


First, it's not as fun as 'sploring.

Having said that, here goes.

It's probably in the last year or so that the use of the word *splaining has become really popular. First it was mansplaining - the word used for when a man jumps into a discussion about women's issues and tells everyone there how it is from the point of view of the man. People jumped on this, icons abounded and suddenly it was being used everywhere. Then it started to get morphed to fit whatever discussion was going on. So now we have cissplaining, whitesplaining and heterosplaining. Chances are there will be thinsplaining in use out there somewhere too.

It's come to mean "You are privileged and therefore don't deserve the privilege of speaking in this discussion." And it's everywhere. A bit like the tone argument, it's something that people are accused of almost willy-nilly, and (for example) whitesplaining no longer means abusing your privilege to tell non-white people what they should think, it actually now means "commenting while white". Or thin, or cis, or whatever. And IMO, since people started overusing the term, it's lost a lot of its clout.

So what's the paradox? Well, it's fairly commonly accepted that people shouldn't usurp the experience of others and apply it to themselves. One should only speak from one's own experience, because how could I possibly really understand what it's like to be anything other than what I am? So any time I open my mouth or hit my keyboard, I'm talking about my own experience - it's the only one I can speak on with any authority. I'm telling it like I see it, or speaking from my own perspective. Which means that everything I say is some kind of *splaining. Which is, apparently, a bad thing. Even when I'm womansplaining, kiwisplaining, expatsplaining, or sheepshearersplaining. And given that accusing someone of *splaining is another way of saying "STFU", it seems that I'm not allowed to speak from my own perspective but I'm only allowed to speak from my own perspective.

I find this confusing.

And no, it seems that speaking in the abstract is not permissible either.

I find this all a bit strange, especially in open discussion. It essentially amounts to only people of a certain 'type' (used for want of a better word) are allowed to speak, everyone else being excluded - and I can't see how this would lead to a realistic sharing of ideas or to learning - in fact, I can see such discussions fast turning into an insular circle-jerk in which one viewpoint dominates and the perspective gets narrower, not wider. I'm not convinced this is a productive way of conducting discussions.


But then, I would say that, wouldn't I? I AM TATSPLAINING!

In a completely different arena - Paleo diet? Realistic approach to health or trendy hipster fad?

Comments:

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From:weeweekittie
Date:October 18th, 2010 09:31 pm (UTC)
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Paleo -- old fad, new name, questionable benefits. It looks ridiculously hard to stick to, and impossible to get all your required nutrition. Seriously, no dairy? No, thank you. And I'm going to keep my butt nicely padded with lentils and edamame and be happy about it.

I think it's one of those things best filed under "Meatless Mondays".

You could have "Stone age Saturday". There we go. Win.
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From:rivet
Date:October 18th, 2010 09:32 pm (UTC)
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That's about the point where poststructuralism disappeared up its own arse as well. When you've developed a theory that *stops* all useful explaination and furthering understanding, you've reached a dead end.
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From:morbid_curious
Date:October 18th, 2010 09:47 pm (UTC)
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Some people hate it when I rightsplain things to them. But then, I don't like it when they wrongsplain to others, either.
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From:tyellas
Date:October 18th, 2010 09:44 pm (UTC)
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I don't know anyone who is actually doing the paleo diet. I see the blogs and the snarky articles about paleo-dieting hipsters. I've been curious. At the same time, I've also found that the American bagel bakery in Auckland is now distributing its bagels down here, and if those bagels are wrong, I don't want to be right.

Other food fads at the moment: intuitive eating and intermittent fasting (which dovetails with the paleo thing, see the comments thread on that link.)
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From:vernacularity
Date:October 18th, 2010 09:52 pm (UTC)
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I reckon that they got it 100% wrong. Since "human genetics have scarcely changed since the dawn of agriculture" it implies that once agriculture was started our genetics finally realised we was onto A Good Thing and quit squirming around trying to become something else.
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From:anna_en_route
Date:October 18th, 2010 09:50 pm (UTC)
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Paleo=hipster fad.

Splaining, I can see the use for a term to point out where someone has just completely ignored everything you have just said and begins explaining very basic concepts from scratch, and that was pretty much where I thought mansplaining started and ended.

I suppose we could just change it to rude and obnoxious behaviour and keep everyone happy?
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From:thatgirljj
Date:October 18th, 2010 09:52 pm (UTC)
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Paleo = hipster fad and realistic approach to eating. Taking it to extremes is just silly and lord knows the NY Times and the like seem to love "extreme Paleo in the city" stories.

That being said, I've been cutting way back on a lot of grains in my diet and trying to go super heavy on the veggies and fruits, and it's certainly a reasonable way to eat. You have to tweak your thinking towards meals, but it automatically cuts out a lot of junky carbs and leaves you with healthier ones.

Realistic may depend in part on the stance you take towards beans and/or dairy though.
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From:anna_en_route
Date:October 18th, 2010 10:18 pm (UTC)
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I think Karen Healy (who I think is absolutely awesome and happens to be a kiwi) came up with the term mansplaining.

Further discussion of it here:

http://karenhealey.livejournal.com/781391.html
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:October 18th, 2010 11:43 pm (UTC)
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Would it cause all sorts of drama if you rebuke people with "you're minority-splaining!"?
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From:lifeofreilly
Date:October 19th, 2010 12:01 am (UTC)

What's the name for when

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What' the name for when people go around talking pseudo science, astrology, Mercury in retrograde and Chakras and a sceintist comes along and asks for their data? Or points out flaws in their theories or lack of any kind of control in their experiments?

When people are talking about science and a scientist (or someone with some kind of training in science) comes along and explains that they are doing it wrong?

Is that Sciensplaining? Or is it just taking an idiot to school?

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From:anna_en_route
Date:October 19th, 2010 12:11 am (UTC)

Re: What's the name for when

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Only if it's a physicist trying to claim that say... biology(or sociology or anthrpology) is all very simple and they don't see what the fuss is about

A la this http://xkcd.com/793/
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From:richdrich
Date:October 19th, 2010 01:49 am (UTC)
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I feel that the "paleo" diet concept is usurping the experience of Americans Dwelling In Subterranean Geological Voids. As a non ADSGV, you have no standing to appropriate such experiences and are buildingdwellersplaining. Or something.
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From:cicipsychobunny
Date:October 19th, 2010 07:48 am (UTC)
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For me an important element of the -splaining thing is that the whole basis of the 'splainer's argument is that they are a member of a privileged group. And privileged people are really, really used to having their opinions taken as gospel. So a mansplainer isn't just a guy who comments - it's a guy who comments, in a condescending manner, whose condescension is derived from Being A Man who is Talking To Silly Girls. It's the use of the privilege itself as a symbol of Being An Authority on all things, and the fact that the 'splainer can rely on the fact that others will take their word over that of oppressed groups because a huge part of privilege is just being accepted as an intelligent/worthy/valuable participant.
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From:tatjna
Date:October 19th, 2010 08:00 am (UTC)
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Yeah, and if that definition was the way it had stayed, that would be awesome. But nowadays I'm seeing *splaining accusations used more and more to simply silence people based on what other people know of their privilege intersections.

An example I saw yesterday was someone making a comment regarding bigotry, which basically said that one might have to drill down into the specifics of bigotry as expressed in a particular area in order to make accurate statements about that area as a place to live, and that person got accused of whitesplaining. Even though the discussion was about homophobia, and nobody in the thread had identified themselves in terms of race.

It's frustrating to see a useful piece of terminology lose its value through indiscriminate use.
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