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12 July, 2015

Kensplaining

"Women's faults are many,
Men have only two:
Everything they say...
and everything they do."
--Anonymous, that most prolific and profound of poets

There are a bevy of columnists at The Globe and Mail whose work I make a point of reading every week. The best of them, interestingly, are women: Tabatha Southey, Elizabeth Renzetti...and Margaret Wente.

Wente is a polarizing figure. She went (ha-ha) through a little plagiarism scandal three years ago, when she stole a sentence from an Ottawa Citizen column; her employer disciplined her, but kept her on staff. I for one am grateful. Her politics are miles and miles away from mine and many of her columns leave me slack-jawed with blood boiling, But I'm not one to live in an echo chamber and how else can I buttress my own beliefs without exposing them to opposition?

I was going to do a blog on "mansplaining"--wow, Chrome's spell-check doesn't even flag that word anymore--and was trying to find a hook to hang its hat on when I opened up the paper to find this column. VoilĂ . Hat hook located.

I got accused of 'mansplaining' last night when I offered my perspective on something, and it rankled me: the term seems to have so much hatred imbued in it Welp, my knee jerked. Best never to answer a woman's question ever again. I didn't write that, though. Instead I apologized for any offense I may have caused. What can I say, I might be a man, but I'm Canadian.

It seems to me that accusing someone of 'mansplaining' is the quickest way to shut a conversation down. Testosterone not allowed here. It reminds me of the feminization that ran rampant both on and off campus when I was in university. One feminist group wanted to rename the History Department ("Herstory")...this was the same group that said 'chairperson' wasn't gender-neutral because a 'son' is male. Shortly after I ran screaming from that fiasco, I found the 'Womyn's Music" section of an HMV in Toronto: what? are men not supposed to listen to this stuff?

Maybe I internalized too much of that kind of twaddle and that's why my penis eventually retracted. Because Wente's column proves I'm actually Kendra.

MEN GET TO THE POINT, she says, and usually I don't. Eva has a little wheels-are-spinning-on-black-ice gesture to let me know to quit my babbling and actually say something meaningful. (Of course, if she flat-out asks me to start a conversation, my mind goes instantly blank. Random conversation-starters bubble up: no, we just talked about that last week...nope, she doesn't give two shits about that...nope, even I'm bored by this topic and I haven't even brought it up...) But if by some miracle my tongue does start flapping, it flaps at both ends.
And asking people out for lunch or what have you? I'm even more terrified of looking pushy than Wente claims woman are.

MEN DON'T HOLD GRUDGES

Uh, yeah we do. Or at least I do. I try not to, but they're like acid sometimes. I'm better than I was, mind you. I used to assume that anyone who hurt me meant to do it. Eventually I realized it was maybe more productive to view myself as overly sensitive, and work on that. Now I can usually tell when the slight isn't intentional. The ones that are, though...they burn for a year or longer.

MEN EXTERNALIZE THEIR FAILURES

Nope. I tend to externalize my successes. My failures are mine alone.

But seriously. If I succeed at something, I had help and support to do it. Nobody's out there sabotaging my failures. This is one of many so-called "manly" traits that disgust me.

MEN ARE FOCUSED AND PERSISTENT

...which is why I'm a published writer who has accomplished every life's goal he's set for himself.

That's sarcasm, by the way.

It's true that I am not a multi-tasker. But I'm also neither focused nor persistent. My focus drifts all over the place, and especially with mechanical tasks, I will throw in the towel before it's even been handed to me.

MEN HAVE NO PROBLEM BEING ASSERTIVE

I've met one person -- a woman -- who is undeniably less assertive than I am. Everybody else, of either gender, I'l fall right in behind. It's not that I'm weak, I don't think. It's a byproduct of a lack of focus and discipline. I just...don't...care overmuch. I'm easily pleased, and not much for confrontation. Assertive? Not me.

MEN ARE LESS COMPLICATED THAN WOMEN

Whew. Maybe I am a man, after all.

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