Mansplaining: The Struggles of an Indigenous Woman Scholar
By: Danielle Lucero
Tribal affiliation: Pueblo of Isleta
Ph.D. candidate Justice Studies
As an Indigenous woman, pursuing higher education is a daunting task. Dealing with feelings of homesickness, guilt and imposter syndrome are only the tip of the iceberg for many Indigenous women pursuing a degree. An often under-discussed struggle many women face, especially women of color, is the misogynistic and patriarchal micro and macro aggressions made by men. The treatment and dismissive attitude women face in higher education can be a challenge to navigate and even more tough to call attention to.
As a Pueblo woman, I’ve struggled with figuring out why certain phrases like “You’re pretty smart for a girl” or “Don’t worry, you’ll find a husband someday” made me deeply uncomfortable. They caused me to question if I was imagining these little jabs at my womanhood by my male counterparts. After talking with other women of color, I learned that many of these instances of misogynistic treatment were in fact harmful and there were techniques that I could use.
For our character Febe, mansplaining is something she struggles with greatly. Learning how to interrupt a man when he’s mansplaining her dissertation research or her area of expertise is something that takes practice. Mansplaining seems minor, but it builds up over time and can lead to feelings of insecurity and self-doubt about your knowledge and ideas. Simply put, mansplaining is the act of a man explaining to a woman something she already knows, is common sense, or she already mentioned earlier. In this issue’s comic, Febe offers some tips on how to deal with mansplainers that is rooted in her Indigenous auntie upbringing!
Comic Image description:
Panel 1: What I think is important to understand…
Panel 2: LET ME EXPLAIN…
Panel 3: Here we have a classic example of mansplaining. There are many types of mansplainers and it can be hard to realize when it’s happening! Luckily, Febe has had wonderful Indigenous women mentors that have helped her cultivate two techniques for dealing with a mansplainer!
Panel 4: Approach #1: Once the mansplaining starts, look the person straight in the eyes and give your best Auntie glare. Imagine this person just took the last piece of frybread and didn’t even offer to split it with you, or if they said, “Your clan isn’t even that traditional.” Yeah, that glare– you know the one!
Panel 5: Approach #2: Try to find a natural break in his sentence or just interrupt mid-sentence if you have to. Depending on who the person is, use one of these phrases:
Boss/Supervisor: “Thank you. I’ll be addressing questions and comments at the end.”
Good friend: “I’d love to hear your opinion after I finish expressing mine.”
Random person you just met: “Thanks for that.” (Some people just aren’t worth your energy.)
Panel 6: Gah, you sure like to explain things to me and I didn’t even ask you a question.