Now There’s A Hotline For Women To Report ‘Mansplaining’

Photo: Shirley Yu
Mansplaining has got to be one of the most annoying afflictions of being a woman in the 21st century workplace. If you haven't experienced a man explaining something obvious to you in a patronising tone, you're probably in the minority. Luckily for women in Sweden, there is now a dedicated hotline they can call to report instances of mansplaining. The phone line was set up by Unionen, one of Sweden’s largest trade unions, as part of a wider campaign against the behaviour, which it defines as when “a man explains something to a woman without being asked, particularly something which she might already know more about than the man”, The Independent reported. The hotline, which launched on Monday, is staffed by a gender expert, feminist politicians, comedians and scientists, and will be open from 10am to 4pm every day for a week. Callers will receive advice on the steps they should take to deal with mansplainers and how to move on. Staff have no set guidelines and are free to draw on their own experiences when giving advice. Unionen said the hotline is "about equality" and aims to stamp out mansplaining, which it said demeans women and creates the impression that they're less able than they are. The union said: “It is about putting your finger on the small everyday problems which become large when they stack up,” reported The Independent. It also cited unchecked mansplaining as a potential cause of men earning more and being promoted faster than women. Unionen cited a study by the American Psychological Association which found that men "tend to overestimate their intelligence to a much greater extent than women," reported The Local. "The study also showed that self-assurance in men grows with age," adding that the hotline would help both sexes to "handle this kind of behaviour in your workplace." However, the hotline hasn't gone down well with everyone, with some suggesting it's sexist. Daniel Bergman of Sundsvall wrote on Unionen's Facebook page: "How would women react if you used words like 'old biddy chat' or 'female whining'? Equality can't be won using negative invective, but should be built using mutual respect and partnership. But maybe I'm the only one who thinks so." Jim Brännlund from Stockholm didn't mince his words either: "Just what we need in society, more polarisation. And people wonder why right-wing populism is on the rise." Others took issue with the word "mansplaining", but said they supported tackling sexist behaviour. Meanwhile, others defended the campaign. Linda Landgren said: "Good initiative. Judging by the comments, it seems quite a lot of men feel this is aimed at them, so it shows how much this kind of work is needed." Responding to the criticism, Gabriel Wernstedt, a spokesman for Unionen, told The Local that the aim wasn't to "point fingers or to blame all men". "The campaign is intended to make us all, men and women, aware of this phenomenon and hopefully to start a change together. Everyone wins when we expose suppression techniques and talk about them." He added that while "it's naturally unfortunate" that some people are offended by the hotline, "At the same time these are questions that affect many people and that people want to discuss. "We can also note that many people are positive about us raising the question of mansplaining. The attention has exceeded our expectations and shows that this is an important question."

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