The sun rises to colour pieces of the air.
What do we want to be?
Right and therefore probably terribly wrong and the perpetrator of worse: or humble and humorous?
Leaving the study conference, the presenter came to the door, with packed suitcase, leaving with someone else to catch a plane at the airport an hour away. It had been bitter cold, below -30°C. As we left the temperature was still a stiff -20°C with a windchill of -27°C, which does make a difference for what happened next.
I asked if she had a parka. She said it was packed in the suitcase. I continued with my real concern saying that at these temperatures one ought have it at least right handy in the vehicle so that if something happens one is prepared.
She returned a glazed look and said that she would be in the car and into the airport. She had no plans to be outside.
I shook my head in disbelief and said that was ok, but the concern was if an emergency came up, she would not be ready.
More non-commitment, and I departed.
Later I remembered this conversation and one of her comments in her presentation:
‘Mansplaining’ are those spouting off by men without qualifications or attention to the-woman-they-speak-to’s qualifications, as if all wisdom came only from men. And her learned and practiced response was to ignore the words as much as possible and move on.
Ahh, so that was what she did to my words at the door, as I bundled into my down parka on my 40 feet to the car, travelling that same hour to the airport, also never leaving the car.
Perhaps I was just a dumb Minnesotans (she’s from St. Paul MN) from the sticks (Brainerd), who was male and therefore mansplaining her. Perhaps in a different universe.
I have winter survival training, specifically for the weather we were suffering. As a commercial pilot I flew in northern (so it’s called, though it is really central) Alberta. The training was to help us as pilots know how to prepare and then ensure we and our passengers survived after a crash in the bush at extreme temperatures for at least 72 hours. During the training it went down to below -20°C each night as we made our shelters with only natural materials with the tools we normally flew with (or should have never flown without.) The last night it went well below -40°C.
In addition I have had the misfortune of being in a vehicle accident in the winter, and the difference made by having a parka on was critical for survival. Perhaps everything would have turned out ok had I had the parka near me. But then everything was tossed far and away during the pirouette and flips. So maybe not. But getting it out of a packed suitcase? Not a chance that would have gone well.
So maybe I was just mansplaining and her best response was to ignore my words with judgmental disdain and move on; which is good enough until there is an accident, and the parka could have made the difference between life and death, for her or for others in her car or others vehicles.
Maybe she is fully qualified to make the risk assessment, did so and chose comfort over the small likelihood of being in an accident on the way to the car or to the airport.
Or maybe she was not, and as a professor in St. Paul she may never have to work to survive in the outside below -20°C.
But to dismiss my good words, kind even, wise from training and experience, well that is just proof that mansplaining is hardly the problem. The problem is that she dismisses what men say.
The sun colouring book is actually the smoke of the fire that keeps me warm, or at least alive, when it dips below ‘Youch-It-BITES-to-be-Outside!)
I have no idea if she glazed over about my comment. Or if she actually had a parka to pull out, or was sheepishly covering for the fact she’d travelled, via California, without a parka this time, or she actually made the risk assessment fully informed and the best she wanted to.
Regardless: travelling with no parka at least on the seat beside oneself in the deep freeze of winter is not wise.
Maybe my commenting, with surprise and expecting a humorous exchange, was out of place: why care about how strangers deal with the elements. It’s just the extremes of yesteryear are now the norms, because of climate change. Besides if the stranger is a woman, then it is politically incorrect to try to assist in some normal way.
The best thing to do is let all women suffer, even if there are simple words of hard won wisdom that are worth sharing.
Besides, who cares if I was a stay at home parent, and listened to all the womansplaining that was directed at me at parent-teacher meetings, or other gatherings of parents. Now of course fathers as at home dads is more common. Back then I was singular in most every woman’s experience, and obviously I was stupid at it … because helping raise 7 younger siblings does not really give any man real child rearing experience. You have to be a girl to learn to raise children, practising on your younger siblings, right?!
And all of that is utter nonesense. How do I even know the speaker responded to me as if I were mansplaining her?
I do not.
And why does she ignore men who she thinks are mansplaining her? Because she needs to survive.
But ignoring men, is exactly what women are complaining about: they are ignored.
So the real fix is to blame men and ignore them, to shut them down and silence them, right?!
That kind of working hard to turn the tables on people who treat me/us as if I/we do not count is much more of the same injustice and it breeds injustice, until it has built enough to cause a war, or a personal fight … and then the number of people who are silenced grows out of hand.
Empathy, kindness, reaching into the unfamiliar to understand; These are a good start toward a real solution.
Blaming, dismissing others because they are xsplaining you is not an answer, it is a dodge that perpetuates and makes worse the situation. One could have solved it, but one chose instead to become like one’s enemies and wreak havoc on them as they have you.
No solution comes from diminishing the other, nor from making them one’s enemies.
Only grace truly works.
It’s cold outside. That does not mean one’s heart needs be ice hard.
Be safe, outside, travelling, and with the hearts given into one’s care.
Sometimes the treat is to see something up close, real, beautiful … and forget the rest.