Dudes in Ladyspaces: A Field Guide to Mansplainers

Ah, the not-so-elusive male commenter in an online space for women, otherwise known as the common Dick-Spotted Titchaser. We’ve all seen him; we encounter at least one or more in every space we try to claim as our own. The guy who makes it his mission to set down roots in what is meant to be a space for women. The guy who won’t take the hint. The guy who feels entirely entitled to be here. Well, here’s the secret, guy: we’re on to you. Because you are so utterly predictable that we can actually assign a pattern to your comments and behaviors. And frankly, it’s getting tiresome.

I’m not like other guys.

“Men [who are not me] are so disgusting. They have no respect for women, and don’t understand women’s issues. Fortunately, I am unlike other men, and know all about these things. That’s why I’m here.”

Oh, yes. Because you assume that an online space for women is going to be automatically hostile to men. Good call, dude. So you make sure to slip in, as often as possible, how you’re different from all those other men who barge into women’s spaces and try to take over the conversation. It always happens. Watch. It may even happen in the comments on this very article!

Here’s how I’m a feminist.

“I took a women’s studies course in college. I’m friendly with my ex-girlfriends. I heard the word ‘intersectionality’ once. These are my credentials to be here. In a space for women. Even though I’m a man.”

Oh, so you’ve figured out that we experience life from a woman’s point of view. Because we’re women. High five. So now it’s time for you to prove that you know all about feminism and what it’s like to be a woman in society today, because you’re totally qualified to walk in here and interrupt our conversation. According to you, it’s fine because you self-identify as a feminist. Here’s a fucking merit badge. Go away. If you want to be a good feminist ally, go comment in places where only men are taken seriously, and talk to them about feminism. But you won’t, because while you’re more than willing to wear your “feminist” name tag, you won’t go so far as to go to places that are traditionally lacking in exposure to feminist thought and actually talk about it. You just want to hang out in places where other people have already done the work for you.

I’m self-deprecating and so much like you, ladies!

“Oh, I’m so nerdy and socially awkward! I can’t find a date. I’d much rather talk about sci-fi and bell hooks and interact with smart, nerdy women. Like you all.”

Yeah, man, we talk about awesome stuff here. We do that because we’re awesome and smart, and because we can’t talk about it other places. You have EVERY OTHER PLACE ON THE INTERNET to talk about whatever you want. We’ve made this space hospitable to women who want to have these conversations because no one else was creating them for us. So pardon me for being a little offended if we built our treehouse from the ground up, swept out the dust, offered up a round of drinks, and then you showed up, knocked the door off its hinges, and politely sipped one of our beers before demanding a Cosmo be specially made for you.

This place is so much more comfortable for me.

“I feel so unwelcome in traditional online spaces. Everyone there is so hostile, and I don’t feel free to express how I really feel.”

Oh, you don’t say? You feel out of place and alienated in most online spaces, and are seeking a refuge from the harsh treatment you get everywhere else? You’re tired of people ganging up on you because your thoughts and comments are often met with hostility and insults? WHY THE FUCK DO YOU THINK WE CREATED WOMEN-FRIENDLY ONLINE SPACES? You have everywhere else. Everywhere. We’ve carved out a few places where we get to set and enforce the rules, we get to feel comfortable, and our voices aren’t the minority, but instead set the tone for the whole place. Why is it that you think you’re the special snowflake who gets to infiltrate that?

Look, I’m gaining your trust! I have groupies friends here.

Once you’ve settled in and gotten comfy, ignoring the dirty looks and pointed barbs being lobbed your way, you may find that you’ve picked yourself up a following. It happens. Oftentimes, it’s because women who are new to women’s online spaces haven’t already been through this cycle a thousand times already, and don’t realize that you’re using them as a pawn in your gross little game. “Don’t listen to the haters! You’re one of the good ones!” “Oh, if only you didn’t live so far away, there are plenty of awesome women here who’d want to bang you!” “I, for one, find it refreshing to hear a male perspective, especially one who’s always telling us that he finds all women hot and sexy, even those of us who aren’t ‘traditionally beautiful.'” Way to go, dude! You’ve built yourself a nice little line of defense as well as a way for you to consistently feed your ego.

Now show me your boobs.

“I’m pretty much just one of the girls. You should all just feel totally comfortable to behave exactly as you would if there were no men here; up to and including posting naked pictures of yourself. It’s fine! One of the girls, remember!”

This always happens. Don’t fool yourself. It may take a while, but things will always take a turn for the creepy. I know, man, you just can’t help yourself. There are so many breasts here, and you really think you’re entitled to see them all. You’ll try to hide the creep factor as long as you can, but you’ll have a breaking point. I guarantee it.

I’m going to talk about my penis, but it’s OK, because I’m a feminist!

“Ugh. You think it’s tough not being able to find a bra that fits right? Try being a dude with a huge penis! I can’t find condoms that fit! All my girlfriends say I’m too big! It’s so difficult.”

And, here we go. You always find a reason to talk about your dick. Dude, we don’t want to hear about your pants problems. We want you and your only-in-your-head big penis to GTFO. Don’t care, you’re gross, go away.

No really, show me your boobs and/or date me.

“I really wish more women around me were more like you guys here. My social life wouldn’t be such a disaster if I had got, smart, funny girls like you guys to date.”

Now you’re just trolling for dates. You’re hoping one of the community members who’s roughly in your time zone will decide she just can’t resist a pony ride at the old Fake Feminist Dude Ranch.

I’m going to tell you how to feel. I know because I’m a man.

“I think that this post misrepresents men and their intentions. As a man, you should interpret this how I tell you to. Because I am a man. And I know. And it’s my responsibility to tell you how and why you’re wrong, and how you should feel instead.”

Here’s the flip side of setting up camp in women’s spaces: we don’t give half a shit about how you think we should approach any given subject just because you’re a man. That is the primary reason we created and hang out in spaces for women. Because men tell us how we should think and feel and act all the time. So if you think for one second that your condescending, often gaslighting, bullshit is going to be welcome, you’re in for a rude awakening.

I deserve a voice, too! I have every right to be here! You’re misandrists!

“I don’t like how I was attacked for my comments. You’re trying to silence everyone who doesn’t agree with you! No, wait, you’re just trying to silence men! Well, I’m allowed to post here and say what I want, especially since it’s the truth, and you’re all just so wrapped up in man-hating that you refuse to see the truth! Well, you can’t get rid of me that easily! I’m sticking around to show you how wrong you are, and how easy everything would be if you would just think the way I tell you to!”

Hey, guess what? Our playground, our rules. Doesn’t feel so great when it’s directed at you, does it? Now, I’ll admit to feeling a certain smugness when the conversation eventually degrades to this point, because, having been around this particular block enough times, I saw it coming a mile away. But to all the women who may not have experienced this before, it’s a particularly harsh illustration of what always happens in these situations. You seemed pretty cool in the beginning, and so people trusted you, and got comfortable with you, and in the end, you ended up as a cautionary tale about why online women’s spaces were created to begin with.

I’m so misunderstood/just trying to be an ally!

Here’s your cookie. Go fuck yourself.





15 replies on “Dudes in Ladyspaces: A Field Guide to Mansplainers”

Not every man is an asshole by default, but there is a very specific type of man who makes a habit of hanging out in spaces designed to be for women, and then dominating the conversation in extremely predictable ways. The guys who aren’t dicks don’t engage in these behaviors, and so this article doesn’t apply to them, and I think it would be insulting to our readership to address the, “Don’t you mean SOME men?” thing.

Also, sparing men’s feelings was not my primary objective with this piece.

There ARE good, pro-feminist men out there. They treat everyone like an equal without the “where’s my gold star” face. They don’t typically show up in ladyspaces demanding to be treated as equals or expect credit for not being assholes.

And, very frequently, the dudes who play this game are Nice Guys who’ve just learned not to talk shit about girls who had the audacity not to date or have sex with them.

Whether it’s luck or blog marketing or the gods of commenting, I feel fortunate we haven’t had to deal with too much of that here. The few regular male (as far as they’ve told us) commenters here may be few but have been good human beings so far.

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