The Language of the Left – and how it alienates progressives from their own causes


“Privilege”, “trigger warnings”, “safe spaces”, “mansplaining”, “tone policing” and “cultural appropriation”. These terms are the Language of the Left. Anyone who has talked politics with lefties will be familiar with the way that they are thrown around in discussions willy-nilly. And each of them describes a problem which should be taken seriously.

Take “mansplaining” for example: when men explain things in a patronizing way to women, because of an imagined authority on a certain subject. This happens all the time. It happens in offices; at dinner tables; on television; in politics. If you haven’t seen this in action you’re just not looking hard enough. And “trigger warnings” serve an important purpose as well. People who suffer from PTSD after sexual assault can be severely distressed when reading descriptions of rape, for example. Flagging this up to avoid aggravating their condition is no different from warning epileptics when there will be flashing images on TV. It’s completely sensible.

But once these terms become trump cards which can automatically win arguments and shut down discussions, then mission creep seeps in, as people use them more and more lazily. People don’t just use trigger warnings to flag up distressing content any more. They splash them in front of any Daily Mail article which they disagree with, and claim they are triggered every time they hear an opinion which they don’t like.

“Safe spaces” doesn’t refer to specifically defined groups anymore, but sprawls across entire university campuses, with UKIP societies getting banned to make students ‘feel safe’. And “mansplaining” no longer describes a specific type of patronizing man-speak, but can be used every time a man disagrees with a woman on anything. The punishment for committing one of these offences can be severe. Like minded people swarm to condemn those who are accused of mansplaining, or cultural appropriation, or tone policing, and unthinkingly support the accuser in almost any circumstances.

This behaviour is at best irritating and at worst dangerous. The rules of what is and isn’t okay to say are so complicated and inconsistent that even a left wing political geek like me finds it hard to judge where the line is. For many people, it’s just not worth the aggro. People who might otherwise have been allies steer well clear of getting involved in sensitive lefty causes – such as feminism and anti-racism movements – because of the culture of excessive condemnation which thrives around such issues.

But this just isn’t okay. Issues like sexism and racism are extremely important, and we should encourage people to get involved in fighting against them. Progressive politics shouldn’t be about point scoring or competitive offence-taking, it should be about tackling the problems which affect the most vulnerable people in society. And that fight can’t be won by the Tumblr-left alone. They need people outside of their echo chamber to actively get involved in these issues – whether they fully understand the new lefty vocabulary or not.

It is critically important that the Lib Dems never fall into this trap. Progressive politics is on its knees. We aren’t going to pull it up again by casually condemning people every time we want to win a Facebook argument.

* Ben is a Councillor in Sutton, and the Vice Chair of the Environment & Transport Committee at Sutton Council. He has been a member of the party since the 2015 election, and used to work for the Sutton Liberal Democrats as a volunteer organiser. Ben now works for a charity promoting the greater use of Restorative Justice in the criminal justice system.

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  • Peter Martin 14th Nov '16 - 12:40pm

    I’d argue that these terms are language of what might be termed “progressive liberalism” than the real political left.

    This is symptomatic of a developing split between the traditional left and what is now often thought of as the modern left. It is quite possible and straightforward to be anti EU and on the left. It is much harder, if it is possible at all, to be anti EU and a progressive liberal.

    Of course as socialists we don’t condone racism and sexism, but on the other hand we don’t talk about it such odd ways. We find that Guardian much harder to like than we used to. I’ve stopped buying it! The split is becoming wider.

  • An actual fascist is about to assume the presidency of the USA and LDV is printing articles about how the left are too sensitive?


  • Floating voter 14th Nov '16 - 12:45pm

    The word “mansplain” is unacceptable in public discourse. Full stop

  • Perhaps the author should read some past LDV comments….I have seen far more usage of the term “mansplaining” on LDV than anywhere else…

  • Andrew Melmoth 14th Nov '16 - 12:55pm

    Don’t know what the problem is with ‘mansplaining’. Very useful word.

  • Every single time I have seen someone saying “you’re shutting down debate” what they actually mean is “I’M shutting down this debat, because I would rather tell you off for using a word which makes me feel uncomfortable about my own inconsiderate behaviour than continue having an actual debate.”

    Every single time.

  • Eddie Sammon 14th Nov '16 - 1:02pm

    The author is right. The left and some centrist liberals need to change their language, but there is a faction that wants to double-down on the status-quo. Shouting at people is not going to win elections, so I can only imagine that either they don’t care much about winning elections or they are about to embark on a right-wing style campaign of voter suppression and intimidation against people they don’t like.

  • I don’t think that the word Mansplain is unacceptable, if it’s used appropriately. Men do sometimes patronize women just because they’re women. It’s just that the term is so often used unfairly, that it has become kind of a poisoned term for a lot of people.

    And Jennie – I’ve seen that happen for sure, but it’s definitely not every time in my. I’ve lost count of the number of times these sorts of buzzwords have been used to shame someone or put them down when they’ve clearly done nothing but present a differing opinion respectfully.

  • The desperate to be offended brigade will always find something to become enraged about ,however, trivial. Best to ignore .

  • The author is right and certain individuals on this site are among the guilty persons.

  • I dunno, I think the Left and liberals are mostly Okay. I just think they’re occasionally wrong about some things. If I have a bugbear it’s actually that a lot of people in Britain frame debates as if it was America. So we have British Conservatives now using liberal as an insult as if they were Glen Beck and elements of the left who seems to think we had Jim Crow laws etc. We don’t really have a religious right, we don’t have death row, we didn’t have slavery and most of our tensions are really centred around class rather than race. Safe spaces, trigger warnings and so fourth are basically US imports being dumped willy nilly onto British Campus and political life because they ironically confer a bit of Hollywood razzmatazz through “cultural appropriation”.

  • Well well a lib dem with an argument i completely agree with!

    Come join the tories mate ( can I say ‘mate’ these hours or is that pre-emptive assumptive? ) you’d be more than welcome.

  • Mick Taylor 14th Nov '16 - 2:16pm

    I always shy away from taking part in debates on LDV or other sites when the participants descend into arguing about the way people say things rather than what they actually say. I long ago gave up treating women differently to men in terms of discussion and debate, because in my experience gender makes no difference to debate.
    The tendency to nitpick and argue over minute details of policy or political issues has historically been the preserve of Leninists and Trots, who will always choose to argue about the dialectic rather than take real political action. Liberals should stop acting like them and get on with promulgating our ideas and fighting to gain power.

  • “we didn’t have slavery ”

    We kind of did. For a long long time. The building I did most of my degree in was named after a guy who campaigned against it (William Wilberforce).

  • Martin Clarke 14th Nov '16 - 2:26pm

    Agree with this article 100%. Calling people racist, sexist, homophobic etc just because they disagree with you or these use language which you consider to be unacceptable will never cause people to vote for you. It just pushes them further away. Even worse it silences them so you feel that you are winning the argument when you are in fact losing. Maybe thats why the left generally does worse in the elections than the opinion polls suggest. You can only silence people as far as the ballot box.

  • paul barker 14th Nov '16 - 2:33pm

    This is mostly a problem with The Authoritarian Left & Academia but I have seen people from Liberal Youth using the idea of Privelege, for example.
    Some of these terms, as Ben Andrew points out, are useful in the right context & some are inherently Illiberal, I would nominate Cultural Appropiation & Privelege for the latter category.
    The idea of Privelege in the new sense is a perfect tool for Bullies.

  • David Evershed 14th Nov '16 - 2:37pm

    The word I have trouble with is ‘progressive’.

    It seems to be advocating parties in favour of change or reform. But when we have liberal political parties in power, change or reform would presumably mean changing to illiberal policies.

  • Jennie,
    We did not have slavery in England as such. We did have corn laws. poor laws, work houses, girls going into service and that kind of thing.
    Something else British commentators fail to spot is that Donald Trump is as American as Huey Long, to the point I’m only surprised he hasn’t adopted “Every Man a King” as his theme tune.

  • On the subject of winning elections and language, I am getting increasingly concerned about the number of times I am hearing the phrase ‘Liberal Elite’ bandied around the media. I feel we really need to challenge this term whenever possible lest the two words of the phrase become synonymous with each other. Either that or explain to me just who this liberal elite is. I know it’s not me.

  • Tony Greaves 14th Nov '16 - 2:45pm

    I have never heard of most of these phrases, I am glad to say. Anyway they are nothing to do with the left as I understand it. If indeed people who think they are on the progressive wing of politics (the left broadly speaking) are nowadays going around talking like this, it’s no wonder that rightwingers win elections.

  • Simon McGrath 14th Nov '16 - 2:50pm

    Very good article – and spot on how many of these phrases are used to shut down discussion.

  • “Mansplaining” isn’t just a sexist term used in ignorance; it is a word that is only ever used to deliberately goad men. That such sexist language can be used freely on the liberal-left without awareness really does betray a deep-seated hatred towards the mainstream among certain sections of the liberal-left. Standing up for minorities ceases to be about equality and then becomes an attempt to deliberately marginalise anyone that has the misfortune to be male, white, a football supporter, or whatever.

    We’re hearing much about the hatred of the right with Brexit and Trump and the world has never seemed more terrifying, but these charlatans wouldn’t stand a chance of being elected if the liberal-left hadn’t descended into the world of identity politics and hatred of the mainstream.

    Just to give but one small example: Ched Evans. Overwhelming evidence from several strands proved his innocence, but (a) he was bizarrely convicted, presumably for being a footballer, by a prosecution led by the CPS and not the claimant, (b) even when he had served his original sentence, the mob forced him out of any chance of the rehabilitation back to football that a proper liberal society would demand, (c) even after his re-trial and the innocent verdict, large swathes of the media attacked him as if he was the one that got away, writing front-page articles about how his behaviour was despicable (eh? – it would seem that personal morals of the accused are free game despite the fact that it has nothing to do with consent, but, hey, it’s a man, so let’s attack him with impunity), then (d) 40 Labour MPs write a letter demanding that evidence can’t be used in future that might prove a man’s innocence – they’d rather see an innocent man’s life ruined than have fair trial by the rule of law. Unbelievable. There is so much hatred within the liberal-left that ordinary people just look and rebel against it by voting for the likes of Farage and Trump.

    As a great big liberal-leftie I detest what the liberal-left has become. Isn’t it about time, instead, that we started addressing the big issues on jobs/housing/health/education?

  • Mick Taylor 14th Nov '16 - 2:54pm

    In theory you couldn’t be a slave in Britain, but British ships were at the centre of the slave trade and it was indeed William Wilberforce who successfully persuaded Parliament to abolish slavery throughout the British Empire and to stop British ships from being slavers. Sadly, there is still slavery, indenture and other forms of loss of liberty in the world today. We should be worrying about that, not about what was scrapped in the UK and colonies in the early 19th century.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 14th Nov '16 - 2:54pm

    Ben is correct. A pathetic attempt today to rewrite language based on new prejudices which emerged as supposed antidotes to old ones , only continuing the vicious , and it is a vicious , cycle ! And , in addition, a trendy adding to our colloquialisms , to make us all keep up with the power of the right on brigade !

    What was wrong with ” it doesn’t have to be either or ” , now the phrase is no more , but we get ,the one word ” binary “!

    I discuss issues “relating to ” or promote policies , “on ” , both now replaced by “issues around ” “policies around “!

    For me ” it’s a big question ” or “a lot to ask ” not ” a big ask !”

  • James Brough 14th Nov '16 - 2:54pm


    Parliament passed the Slave Trade Act in 1807 banning slavery – hardly something they’d be likely to do were it not to exist.

    On a personal note, I lived for 15 years in Liverpool. The site of the Anglican Cathedral is where slaves used to be kept before being taken to St George’s Hall on Lime St for auction.

  • Mick Taylor 14th Nov '16 - 2:57pm

    David Evershead. You wrongly assume that when Liberals come to power that reform has already taken place! It needs Liberals in power to make the necessary reforms! And of course, as Liberals, we must recognise when reform hasn’t worked and seek to rectify that too. Hardly illiberal!

  • Now now Jennie, you may well be dissapointed and angry about Trump, but I can assure you that despite his often offensive language he is in fact not a fascist.

    Germany, italy and Spain have all gad fascist regiemes within living memory, to suggest that Trump intends anything similar is incongrous.

  • Stephen Howse 14th Nov '16 - 3:20pm

    ““Privilege”, “trigger warnings”, “safe spaces”, “mansplaining”, “tone policing” and “cultural appropriation”. These terms are the Language of the Left.”

    They’re not though, are they – they’re the language of a spoilt, self-important, vocal minority of children whose description of themselves as ‘left-wing’ makes a mockery of everything Orwell wrote and is making a mockery of the wider left by utterly divorcing it from its original purpose, to improve the economic lot of the ordinary man and woman.

    I agree with the article wholeheartedly – but those on the ‘left’ (and I include bread and butter socialists in this as well as social liberals) need to be careful with how we use language and not fall into the trap of abandoning the right to be ‘left-wing’ to people whose impulses and actions are anything but.

  • I very much agree with Peter Martin and Stephen Howse’s comments about how this only represents a portion of the left. I have always been left-wing and will never stop describing myself that way. Not all lefties are like this.

    That’s kind of my point I guess. A small echo chamber of left-wing people are hijacking the wider left, and alienating other Progressives as much as Conservatives. The fact that Peter can’t identify with The Guardian anymore is case in point. This narrow and judgmental mentality among some in on the left is harming our wider appeal. It’s very important that the Lib Dems don’t allow this to happen to ourselves. Parts of the Labour Party are already being destroyed by it.

  • James Baillie 14th Nov '16 - 4:46pm

    Well, this was a slightly depressing article to read with an incredibly depressing comments section following it.

    Yes, there are issues whereby theory and language don’t make an impact on the people we need to talk to, or are misapplied in trying to take academic theory and make it work in the real world. And universities are a good place for young people to start working out those things, and in some cases they’ll get it wrong. But right now even when they get it right they’re attacked by people being whiny and offended at students daring to challenge them, who will then often huff off and moan about being “censored” from their national newspaper columns. The very people who moan about how “offended” students are about things like being misgendered, or being systematically underestimated because they’re female, or having their mental health problems derided and ignored, then end up blowing steam out of their ears with rage because someone asked for content notes before reading a text. It’s beyond satire.

    The attacks on the “tumblr left” elevate a non-issue way beyond what’s reasonable. Don’t think “mansplaining” is a good word to use when talking to voters? Don’t use it when talking to voters then – which I’ve never seen us do anyway! Worried about the radical left shutting down debate? Look at a newspaper stand and ask yourself whether this is remotely reasonable! Meanwhile, for goodness’ sake stop attacking how other people talk about the problems they face, especially when it comes to the vicious attacks on discussing privilege (confusing in a party like ours, given that the abolition of entrenched privilege has been for a long time right at the heart of liberalism).

    I say this as someone white and male who grew up in small-town rural England, and who is passionate and optimistic that we as Lib Dems can build a radical, credible strategy for connecting with the sorts of people I grew up with. But we won’t do that by having these sorts of stupid arguments, pandering to inaccurate right-wing press narratives about student politics, or throwing genuine liberal concerns of any sort – be those building housing on the one hand or asserting trans people’s rights to their gender identity on the other – under the bus.

  • Jayne Mansfield 14th Nov '16 - 4:49pm

    @ Ben Andrew,

    I agree with Tony Greaves.

    Perhaps its a generational thing, but as a ‘leftie’ no longer of this parish, if people are sitting around discussing and obsessing about the appropriate use of particular words or concepts, my response is best expressed by use of the idiom, ‘fiddling while Rome burns’.

  • There’s a really interesting divide in that case Jayne. Because all of my politically active friends will be very aware of these terms – whether they are left or right. They absolutely dominate most political facebook pages or societies which are even vaguely progressive.

  • David Hopps 14th Nov '16 - 6:51pm

    Very true. Very timely. Overuse of such terms, and over-reliance on such terms as what used to be called a trump card (sadly no longer), is a prime reason why the liberal left struggles to communicate. We must challenge prejudice, but we must do in a language people understand. We often sound too intellectual and agonised for our own good. If the essence of liberalism is free speech – obviously within set limits – then we must speak in the free speech of the people.

  • David Hopps 14th Nov '16 - 7:11pm

    Sorry for 2 comments so soon after each other: But as The Guardian has been mentioned, as an ex Guardian staffer for 20 years, my loyalties to it remain undiminished but I like to feel that The Guardian under new editorship is beginning to understand this danger as well. It is not enough to win arguments using the phraseology adopted in the more learned parts of University cities and liberal intellectual watering holes in London if you have serious designs on changing the country. You must connect effectively wherever there is liberal thought. And, if this concerns you, and wrongly makes you feel you are selling out, or lowering the tone, or conceding ground, would Shakespeare have used some of these phrases, except ironically?

  • David Allen 14th Nov '16 - 7:58pm

    I confess that on occasions, I have heard someone express a valid point which is repudiated, and have spoken up in an attempt to repeat and clarify the point, in order to win it. I confess that I have done this in the past when persons of either sex have made points that have not initially got through. I recall that the reactions of those whose points I have attempted to clarify and repeat have varied between pleased agreement to, occasionally, irritation that I should have intervened. (Insofar as gender has anything to do with this, I suspect that men are a little more likely to be mildly irritated by the intervention, and women a little more likely to be pleased by the support.)

    So, clearly I could occasionally be called a “mansplainer”. So, I guess, could most people, of either gender.

    Yes, of course, sometimes this can be done in a condescending and obnoxious way. And yes, sometimes one can see that a man is doing the condescending and a woman is on the receiving end. Sometimes it is the other way round.

    What is offensive about the term “mansplaining” is that it implies that most men do it, and are hence obnoxious, while women don’t do it. That I don’t believe.

    The term “mansplaining” is just rude. When a man says something that rude about women in general, he’s a dinosaur. So why should a woman get away with being that rude about men?

  • Jennie Rigg 14th Nov '16 - 7:59pm

    James Baillie: great comment.

  • James Brough 14th Nov '16 - 8:18pm

    Certain level of irony in the number of people here shutting down debate by refusing to recognise terms that might cause them to look at their own behaviour.

    What a depressing thread.

  • Best article I’ve read on LDV for a long time. Sutton are very lucky to have you

  • I have never heard of any of these terms: they all sound like ghastly jargon and a total turn-off for any conversation.
    They do sound like some Labour supporters I know, and if they are common in political circles, no wonder ‘ordinary’ voters feel like politics is out of touch.

    My view of life echoes that famous line: “I wholly disapprove of what you say and will defend to the death your right to say it”.
    Or: I can tolerate anything except intolerance.

  • Thanks Ben, I think you’ve hit on some issues that risk getting in the way of productive discussion and debate if we’re not careful.

    The term “mission creep” hits the nail on the head. Most, if not all, of these terms are very important, and relevant when used appropriately, but when thrown around thoughtlessly, or worse, to score cheap points, it is a huge problem.

    As with most of the terms used, real misogyny is a problem, but I’m so fed up with it being used just because a man is critical of someone who happens to be a woman, regardless of tone or context. I feel its misuse is itself offensive to women, as if we ought to be immune from criticism, or mockery. If we want more women in leadership roles (and I do), then we have to accept that they will be criticised just as men in leadership roles are criticised.

    I’ve hardly ever seen the term “cultural appropriation” used appropriately. It is something that can be a problem, but in my experience, it’s mainly used by people who have no cultural understanding beyond their own immediate experiences, and often to disguise or even justify their own racism. It is used as an excuse to adopt a silo mentality to culture and can be particularly damaging for those with a mixed heritage.

    I agree that one issue we have here in the UK is that we sort-of share a language with the Americans, so we end up adopting or shunning terms without it being in any way obvious to most of us why. It’s fine for those who spend their days discussing these things, or who live in an echo chamber of political correctness, but most people don’t live this way. This adds to the sense of confusion and alienation from well meaning, and generally nice people.

  • Certainly “mansplaining” has been used on LDV, by at least one of our editors (in describing an argument I used). So we can assume it has some currency in some circles in the Lib Dems.

  • Geoffrey Payne
    The trouble with the definition of mansplaining you give is that it tells us sexism is something men do to (against) women, not that it is about discrimination on grounds of sex or gender. Men can also suffer sexism in various forms, so I don’t see a problem in anyone describing what they perceive, and men and women sharing attitudes to particular behaviours should work. In a group of liberal-ish people there will often be different attitudes and approaches shared across gender lines, so you may have a group of women and men debating on one side against a group of men and women on the other. Certainly in groups I am familiar with that often happens. Of course it is not good to patronise anyone, let alone someone purely on grounds they are a woman (or a man, for that matter), but again patronising remarks can just as easily be thrown around by a woman as by a man!

  • Most of us (certainly I am) are simple, we respond best to simple ideas and words. We don’t respond well to being lectured and positively hate being ignored. That is why the New Right thrive, they have simple ideas, neat slogans, don’t lecture and pay attention to the voters. Now there down side is their ideas are simplistic at best, there slogans are vacuous, they replace lectures with blame and their attention is just too grab peoples votes.

    I would however suggest we stop the lecturing and start using simple ideas perhaps
    ” No person left behind” would be a start.

  • Malcolm Todd 14th Nov '16 - 11:38pm

    I think one of the most irritating phrases used by people trying to shut down debate is “political correctness” (the addendum “gone mad” seems to have largely dropped out of use). I don’t know whether the reactionary right ever works itself up into similarly navel-gazing paroxysms of despair about its use.

  • Malcolm Todd 14th Nov '16 - 11:41pm

    Have just seen Andy Hinton’s eminently sensible comment immediately above/below mine. “assume it’s not all about you” hits the nail on the head. Or at least, it hits one of the nails lying about very close to something like its head, which is better than anyone else has managed, I think.

  • Peter Chambers 14th Nov '16 - 11:48pm

    There seems to be something wrong with this politically correct speech.

    It would be worse than useless to discuss them with voters like my in-laws. Their worldview is more X-Factor than John Stuart Mill, yet they have a vote each.

    To them this is a private code spoken by weird people who have been to University, so they tune it out.

    Are we still at 8% in the polls?

  • James Baillie 15th Nov '16 - 12:32am

    Peter Chambers – as far as I know none of this sort of language or speech has ever appeared on a Lib Dem leaflet and I’ve never heard it uttered by ANY of our elected representatives in interviews. Your objection appears to be unfounded. And yes, some people don’t understand this sort of terminology, but some people still use it because it’s a useful way for them of talking about the problems they face, or flagging up issues in political discussions, etc. Lots of walks of life and people have specific dialects or terms for specific circumstances – very few people know what an amirsp’asalar or an uhkutsesi is, but that doesn’t mean they’re not useful terms for my historical research! Language is used by people where it has utility, and that’s fine, and we should listen to people first not pre-emptively shut them down for the word choices they make. People seem to be calling to “purge” this language on the grounds that it won’t get across to voters, but we’re not using it for that anyway; it’s a wholly spurious attack.

  • So in response to the people like Andy, Malcolm, Jennie and James:

    As I said in my article, I do think these terms have merit. I use them sometimes myself. I just feel like there is now a culture (which all of you are reinforcing) which says that anyone who uses one of these buzzwords against another person must necessarily be correct all of the time, no matter what. And if the person who is accused of committing one of these crimes thinks it seems unfair, then the only possible solution is to further reflect and then decide that they were being problematic after all. So it’s no surprise that many people have learned that they can get away with using these terms whenever they want just to shut people up who disagree with them. And that if they do this, people like you guys will always come to their defence – regardless of the circumstances.

    And to address the familiar claim that people like me should just “shut up and listen to POCs/Women’s views, and educate myself” – women and minorities are in no way united on these issues either. I have spoken to dozens of BAME people and women who agree with my point of view. One of the biggest fallacies on this subject is that the most radical and accusatory woman/POC in the room is always right, and that they speak for women/POCs in general. They don’t.

    I’m not saying that it’s not important to check your own behaviour, of course it is. I am a feminist and a race equality advocate, and I think that these sorts of issues are extremely important. I just don’t subscribe to this emerging culture that I’m observing, which says that if you accuse anyone who disagrees with you of one of these grave crimes against leftism, they must always be in the wrong, and must hang their heads in shame.

    It is extremely alienating to 99% of people, and I suspect that those inside this particular echo chamber don’t appreciate quite how removed from society their outlook really is.

  • Oh and also for James – I’m certainly not saying that we are using these terms in our leaflets, thank god! Just that normal people who observe causes such as feminism and racial activism are immediately confronted with this bizarre web of rules and a hyper-accusatory atmosphere and are quickly put off altogether!

  • Heartily agree with this. One thing liberalism means to me is tolerance for free speech and dissenting opinions, even if framed in unpleasant ways.

    Only complaint: “progressive” should also be on the list of unhelpful words. It’s ugly and patronising. Everyone wants progress but has different views on what it is.

  • Malcolm Todd 15th Nov '16 - 1:13am

    Wow, Ben. Just wow. Was it Andy, Jennie, James or me who told you to “shut up and listen”? I seem to have missed that. But you know, you must be right because “people like [us] guys” are always doing that.

    Sometimes, people use really annoying language. (Somebody upthread used the phrase “End of” – really, really annoying and a genuine attempt to literally close down debate.) Sometimes, people invent more or less useful language and other, ignorant or annoying people misuse it. If you allow it to close you down that’s really your problem. If you think it’s what’s undermining liberal politics in the modern world, I think you’re falling for a Daily Mail narrative.

  • Woah Malcolm, sorry to irk you. I wasn’t directly referring to you guys with “the shut up and listen” thing – sorry if it came off strong. It’s just something which a lot of people say who make the same argument, so I was addressing the wider point.

    The sentiment of the point was expressed by Andy who said: “Assume instead that maybe there is something to what they are saying, and maybe you need to do some work to understand it”. This is phrased much more nicely (to his credit) and I of course agree that it’s important to listen to people and reflect. But the implication is that once you truly understand what the aggrieved person is saying, then you will inevitably decide that their accusation was valid. This is not true.

    I’m quite plainly not falling for a Daily Mail narrative. I said in my article that I if you don’t think mansplaining exists then you’re not looking hard enough. Not a Daily Mail opinion at all.

    My issue is with the way that these opaque terms are sometimes used unfairly, and that like-minded people swarm to condemn those who are accused of these crimes regardless of the context. It’s not literally an objection with the words themselves. Again, as I said in the article.

    As a side note, I have hardly ever been personally accused of these things! I try not to get involved in angry Facebook arguments anymore if I can help it, and this piece is more of an observation of what I have witnessed from stalking other people’s debates! So this isn’t just an angry butt-hurt rant against things I keep being accused of – promise!

  • Also we should all go to bed haha. I ended up basically living on US time after following the baseball, and now I can’t get off of this timezone. Politics on the internet is bad influence!

  • Katharine Pindar 15th Nov '16 - 2:02am

    Interesting article and comments, but since it was all new to me and I assumed it was mostly a problem for the young and on social media, I wasn’t going to add anything. But I am now doing, because I have noticed a very slight tendency for faintly patronising comments from some blokes about women’s remarks on LDV, often taking the form of instantly, but of course legitimately, contradicting them. And I was reminded of that when I read Tynan’s comment beginning ‘Now, now, Jennie’, and am surprised that nobody else has commented on how openly patronising – and I suppose mansplaining! – that phrase was. Actually, Tynan, your comment was full of mispellings too – so I’m now being patronising back to you – or should I say, matronising, I wonder? Incidentally, there are (at least) two words I hate, both American – ‘guy’ and ‘smart’, but I won’t get excited about any of this. Thanks for the piece, Ben.

  • Teresa Lewis 15th Nov '16 - 2:09am

    There’s also ‘micro-aggressions’ which are just innocent throwaway remarks that add up even when expressed by different people so the offended feels justified at exploding at the last person in the day who expressed one of these. The concept of ‘micro-aggressions’ have resulted in ‘safe spaces’ which I previously thought only applied to an event or a room.

    Also ‘privilege’ especially irks me because any privilege outweighs any oppression. So if you fall into any one ‘privileged’ group you are then expected to apologise for existence and people sharing your demographic for centuries of oppression.

    It’s also pretty ironic that the easily offended are usually not sensitive to the feelings and needs of others and don’t care who they hurt when they overreact towards ‘micro-aggressions’ and ‘triggers’. The same ones who post up memes on Facebook explaining that they never ‘sugar coat’ their words.

  • I don’t mind buzzwords and different slang creeping in. Some of these phrase are useful. What I was trying to get across is that British cultural tensions are still more Hogarth, shop lifting and council estates than they are Crumb, stick ups and the projects. British schools aren’t like American schools. There are no jocks because sport isn’t linked to education in the same way etc. We don’t have Frat House or sororities, there’s little gun ownership and the language of trigger warnings (for example) is to defuse situations in a very different country. In truth Britain has more in common with Belgium or Norway than the USA. We are people who apologise when someone stands on our foot (or is that just me?). And that’s what we’re doing here, apologising to the person who stood on our foot. Of course trigger warnings and safe spaces didn’t cause Donald Trump. We agree to disagree. I don’t think nationalism is innately bad. Others do. I support leaving the EU. Others don’t.
    Here’s what I actually think. Theresa May is a C of E person doing what she thinks is right, Boris Johnson is an attention seeking buffoon an , Farage is a the rotary club chairman with a cause. Trump is PT Barnum crossed with a shock jock and Le Pen is a full on card carrying fascist who would absolutely set up camps to repatriate people .

  • We mistake silence for acquiescence, often it’s the exact opposite and how the voters let us know. We need to listen more and lecture less.

  • Jayne Mansfield 15th Nov '16 - 8:50am

    @ Katharine Pindar,
    Tynan has explained that he has poor eyesight and problems with the computer, as a consequence. What has this got to do with spelling? Well I find that I can’t spell and put my apostrophe’s in the correct place on may occasions, poor eyesight and the slowness with which one has to type leads to multiple errors.

    Also, surely it is the quality of his argument and not whether he can spell or not that is the important issue.

    It is this nit picking that is turning off people who might not have had the benefit of a university education.

    I fundamentally disagree with Tynan. One only has to look at his initial appointments to suss out the politics of Trump.

  • @Andy Hilton
    “I’ve had very few experiences where someone objected to something I said, when listening in good faith to the objection and, if I then deemed it appropriate, offering an apology did not serve me well. ”

    Quite. The word ‘mansplain’ is completely sexist and offensive. Please listen and stop using it.

  • Here’s a basic guide:

    What to do:

    If you feel someone has patronised you then the thing to do is politely point out why you feel their comment is patronising and why it doesn’t add substance to the discussion.

    What not to do:

    Use a term of abuse, such as ‘mansplaining’, to refer to the behaviour of the individual, as if their behaviour was a biological facet of being a man.

  • Very timely article. While indeed this kind of language may be confined to facebook, it does also feature in the left-leaning media too. See for example this recent article by a leading Guardian columnist accusing X-Factor’s Honey G of “cultural appropriation” and indeed “modern-day blackface:
    The key point seems to be that white people shouldn’t rap unless they are very good and do not have a tongue-in-cheek approach.
    I chose to treat this rather surreal article as a self-parody of where the liberal left has gone wrong. But I can see that this kind of writing could genuinely offend many people, including all those who voted for Honey-G as a bit of fun! This kind of thing is red meat to the likes of the Daily Mail. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

  • Jayne Mansfield 15th Nov '16 - 9:35am

    @ James Baillie,
    Is this criticism solely or mainly directed at students, still in the main, young people?
    I had to look up tumblr is.

    I agree with you about the need to explore new ideas and concepts, and that this requires new language as the existing language proves inadequate. As budding professionals we had to find a new language to describe them, but the general population was dismissive, calling it ‘jargon’. We therefore had to limit this new language to discussions between ourselves, and find better way of communicating with the public at large. We got it wrong sometimes too, and some believe that as professionals we are being patronising when we try to break down complicated concepts into everyday language.

    Sometimes one can’t do right for doing wrong!

  • I didn’t say anything about “now now Jennie” because it would not be worth the howls of outrage that would inevitably ensue about how I am cruelly attacking someone who can’t help typing patronising comments because he has poor eyesight and trouble with the computer.

    But, you know, people who use terms like “mansplaining” are the ones shutting down debate.

  • @Jennie Rigg

    Anyone using the term ‘mansplaining’ is deliberately using offensive, sexist language.

    Why would they do that? Have you got an explanation?

  • James Baillie 15th Nov '16 - 11:14am

    Jayne – in my experience criticism of “the sorts of people who use these terms” is in the vast majority directed at students. A lot of this terminology – modern theories about privilege for example – has academic origins from which it has been repurposed into a vocabulary for student activists in particular. I worry that these sorts of articles feed or fuel a generic narrative, often found in the right-wing press, that today’s leftist students are all really just delicate petals who don’t want their feelings hurt and create horrible authoritarian illiberal structures to ensure that, which from my recent experience across two major UK universities as a liberal just isn’t accurate or how things work on campuses at all. Of course activists’ jargon shouldn’t be used in general communications, and this can be a problem for students or people in spheres that use this sort of vocab when trying to communicate with the public. To the extent that there’s an overlap between those spheres and the Lib Dems, it’s surely our job as fellow party members to help facilitate communication through jargon barriers rather than shutting down people for using jargon someone doesn’t like.

    Ben – I just don’t think that culture is anything like as widespread or dominant as you make out. Of course it happens very occasionally, but I think starting a chorus of condemnation against a group that, from the comments, evidently many LDV readers don’t even come into contact with and few actually have much issue with is just overblown. I’d contend that the vast majority of people who use this terminology do so in good faith, and that the risks of making people feel they can’t express or utilise these concepts (which do, as you note yourself, have significant utility) are significantly greater than the risk of a small number of discussions in what everyone here admits are really quite specific circles being derailed. Generally if someone wants to derail a discussion in bad faith they’ll do so anyway – I don’t see why there’s such a desperate need to single out the few people who use this particular sort of technical jargon to do so.

  • “technical jargon”

    ‘Mansplaining’ isn’t technical jargon and it most certainly isn’t academic; it is a term of sexist abuse. If we don’t denounce its use then we similarly can’t denounce the likes of Trump and Farage and the electorate will view both the liberal-left and reactionary-right as being equivalently prejudiced.

  • Let’s get this right!

    I get put on moderation out for calling out sexist language.

    Users of sexist language are free to write what they like.


  • I’ll add a couple more:
    “lived experience”
    “victim blaming”

    To those under the misapprehension that Academia use these terms carefully and in a very narrow clearly defined way or that there are sensible theories grounded in reality underpinning them just have a read of the Twitter account of “New Real Peer Review” which picks out some of the funnier examples:
    And when someone tried to claim they were over simplifying the work and tried to defend a particular paper, they explained on a blog:
    Academia is pumping out plenty of meaningless woo.

  • The article is dead right. As liberals, we should eschew this incompetently concocted nonsense language, which is bullying in its use and degrades the discourse, and we must reject some of the underlying ideological assumptions that it surreptitiously imports. For me, “cultural appropriation” is about the most ridiculous of these catch phrases. If we are to be free of this latter-day sin, then neither the words “culture” nor “appropriation” could we use without doing something wicked to the ancient Romans.

    Some say that this politically correct gobbledegook is a tool of sectarian ID politics, a carefully orchestrated device that seeks to get us fighting each other rather than the real enemy. Perhaps there is more than a grain of truth in that.

  • @James I think you and everyone on this thread make some really good points. I disagree that this sort of behavior is the exception rather than the rule, but I suppose that’s just us drawing on what we’ve personally seen and heard from others.

    The only thing I’d like to emphasize again is that my message is not “people should stop using these terms”. My message is “people should stop feigning outrage so readily and accusing people of doing something terrible, when they actually are just trying to score a point or win an argument.” That is where my issue lies. But this sort of jargon is the tool which these people tend to hide behind. It is a particularly effective weapon – because many outside of their echo chamber don’t fully understand these terms, many of which refer to offenses which it is difficult to ever disprove you have done.

    I’m not condoning the the rubbish which the right wing press print to patronize students and the left. I’m just pointing out a trend which I, and many others, have observed, and think is harmful.

  • Joe Otten:
    “You know I can’t recall ever being shut down in the way described in the OP when trying to make a point.”
    Well I haven’t been “shut down” but that doesn’t mean people haven’t used thought terminating accusations against me. I just find it funny.
    We have accusations of misogyny against for the police giving out safety advice:
    Or suggestions others are racists because they don’t think throwing the term around like confetti is a good idea?
    This happens if you don’t notice it I’m a bit concerned. The problem for the LibDem is anything that reduces clarity in discussion or reduces the likelihood of bad ideas being addressed.

  • @Joe Otten

    Thank you for your reply.

    A term that contains the word ‘woman’ or ‘man’ that applies a behaviour to the entire group, even if there is a statistically greater likelihood of a man being patronising, is, by definition, sexist in a very clear, explicit and unarguable manner. Indeed, it is the very definition of sexism, or racism, or whatever other form of discriminatory language, to apply a behavioural trait to an entire ‘group’ of people based on a shared characteristic of gender, ethnicity, etc.

    Do I really have to explain that in this day and age?

    Are any of these are acceptable on here? :


    Of course they’re not – they’re deeply ignorant and offensive and, rightly, wouldn’t be allowed if anyone tried to use them. There is no difference with allowing ‘mansplaining’, and when someone does allow it then it says that one form of ignorance is acceptable and that another isn’t, which, to many outsiders simply makes liberals look as intolerant and hateful as the reactionary right.

  • On Mansplaining:
    Interestingly when this is used I have regularly asked and am yet to hear an answer. As we are normally discussing public policy on here how is the term useful. Almost all public policy actions (or collective action by private organisations/individuals) will have an effect heavily impacted by the reactions of people, both man and women. How does “mansplaining” add anything to the debate?
    And if we were to take this to its conclusion:
    – Man patronising woman: Mansplaining
    – Man patronising man: patronising
    – Woman patronising woman: patronising
    – Woman patronising man: Femsplaining
    So now we have three words when previously we had one that was perfectly adequate, marvellous!
    I’ll add a point from a leftwinger from 1946 about clear communication:
    “Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of
    an everyday English equivalent.”
    Back then the left was confident their message well communicated would actually persuade people, I wonder why some people feel the need to invent new duplicate provocative words these days?

  • Martin Clarke 15th Nov '16 - 2:30pm

    I think the biggest issue is not whether or not these terms are offensive, annoying, etc,
    The biggest issue is that they damage the Liberal/Progressive cause. We shame people into silence and then assume that this silence means agreement, only to find that come the election these silent people don’t agree with us at all. Maybe this is why the right always seems to do better in elections than polling suggests.

  • Jayne Mansfield 15th Nov '16 - 4:15pm

    @ James Baillie,
    Thank you James. Splendid posts.

  • Andy Hinton
    ‘Who gets to decide when such terms are “sensible”’
    I don’t know who get to “decide” probably no one but I would suggest that they should never be used is discussing public policy questions. They tend to be loaded terms which hinder sensible discussion and when there is any hypothesis (theory would be too generous) it is normally poorly defined and not useful to the discussion.

    What is wrong with using clear well defined language to have the discussion?

  • Jennie Rigg

    “Every single time I have seen someone saying “you’re shutting down debate” what they actually mean is […]”
    Interesting psychic powers.

    “I didn’t say anything about “now now Jennie” because it would not be worth the howls of outrage that would inevitably ensue about how I am cruelly attacking someone who can’t help typing patronising comments because he has poor eyesight and trouble with the computer.”

    Why not? If you found it patronising, you can say so I don’t see anyone suggesting anything is wrong with that. If you were to say “patronising” a clear descriptive term what would be the basis of the complaint, if you chose to use “mansplaining” you are choosing a less clear gendered slur, again fine b ut expect significant judgement from some people and your argument to be less persuasive. If, as was the issue above, you make comments about typos not content again expect judgement. But the choice is yours.

    “An actual fascist is about to assume the presidency of the USA and LDV is printing articles about how the left are too sensitive?”

    Well its interesting that you see no connection. In the US Trumps opponents spent much of the campaign shouting “fascist,” “racist,” “sexist,” “homophobe,” at him, and the result was…? The name calling and branding dominated to the point that very little space was really left for sensible discussion of just how bad his policies were and why. Have you considered those of us on here who strongly object to the “brand your opponent” approach do so because it is counter productive?

  • ‘He’d come to love big brother’
    As have many of you.
    heesh! I am no progressive but, do you not even want to be in power again? For those who’d rather constantly have the higher ground, may l recommend a rather good film for those difficult election nights.
    ‘The last supper’…not sure if I was supposed to laugh that much, but , you may enjoy it.

  • Hi Jennies

  • You make my point for me, enjoy the film.

  • I blame my education under labour for my illiberal comments and deferred success at typing.
    Note with interest comments from those posing as female gender identity and the suppressed anger in comments.
    Interesting times.

  • Jayne Mansfield 16th Nov '16 - 8:01am

    @ tynan,
    ‘I blame my education under labour for my illiberal comments and deferred success at typing’,

    If I were you tynan, I would place more blame for my predicament on those who came up with the well understood term, ‘ Give someone enough rope and they will……’.

    My own biological children were educated during the labour years and have made an amazing success of their lives. As have some of the children we cared for who had the most appalling start in life.

    The children who had been in care who came to us, often had an enormous chip on their shoulder. We fully understood why that might be and acknowledged it. We also told them that we could not change the past, but we could if we helped each other, change the future. This often meant them unlearning the habit of blaming everyone else for their predicament and learning to take responsibility for some of the things that their continuing behaviour brought upon themselves.

    Who is ‘jennies’? To whom are you referring when you speak of those ‘posing’ as female identities? Are you just a silly boy posing as a man?

  • Tynan

    I’ed put the shovel down. I like people of other parties posting on LDV as it brings a different perspective (I’m assuming you are a Tory from your first comment). But there are points that are different value judgements and there are bad arguments.

  • There’s a good deal of truth in this, despite the fact that since puberty I’ve thought I was broadly left-wing on the issues that are traditional left-right ones (with a growing awareness that some issues didn’t fit this measure), and three of your five examples are new to me, certainly not part of the discourse that regularly flows around me, even when talking with Labour members. I’m used to a different set of alienating terms – step change, transformation agenda, signposting, strategic – some of which are useful and some aren’t.

    The useful buzzwords can all be translated. Ben’s point is not that “mansplaining”, for example, is not a useful word, but that 90% plus of the population won’t understand it, or will have to stop to think it out. So this is about remembering the audience. Use “mansplaining” (or “matronising”, which I invented last week) in the pub with like-talking friends, but not on the street or in a letter to a paper. Also think about the meaning behind the word and don’t use it to close down discussion, as once happened with an acusation of political incorrectness and now, outside the Guardian Readers Circle, more often happens when you challenge offensive language or behaviour and get accused of being “politically correct”.

  • Ben Andrew & Simon Banks

    Given that you have both said these terms are useful in circumstances you can imagine. Could you perhaps provide an example of what you mean for example the most commented on this thread is “Mansplaining.”

    What are the circumstances when this or “Femsplaining” or “Matronising” (as Simon introduced it) would be better terms to use than “patronising” or other well understood term?

    It is interesting as I have repeatedly asked on thread after thread what benefit these gendered terms (that certainly look like they were in vented to be provocative) actually fulfil in any discussion that would be had on LDV, but I actually can’t think of any use at all for them.

    Ort were you both just trying to sound conciliatory by avoiding that people were using pointless jargon which would not add anything to discussion?

  • @Psi

    I think that some men often explain things to women in a patronizing and over-confident way, just because they assume to have more authority on a subject because they are male. This is something which I (and many others) have seen happen again and again, and ‘mansplaining’ is a way of flagging it up when it happens. It’s quite useful to point out to these people that the only reason they are being so dismissive/authoritative is because they are a man talking to a woman, and just assume that they know more than her on the subject.

    I don’t think there’s a trend of women assuming they know more than men about a subject because they’re women, so ‘femsplaining’ is a redundant word in my view.

  • Just when you thought peak madness had been cranked all the way to the full max of 10, Sweden goes to 11 and breaks the dial.?

  • Ben Andrew

    Thanks for the response.

    So men being patronising to women because they are women, and you state that:
    “This is something which I (and many others) have seen happen again and again”
    So these people are never patronising to men, and they are not motivated by a personal dislike of the individual (only their gender), has nothing to do with perception comparative levels of experience, perception comparative levels of expertise, perception specific knowledge of the issue, a bad method of basic social skills, being in a bad mood generally, or any other perceived difference other than gender.
    I have witnessed many people being patronising, I would never have been confident enough to have been willing to state their motivation for certain. The occasion I see it most is when someone is speaking to a similarly experience individual of comparable level who they appear to perceive as lacking their expertise and encroaching on “their area.”

    If we accept for a moment my level of confidence in peoples psychic abilities, very few (if any) examples would meet these tests. At that point the term can only be described as “a man being patronising to a woman.”

  • Angry Steve 16th Nov '16 - 1:55pm

    @Ben Andrew

    If you are incapable of realising how sexist, offensive and deliberately provocative the word ‘mansplaining’ is then I would kindly suggest you stay away from political discourse. We have never been in more need of mature political debate. Justifying the use of words that are deliberately designed to create conflict and division is not acceptable.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Nov '16 - 1:57pm

    Ben psi

    I frequently get patronised on here by older , and leftier veteran Liberals of the pre merger sort , and in person sometimes , and they and are are male ! All harmless fun , and maddening too !

    I do believe that the sort of sexism that is right condemned in the ghastly so called word mansplainig , exists , but , just as I do not feel able to call myself a feminist , not because of lack of sympathy or empathy , but because it feels like more patronising misappropriation of something that is not mine , I do not feel on the receiving end , so it is hard to be certain of .

    I do know that older or leftier or right wing politicos can be insuferable sometimes !

  • Ben, my second issue is that you say:
    “It’s quite useful to point out to these people”
    I would ask, on what basis do you say that?
    Lets look at what you are saying by using the term, you are saying that the individual is a misogynist (in the original sense of hating women in general, not the current debased usage) as they are rude to people purely due to their gender and nothing else. What are the likely responses?
    1) You have misread the situation and this is not true, the person will become defensive and your opinion in their eyes will plummet making them highly unlikely to be persuaded to anything else you have said.
    2) They are a misogynist and won’t care, I can’t see that having them not care about you using this term is any more than if you were just to say “you are being patronising” as if you want to change their behaviour it will take more than “branding” their behaviour.

    As for your suggestion:
    “I don’t think there’s a trend of women assuming they know more than men about a subject because they’re women”
    Applying either my example definition from earlier or you assumptions based model it clearly does, though #I will have to explain it later when I have time to ensure I am clear and don’t give the wrong impression of certain people.

  • Lorenzo Cherin

    I have certainly seen plenty of older Lefitier (this is one made up word I’m less irritated by just for humour value) Liberals patronise both men and women, to think that we need separate words for the target is disturbing. I’m yet to be convinced of any value it brings.

    Though credit to Ben, after asking over several years on different threads he is the first to try and actually answer the question. Though I’m not convinced by the answer.

    As I have often had to say to these discussions ( thought the filters on LDV have an issue with ) this is not a gender issue.

    I would suggest though you appear to also be assuming the motive of the patroniser, the patronised individual is not best placed to decide the motivation, only how they feel and respond. I think we can both think of some grumpy old …folk… who patronise both genders.

  • AngrySteve

    “the use of words that are deliberately designed to create conflict and division is not acceptable.”

    A quick one, I wouldn’t say it is not acceptable. The person assaying it may be looking to create conflict and division, but if people choose to use gendered terms intended to attack others they should expect to get criticised for that in the same way someone using different gendered terms would.

    They also need to accept that a significant number of people will devalue their opinions on that and probably other issues too. But if that is what someone wants to achieve, they are free to do so. Political discussion is not all about getting on with each other, but if people want to win they need to have credibility.

  • Ok, maybe I shouldn’t have used ‘not acceptable’. I should have said that it completely undermines the entire liberal cause and the fight against prejudice. Trying to tackle male sexism by inventing and throwing around female sexist terms isn’t the way forward. From a practical point of view though, if a political party doesn’t stamp down on this kind of thing it is dead in the water. I’m intrinsically against banning things, but for a political party to be successful it needs to be professional and put its foot down on language that would not be tolerated in the workplace.

  • I’m not denying that all types of people are often patronizing in all directions. Women can patronize men, old can patronize young, young can patronize old – it all happens. No one is denying that.

    But a lot of people have noticed a trend: that men are often patronizing and dismissive of women, for no clear reason except that they are women. Of course there are cases where you can write this off as someone having a bad day, feeling particularly strongly on a topic, or just genuinely being more informed. But when you see the pattern continuing over a long period of time and in many different contexts, it becomes clear that the gendered element is relevant.

    This isn’t the sort of thing which I can prove to you with a list of statistics. It’s ultimately down to the behaviour which we all observe around us. But I think that if you look out for this trend with an open mind – especially in conversations about “intellectual subjects” – you may well recognize it too. Think about it when you are having debates in the pub, in class, or in the office. Doesn’t it seem like men tend to do more of the talking? That women get dismissed more quickly and are more likely to be patronized? That men often explain things authoritatively to women, when they actually have no more expertise on the subject than she does? I have certainly noticed this – and many millions of others have too.

    Finally, in response to Psi’s comment at 2:05, I am absolutely not saying that anyone who is guilty of mansplaining must be a misogynist. Gendered norms about how men and women should behave are pretty firmly ingrained into people’s heads. I think most men have probably been guilty of mansplaining at some point – myself included. The reason it is valuable to call it out for what it is, is so that people think twice before dismissing a woman’s opinion unfairly, and reflect on if they are being bias against her because of her gender.

    I do agree that the usage of these terms has gotten out of hand (as I argue in my article) and I can see why that puts a lot of people off of them altogether. I seem to be fighting a war on two opposite fronts in this comment section! I suppose I’m a classic Lib Dem, taking the middle ground 😉

  • Ben

    “I think that if you look out for this trend with an open mind”

    Well here is the rub, you have a self-conflicting statement. Observing with an open mind is to gather information on how the world really is. Looking out for a particular type of behaviour will certainly yield results, but certainly false positives, that is confirmation bias for you.

    If you are told that men patronise women because they are women, you will see a man patronising a woman and assume that is the case when the same man patronises another man you will dismiss that as caused by some other reason.

    It may be men are more often patronising (or are more obvious about it) but we notice and remember more when it is done to a woman.

    Another issue is the respective roles, I have certainly seen people be patronising to HR staff (they are often in the position of having to say no to bad/risky ideas) a specialism which is heavily female dominated. Again patronising HR staff is not due to them being women it is because they are trying to head of lawsuits and hurting someone’s ego in the process.

    Apparently the original article that lead the coining of the phrase (the “victim” having subsequently stated she didn’t like the term) was of an author being told about her own book by a much older man who seems to have been on broadcast, regurgitating a book review he read. Interestingly I didn’t see that she had really considered that the person may have behaved in the same way to a man.

    I have certainly witnessed the sorts of ‘old bores’ that behave this way, but I’ve seen them do it to both men or women, normally younger. It normally looks like the old bore is basically just a not very interesting person who uses regurgitation as a conversation technique. Or we could pick out the just the women they speak too and attribute motivation that we can’t evidence.

    As for if I see men patronising women in my work place? I don’t know many men who would be brave enough, and of those who would be I don’t know any rude enough.

    Also, for clarity I’m not saying the motivation some choose to attribute is never there, it will be (as it will be with women in reverse). The point is assuming someone’s motivation is very dangerous ground and these gendered terms are counterproductive.

  • AngrySteve
    I’ed agree with your last point.

    If anyone disagrees with your last sentence:

    “for a political party to be successful it needs to be professional and put its foot down on language that would not be tolerated in the workplace.”

    I assume they would react angrily to those who complained about the use of the word “darlin” in this thread:

  • @Psi

    Your claim that no one can ever consciously check to see if a trend exists in people’s behavior seems a bit overblown. Of course confirmation bias is a thing, and when people look for something which they are desperate to see, then they tend to see it. But you can’t just assert that everyone who has ever observed “mansplaining” must just be seeing what they want to see. I have no vested interest in believing that mansplaining exists, or some chip on my shoulder. It’s just something which I have observed.

    And as I said, there are many different ways that people can patronize each other. But men assuming that their opinion’s have greater authority than women, is one such trend that many people have noticed. Of course it’s difficult to prove this beyond reasonable doubt in every individual case. But just because something is complicated or difficult to pin down, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

    All I can argue at this point is that if you think about who tends to dominate conversations, talk over people more often, and assume authority on a subject for no clear reason – it will tend to be men who do this to women. If your response is to say that as soon as you look for any trend in people’s behavior then you immediately adopt blinding confirmation bias and can’t trust what you observe – then I suppose there’s not really anywhere we can go from there.

    I’m going to stop commenting on this now, because we could go on forever! But thanks very much for reading and engaging with my article, and have a good evening 🙂

    As for @AngrySteve – I’m sorry if my language offends you. I think that these things depend a lot on context. As I say in my article, I do think that these words are often used unfairly, lazily and aggressively. But I don’t think using it in the right circumstances to point out an inherently gendered dynamic is a problem. (I wouldn’t dream of using it on the doorstep though of course!)

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 16th Nov '16 - 10:02pm

    Editorial note.

    I’ve had to “pull” Angry Steve, I’m afraid, on a charge of using an apparently false e-mail address. Remember, you should be who you say you are. And, if Angry Steve would like to rebut that, [email protected] is the e-mail address to reach us at…

    Oh, and yes, you’ll actually be in moderation once I work out how.

  • Ben

    What I said:
    “Observing with an open mind is to gather information on how the world really is. Looking out for a particular type of behaviour will certainly yield results, but certainly false positives, that is confirmation bias for you.”

    What you heard:
    “no one can ever consciously check to see if a trend exists in people’s behavior”

    Then you state:
    “you can’t just assert that everyone who has ever observed “mansplaining” must just be seeing what they want to see.”

    In response to my:
    “I’m not saying the motivation some choose to attribute is never there, it will be”

    Well you certainly illustrate confirmation bias well. And to clarify it is not just:
    “when people look for something which they are desperate to see”
    That tends to be more of the dishonest approach with advocacy research. Most of the time it is actually people just having a particular world view and interpreting everything in line with that. Primary age children play games that show this point over things they don’t care about, so it is hardly ever intended.

    People can make observations about the world but if you are going to judge someone else you need to make the effort to challenge your assumptions that will be influencing your perspective.

    Another point I have made before is that LibDems have (rightly) no problem recognising that most people who make errors in benefit claims are simply making errors and have no ill intent. We defend against attacks on the presumption of innocence in the justice (sadly only most of the time). Yet when it comes to personal interactions so many seem to take the least charitable interpretation (see comments about Leave voters).

    You mention:
    “I have no vested interest in believing that mansplaining exists”

    That is not how confirmation bias normally works (though it can) it is framing experiences through your world view which may be skewed.

    As I have made clear above I’m not saying it never happens, but assuming motive is dangerous. And to be clear I have never stated anything like:
    “as soon as you look for any trend in people’s behavior then you immediately adopt blinding confirmation bias and can’t trust what you observe”

    I’ed notice that all of your defence is related to personal interactions not usage in discussion public policy, perhaps we will clarify that on another thread. I’ll post a separate point on “femsplaining.”

  • Ben

    On “femsplaining” (or “matronising”)

    To be clear I don’t think this is a useful term for the same reasons as “mansplaining” and I would argue against both, but if you have one you will have the other.

    I was going to use some specific examples but I’m not comfortable picking on particular people’s behaviour when in other areas they don’t exhibit this behaviour (and may have subsequently changed their minds). So I’ll stick to the abstract.

    There are several topics where the obsession with “lived experience” appears to warp certain people’s experience.

    A few topics you will often see already some women talking in a similarly to that you describe “mansplaining” a few of them are:
    Child birth;
    Breast feeding;
    Domestic violence.

    In discussion in person or online you will find women to are very dismissive of men’s (or those they perceive to be men) views. Normally these people have a narrow experience/understanding and choose to extrapolate from that (hence why “lived experience” should just be called what it is, anecdote).

    Now some of these women will also behave this way towards other women that they have preconceptions about (assuming they are too young to have experience/knowledge) but it is hard to tell who only applies it to men and who to wider groups. As I said above, best not to assume but that has to be a consistent position.

  • Jayne Mansfield 17th Nov '16 - 9:09am

    If a man told me about his experience of prostate cancer, I wouldn’t tell him that what he was telling me was anecdote. I would respect the fact that this was his ‘lived experience’.
    Anecdote and ‘lived experience’ are not the same thing and I object very strongly to any suggestion that they are.

    Of course, if there are issues that one has not experienced that one can only feel empathy for (or not), but one can only feel true empathy by listening and understanding the lived experience of those who have had the experience. Over time, personal experiences, despite some variations, provides insights as patterns emerge that we can learn from, and adapt our behaviour accordingly.

    Often these insights are a spur to formal research that extend our knowledge and understanding. I could give some examples:-
    Breast Feeding
    Domestic violence

  • If a man told me about his experience of prostate cancer, I wouldn’t tell him that what he was telling me was anecdote. I would respect the fact that this was his ‘lived experience’.

    What if that man told you how he was kidnapped and experimented on by aliens?

    Or, more prosaically, what if he told you how he was followed all the way down the road by a threatening black man who he could just tell was looking for an opportunity to beat him up?

    Sometimes how people perceive things — their ‘lived experience’ — is not the reality.

  • Jayne Mansfield
    “Anecdote and ‘lived experience’ are not the same thing”

    You appear to be attaching a value judgement to anecdote that is different to the one I am. Anecdotes can be valuable to illustrate a point, either of an “average” experience or an extreme (positive or negative) which if well deployed can help illustrate what would be a dry and potentially impenetrable topic. However what people inherently understand with anecdotes is that they are not to be used to extrapolate from.

    Most people I know (and the families of those who have died) who have suffered complex illnesses like Cancer etc are very aware that their experience is unique to them so all they are only able to offer anecdotal perspective.

    This is getting off topic now, but to illustrate the danger over valuing anecdotes. Breastfeeding is a topic where too many who either found it easy (or over came the initial difficulty and had no further challenges) become almost religious zealots of the “Brest is Best” movement. This leads them to actually be very unhelpful to those new mothers who are struggling and actually want help with bottles, this is at a time when new mothers are very vulnerable and at heightened risks of PND.

    Too often systems that are supposed to support new mums, simply encourage guilt and feelings of failure. Often what is needed is someone (male or female) to point out the facts and that the research that has been given to them has limits and need to be understood in context of their lives, which can mean that switching to the method that works for them is perfectly ok. In these circumstances you can certainly see the self appointed expert quoting their “lived experience” as a method of dismissing those who are explaining switching is fine.

    Bringing it back to the point, motivation of those (probably well meaning) self-appointed experts in dismissing the opinions of men who try and reassure the struggling mum could be assumed, but I don’t think we should assume people’s motives.

  • Jayne Mansfield 17th Nov '16 - 4:36pm

    @ Psi.
    Any professional of any gender, paediatricians, midwives health visitors etc., now believes that it is their duty to share the best current evidence so that mothers can make an INFORMED choice. The alternative to sharing this information, is to say nothing in a society where research shows that those most likely to choose to breast feed are older, more educated women from higher social classes who are perfectly able to access the information for themselves? Once women have made a choice it is then the professionals’ job to make sure that her choice is made as safe as possible for her and her baby.

    Post Natal depression is a very serious matter and more research is needed, one should not simply assume the triggers. We already know from some studies that 1 in 10 men suffer from it and also what some of the triggers are.

    Anecdote. I believe that violence when prefixed with the cosy term ‘domestic’, is in need of an overhaul. Given that two women every week in England and Wales are killed by a partner or ex partner, my own view is that the term ‘Femicide’ more accurately reflects reality. Each woman’s experience of this type of violence is unique but actually one can and should extrapolate from these unique experiences because each woman’ s experience builds up a picture as patterns emerge, that enables us to determine the scale and the underlying causes which in this case are not unique, they are related to issues of power and control.

    I acknowledge that research is not value free, but where it exists it is the best tool we have to beat value laden opinion that is unsupported by evidence.

    I’m starting to be more and more persuaded on the need for new terminology such as mansplaining.

  • Jayne Mansfield

    “I’m starting to be more and more persuaded on the need for new terminology such as mansplaining.”

    Perhaps you could elaborate?

  • Jayne Mansfield 18th Nov '16 - 9:40am

    @ Psi,
    After reading around the subject, it seems quite clear to me that the term refers to the behaviour exhibited by SOME men, not all men.

    If some people misuse the term, well I am afraid that people frequently misuse language. If a particular man thinks that the term has been misapplied to him personally, it is up to him to challenge the judgement made against him and give reasons why.

    What I have found interesting about this thread, is that Ben mentions several new terms, but it is just one, ‘mansplaining’ that is the one receiving all the attention.

    I would have been more interested to know how liberals square freedom of speech with ‘ support for ‘safe places’. For example, the attempt that was made to prevent Maryam Namazie from speaking at Warwick University and the heckling from some whn the decision was overturned, because she was invading their ‘safe space’. Similarly reports that the President of Goldsmith’s Islamic society sent a letter to the University’s Atheists, Secularists and Humanist society asking them to cancel a talk she was to give because it ‘was a violation of our safe space’. Similarly, attempts to prevent controversialists like Germaine Greer and Julie Bindel for the same reason.

    @ Ben,
    An interesting article, but do you really think that the mis- application of new terms on some occasions that is driving ‘progressive’ people away from supporting the Liberal Democrats? I think there might be more potent reasons for this.

  • Jayne Mansfield,

    ‘Mansplain’ contains the word ‘man’. It is a gendered term that links a person’s behaviour to their gender as if their gender has something to do with their behaviour. It is a sexist word.

  • “If a particular man thinks that the term has been misapplied to him personally, it is up to him to challenge the judgement made against him and give reasons why.”

    A gender-based slur is a pejorative aimed at 50% of the population, not just the person being accused of ‘mansplaining’

  • Barry Snelson 18th Nov '16 - 12:13pm

    Your posts are always interesting so I thought I would offer my impressions.
    The push back on mansplaining is because it rather implies that women are incapable of being patronising, repetitive and boring and this is a purely male flaw.
    Er….. maybe.
    The ‘safe space’ theme is worrying.
    If one personally, doesn’t want to listen to Germaine Greer then watch TV or walk the dog. But to effectively use blackmail to prevent anyone else hearing her thoughts is something much more questionable.
    I agree that there are more substantive reasons for the current sidelining of progressive politics but, and I may be a reactionary old git, but it does feed an image of a political movement that enjoys “victimhood ” status and is loves new reasons to feel persecuted.
    Meanwhile, the non progressive right just talks to the masses in language they understand and with ideas that may be illusory, but at least sound sensible.
    On the old git theme, I hope no man has actually shared his experience of prostate cancer. That would be letting the side down.

  • So way off topic now but as I don’t think anyone else is still posing here, I guess this isn’t derailing.
    Jayne Mansfield
    “professional of any gender, paediatricians, midwives health visitors etc., now believes that it is their duty to share the best current evidence so that mothers can make an INFORMED choice”
    Interestingly I have only ever encountered Consultant Paediatricians willing to say ‘actually it is ok to stop’ and set the research in context pointing out what benefits will have been achieved by what amount of breastfeeding not just the very basic parrot advice, and I’m not suggesting at midwives and helth visitors don’t think they are doing what is best.
    In cases where there are reasons for the consultant to suggest that stopping is the best course of action, mothers still get that judgemental roll of the eyes, and slight sigh from certain quarters. Bringing it back to my point, often mum by that point is too tired and drained to defend herself (even when at other stages in life they would give someone both barrels) but still feel further worn down by it. In these circumstances (if she is not alone) normally only family members would be there and have the energy to defend her from the low level judgement, so ti is Dad, Grandma, Granddad, Aunties, Uncles, Great Aunt… etc. now half of that population is harder to use the “you can’t understand” (or an equivalent less direct) argument, the other half are more inclined to hear it.
    I’m was trying to avoid straying too far in to the issues in certain medical fields, and point out certain behaviour can be seen when male relatives are defending the choice (or sometimes medically required change) from third parties judgement. The point being, the behaviour exists.

    “The alternative to sharing this information, is to say nothing”
    Who said anything about saying nothing? What I have concerns about is providing the detail not just a standardised mantra.

    “Post Natal depression is a very serious matter and more research is needed, one should not simply assume the triggers”
    I don’t, I do point out that adding to pressure on new mums increases risk factors.

  • Jayne Mansfeild
    “Anecdote. I believe that violence when prefixed with the cosy term ‘domestic’, is in need of an overhaul. Given that two women every week in England and Wales are killed by a partner or ex partner”
    The two women a week number isn’t an anecdote, it’s a misleading statistic. Two people a week die from IPV each fortnight on average three will be women one will be a man.

    “Each woman’s experience of this type of violence is unique”
    I notice you don’t mention the 40% of intimate partner abuse suffers who are men, I’m not sure if this is because you think all men who are victims of abuse have the same experience or if there was a different reason to exclude 40% of the victims.
    What worries me the most is that this is an area I have only stumbled across in recent years and is not particularly interesting to me so I don’t spend much time on but I still find myself correcting people on LDV using stats that are misleading. Suggesting many of the high profile sources present very skewed figures and mislead those who look for a statistic.

    “they are related to issues of power and control.”
    I’ve seen this asserted and assumed but never actually justified, perhaps it is but I’m not convinced given the pattern over time against other factors.

  • Jayne Mansfield 18th Nov '16 - 5:52pm

    @ Barry Snelson,
    Of course some women can be patronising to men. I think the person whom they are trying to patronise should pull them up on it. And that it the point, people should not just shrug their shoulders and let something objectionable pass.

    The difference between patronising behaviour when it is from a man to a woman, is that the behaviour takes place in a context where men still dominate and this act is viewed as another way of keeping the woman in her place.

  • Jayne Mansfield 18th Nov '16 - 6:51pm

    @ Psi,
    May I suggest you look up the advice given by paediatricians by tapping into

    ‘ Royal College of Physicians. Breast feeding’.

    Mind provide information of Post Natal Depression online for the general public. Just look up,

    Mind Postnatal and perinatal mental health’

    I’m not sure that there is any benefit to be gained for us continuing this discussion. On every subject, whether it was breast feeding in Parliament where you disagreed with me on the the need to follow WHO advice on duration of breast feeding, because you believed it unnecessary in this country. anonymity for men charged with rape etc., we cannot find any basis for agreement.

    I believe in equality between men and women which means that I am as concerned for the wellbeing of men as I am of women.

  • Ruth Bright 18th Nov '16 - 8:31pm

    Psi sorry to go all anecdotal here but having breastfed one baby for three days and the other baby for three years I can assure you that most of the eye rolling occurred for breastfeeding too long not giving up too early.

  • Thanks for mansplaining what “mansplain” means to all the women reading this; I’m sure they had no idea and are deeply grateful to you for telling them what their experience is really like.

  • Jayne Mansfield

    “I acknowledge that research is not value free, but where it exists it is the best tool we have to beat value laden opinion that is unsupported by evidence.”

    The point I was trying to make is not that research has no value, quite the opposite, proper research looking across populations is required and an anecdotal response is significantly worse (and ends in policy making by Daily Mail Headline).

    I made the point further up that in addition to this we have to avoid assuming everything coming from academia is valid or correct just for that reason, the majority of the work is valuable but there is a lot of nonsense too. Many of the ideas that are at the heart of bad policy making can normally be spotted if people go through the original research, but that takes significant time.

    On the terms “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” these have a use in therapeutic context from where they were “appropriated” and it really devalues what the purpose is. I can’t see anyone being able to justify abusing these terms in a way that results in people defending the treatment of Greer, Bindel, Tatchell or Yiannopoulos but particularly the intimidatory tactics against Maryam Namazie at Goldsmiths (I was unaware that there was also an incident at Warwick as well).

  • Ruth
    Well as it is your anecdotal I wouldn’t want to presume but I imagine the eye rolling wasn’t from medical professionals or support services in the really early months when things were most pressurised? Though I wouldn’t rule out them coming from LibDems?

  • *anecdote not anecdotal

  • David-1
    It helps to say who a comment was addressed to. As the last male user name was 6 comments earlier, followed by two comments from a gender neutral user name follows by three from female user names. Thanks

  • I do not need to specify to whom I am responding when so many people can aptly take the criticism to heart.

    The fact is that, for all its vaunted devotion to liberty, the Lib Dems include many members who are profoundly hostile to equality of the sexes. Liberal Democrat women are expected to be quietly supportive while the men talk, and if a woman raises her voice she is quickly put ‘in her place’ and told in no uncertain terms that her concerns are not worth listening to. I have seen this again and again. I have seen women remark on it, and I have seen them again shut down by a preponderance of male voices. Until this problem is resolved, and until the men at fault adopt a more welcoming and progressive attitude (and all the complaining about ‘mansplaining’ is clearly regressive, for all that it’s — falsely — couched in a language of pretend anti-sexism) it will not be a party fit for the twenty-first century.

  • Jayne Mansfield 20th Nov '16 - 10:07am

    @ Psi,
    Please let me assure you that research used to change medical practice is the best peer- reviewed research available. at a given time.

    When I referred to value judgments in relation to research, I was acknowledging that research is a human activity. It takes place within a particular social context. This means that factors such as the motivation for conducting a particular, the methodology chosen etc., are not free of values, no more.

    Research that underpins changes in healthcare has to be good research. Trusts pay millions in negligence claims. Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts ( CNST) , membership and discounts require that risk management rules are in place. Theses includes multi- disciplinary evidence -based guidelines and policies. In the case of maternity services, they would be agreed and signed off by a team comprising a senior Paediatrician, Obstetrician Anaesthetist and Midwife. The days when practice was based on personal experience, custom and habit are gone,and with it the conflicting advice that caused stress to patients.

    Research into breast feeding that has led to the ‘Breast is best brigade’ , ( who do you mean by this), reflects, to the best of my knowledge that of professionals.

    I repeat, it is the role of the professional to provide the best available information and support a woman’s choice

    Research is always ongoing and this includes not only the method of feeding, but also the duration as a factor in the protection against certain later diseases. Data bases exist where world wide studies can be accessed and worldwide, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women.Research informs us of some of the reproductive factors that affect the development of it. Breast feeding is a protective factor.

    Providing women with the best information on which to make choices does not undermine their autonomy, it enhances it. As a woman, I fail to see the problem.

  • Jayne Mansfield 20th Nov '16 - 10:10am

    Apologies for grammatical errors . Also the final sentence in paragraph 2 should have course say, particular topic.

  • @David-1

    I’m responding to you.

    I spend my life continually questioning whether or not I am being condescending to anyone despite having been spoken to in a condescending manner in a professional capacity by no end of people. The people who have spoken to me in such a manner are both male and female and I would say that most of those occasions have been one-offs rather than a pattern of behaviour by an individual. We are all capable of not being fully aware on our own limitations of knowledge of a subject and underestimating another persons experience, regardless of gender. I am also scrupulously conspicuous, when interacting with any female colleague, of making sure that I treat them with the same respect and attitude as I would with anyone else. I would be mortified if I accidently said something that could be construed as sexist. You clearly don’t have the same concerns, given your defence of the word ‘mansplaining’

    When you describe as ‘regressive’ the criticism of the us of ‘mansplaining’ you are not only ignoring the evidence of the unacceptability of the expression inherent in its derivation but also making a sexist judgement about those of us that find it so offensive.

    I would argue that I am not the one being regressive here.

  • Jayne Mansfield 20th Nov '16 - 10:58am

    @ David -1,
    In my view, in many ways, confronting and facing down misogyny has become harder. I expect that the same is true of racism and homophobia.

    In my youth, people were open when they expressed attitudes that are no longer considered respectable. Today, the way these attitudes are expressed and the forms that they take are more subtle and therefore more difficult to challenge. They are wrapped up in such a way, that when an individual detects these attitudes in behaviour one receives, it is brushed off as ‘just perception’, thus undermining the person’s confidence to challenge the behaviour.

    This is just an opinion.

  • One thing is for sure, the level of reaction proves this is a hot potato, and even if we struggle to agree on what is a problem, and what potential solutions may be relevant, we can’t sweep it under the carpet. And apologies for the use of what I hope is non-controversial jargon.

    The thing with jargon is that it can be very convenient, but it isn’t always useful. The problem is that the convenience means it’s easy to adopt within certain circles and not even notice how insular we’ve become.

    And at risk of being off-topic, @Psi, my mother is a retired health visitor, and I know her attitudes and approach to encouraging breast-feeding. I find your anecdote that only consultant paediatricians get it right to be incorrect, and insulting to a huge group of professionals (not all of whom are women). This isn’t the right place to discuss the pros and cons of attitudes and understanding of breast-feeding, but needless to say it’s very complex and sweeping statements are unhelpful.

  • Richard Underhill 20th Nov '16 - 12:58pm

    Imagine someone being endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan AND getting elected (admittedly indirectly).

  • I mean, you can’t stop people from endorsing you, but it is a bit of a red flag.

    That said, how many people voted BREXIT because the banks (who are all evil and to blame for everything) said that Britain would be better in the EU? However, banks aren’t a single issue political movement, and there really isn’t any way of misrepresenting the significance of the endorsement of a group that exists soley to promote white supremacy.

  • Not sure why the filters caught this last night.
    Jayne Mansfield (18th Nov ’16 – 6:51pm)
    “I suggest you look up the advice given by paediatricians”
    I have just checked and there is nothing new among the generalised advice from the recent times I have looked.

    “I believe in equality between men and women which means that I am as concerned for the wellbeing of men as I am of women.”
    Not quite sure what point you are addressing here? If you are assuming I have interpreted your various points as a gender bias, I would just point out that if I were to be assuming a bias (which I don’t think I would have enough information to do from a few internet comment exchanges) your comments would more likely indicate a modal group preference not a gender one.

  • This as well.
    Jayne Mansfield (18th Nov ’16 – 6:51pm)
    “I’m not sure that there is any benefit to be gained for us continuing this discussion. On every subject, […] we cannot find any basis for agreement.”
    Given the main point was lost so quickly and the examples fixated on perhaps further discussion is not necessary.
    For clarity though, as you chose to represent my views I think it is more transparent to link those discussions:
    “breast feeding in Parliament” (where you appear to have made assumptions from a sentence):
    “anonymity for men charged with rape” No. Anonymity of any persons charged with sexual offences (why is this becoming gendered now?):
    I couldn’t see what this particular point was bringing to the discussion, as it seems even further far off topic given where we are.

  • Jayne Mansfield 20th Nov '16 - 10:23pm

    ‘Paediatricians are part of the ‘breast is best brigade’ that you refer to.

    I mentioned that I that I believed in equality between men and women because you seemed to question why I made no reference to male ‘domestic violence’, statistics. There is nothing sinister about that. I have more direct knowledge and personal experience of female domestic abuse victims.

    I haven’t a clue what modal group preferences are , and I have never felt that my life was missing something important as a consequence. I do not take any of your comments personally.

    My concern is for other women who do not have the confidence to fight for the right not to be patronised.

    @ Stephanie,
    I apologise for not responding to your post earlier, I got diverted into responding to issues which are of real importance to women, their health and their well being.

    When I traced the origin of the word Mansplain which is new to me, I found that the fundamentals of the word could be traced to Rebecca Solnit in her essay ‘Men explain things to me’. The definition she gave was quite straightforward, it was when a man condescendingly lectures a woman on the basics of a topic on which he knows very little, under the assumption that she knows even less. If some misuse the term, by inappropriately using it for something other than a useful description of modern gender dynamics, it does not mean that the term has no merit.

    I would be more concerned about the continued use of the pronoun ‘he’, to cover the male and female gender, especially when it is used in important areas such as the law.

    I have found this whole discussion tedious, especially when according to a MSF communication on my facebook, the last specialist paediatric specialist hospital in East Aleppo has been bombed, and children who had no choice in the matter of whether to leave during the ceasefire are now trapped in a situation that no child should have to experience.

    All I can say is, If the cap fits, wear it.

  • Jayne Mansfield (20th Nov ’16 – 10:07am)
    For clarity, when I mentioned the lots of rubbish that is generated by academia I don’t consider Medical research to be an area of concern, there are other areas pumping out nonsense. Where I do see errors in the science side of medical research they tend to be legitimate errors and identified (even if sometimes not quite when they should have been). When I’m talking about “advocacy research” I’m not particularly talking about medicine.
    “it is the role of the professional to provide the best available information and support a woman’s choice”
    I would agree, though I would point out the purpose of a professional is that they are someone who can actually advise according to the circumstances and not just repeat a message that was devised for the majority and doesn’t cater to those out of the norm. The issue of “support a woman’s choice” is particularly important as that is one area where when the focus is too much on what is the generic response that is definitely not what is needed advice should not just be “here is the generic” and if you must know here is some extra stuff (and yes Fiona “#NotAll” sometimes the more experienced are less cowed by the latest initiative).
    You ask who I mean by: “Breast is best brigade”
    I mean those who go beyond the ‘the best advice is…’ and behave in an ideological manner.
    There was some research a few years back finding a third of women who bottle fed felt guilty and a quarter were concerned about what the health visitor or midwife would say. That is a significant minority of patients that should be a concern. The concern about the opinion of support workers suggests that the message delivered is not as positive as people would like to believe. Just ramming home a mantra over and over you sets a culture where the assumptions are skewed rather than the focus being (as it should be) on just doing the best for the patient.

  • David-1

    “I do not need to specify to whom I am responding when so many people can aptly take the criticism to heart.”

    Well I’ll do a quick check to your original claim:

    “grateful to you for telling them what their experience is really like”

    Search: “your experience” Results: 0
    Search: “womens’ experience” Results: 0
    Search: “womens experience” Results: 0
    Search: “women’s experience” Results: 0

    In the absence of any specifics I’ll just revert to the basic position:
    Asserted without evidence, dismissed without evidence.

  • Jayne Mansfield

    Modal group preferences – Just a preference to focus on the largest group in a population rather than the whole population. (Again for the sake of clarity I’m not claiming it is the case here) It can create an issue because people can have a skew on perception by only focusing on one part of the issue. People sometimes see that and assume a prejudice (that does not exist), they are assuming motive that is not there.

    Bearing this in mind I would point out that you also have expressed comfort with the term “mansplaining” (taking others definition of this not mine) and when you referred to “confronting and facing down misogyny” both of these require you to make assumptions about someone’s motivation. As I pointed out above the original story told by Rebecca Solnit could be seen by an outsider as being the result of a number of motivations (socially inept conversation technique, assumptions based upon factor like age [“oldsplaining” anyone – I hope not], just being patronizing to everyone, etc.) but an attitude to her as a woman is assumed.

    Above when an issue had a “victim category” (domestic violence, being patronizing due to gender, weaponising safe spaces) the victims were all women, when there was no necessity for that categorization. When you discussed a situation with a “perpetrator category” (the previously ungendered sexual offenses discussion) the accused were male. My position is that there are plenty of reasons you could have had to make those assumptions in your comments, so I prefer the charitable interpretation of making no assumption of these comments saying anything about you. An uncharitable interpretation could make lots of wild assumptions about you, which I would consider unfair. So I would ask if you would want to take the uncharitable position towards others when interpreting their actions?

    We are living in a time when people seem to have really polarized and automatically assume the worst of others, I find it difficult to understand anyone wanting (when looking to have productive discussion) to either crate more times when people assume the worst of others or popularize language which is not intended to clearly communicate a position and antagonize. (I don’t mind when people are clearly joking bit this is not normally the case),

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    Correction: Michael BG's important article on how deep poverty could be ended by 2029 was of course posted here in October 2023, not 2013; the reference I gave ...
  • David LG
    Bit worried that Angus MacDonald openly identifies himself as economically right wing on the highland lib dems website, how's that going to go down in such a po...
  • Simon R
    I agree with @Peter Martin. This idea from the Tories is laughably unworkable. It's obviously an election gimmick that hasn't been at all thought through. I al...