Once upon a time, I accidentally told a guy that I was a huge metalhead. If I’d had a few less beers coursing through my system, I might not have done it, but alas — what was I supposed to say to a cute, enthusiastic guy who’d just asked me what my interests were? When I told him, his eyes got really wide and he asked me what bands I enjoyed. As is usually the case, I mentioned the most popular bands first — “Megadeth, ’80s Metallica, you know, the stuff that Dave wrote” — and didn’t even get to utter a third before this man interrupted to drop a bunch of wisdom on me.
“Oh, you know, I like Metallica too! Did you know Dave Mustaine was in Metallica originally?” he interjected.
Confused, because I had just mentioned him, I said, “Um, yes.”
“Yeah, he got kicked out because of his drinking, but he was their original guitarist,” he added, sipping his can of Miller Lite with a sagely look in his eye.
I was stunned silent, but managed a chipper “Yeah, I knew that!” before I excused myself to go to the bathroom.
When I came back to the bar area, the man found me again. “My friend is in this band that I know you’ll like, I just requested them on the jukebox.”
As much as I love hearing new music, his friend’s band sounded like some unholy combination of late ’90s Marilyn Manson and Sum 41. I wish I were exaggerating. I thought to myself, is that what people think metal is? Good lord.
Anyway, this was the very first time I was ever aware of that ubiquitous phenomenon known as mansplaining. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the term, mansplaining occurs when a man assumes you don’t know what you’re talking about despite the fact that you have shown expertise in or more-than-basic knowledge of the subject you’re discussing with him. Since metal has traditionally been dominated by men, guys have a tendency not to believe women when we say that we’re metalheads. Guys have a tendency not to believe women when we say anything at all about ourselves, but I digress. As you can see, even though I clearly knew that Dave Mustaine had been in Metallica at some point (you know, because I said it and all), this barfly either didn’t bother listening to me when I was talking to him or felt the need to educate me about something I already knew. Mansplaining in a nutshell.
Mansplaining has another, even more insidious form that doesn’t quite have a snazzy name yet. I’ll describe it to you in an example.
I moderate a metal-themed room on Turntable.fm that gets a decent amount of traffic from newbies and regulars alike. For the record, my display name is Victoria Rattlehead, an obviously effeminate name, so I have to endure the occasional “ironic” come-on. One day, a newbie came in as I was spinning “Hammar Haus” by Einherjer, one of my favorite songs on the Blot album. The newbie complimented me on my song, and I told him thanks and said that the Blot album was one of my favorites. He followed with “Cool, do you know ‘Venom Tongue’?”
There are a few things wrong with this newbie’s stupid ass question:
1) It’s spelled “Venomtongue.”
2) He asked me if I knew “Venomtongue,” not if I liked it.
3) “Venomtongue” is a song on the Blot album, which I had JUST FUCKING SAID was one of my favorites.
So while this jackass didn’t necessarily try to explain anything to me, he immediately assumed that I didn’t know anything about an album that he knew was one of my favorites. I’m not sure what to call that because I’m not in the business of coining terms, but I’m sure you gals can come up with something, right?