I experienced mansplaining today. It was painful. And very discomforting. It was unconscious, and humorous. But it left a dent. And a bad taste. Even though it was acknowledged at a later point in the day, it does not make it better. Having said that, I certainly have a very high degree of respect for the person who observed and acknowledged it.
I have never experienced this phenomenon before. And I have always applauded my peer groups and leaders for that. But I am happy I went through it, because now I know how it feels. It feels very belittling. It also makes you question yourself. Despite the fact that you might have been right in the first place. You question your self – did I understand the statement right? Was I distracted by events in my personal life? Did I choose the right words to express my opinion? And that is an energy drain. I didn’t need another energy drain today.
I now know why women experience fear in speaking up in meetings. I won’t be one of those women. But if even I am afraid of “accidentally screwing up” the next time I am with this audience. I don’t know how a slightly weaker personality might deal with it.
It is tormenting to the extent that I have forgotten the details of the dialogue, but the laughter of the room rings in my ears. And now I will be blamed for over reacting. Or seeing it from the wrong lens. But this is how I feel. And Maya Angelou was right, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This is really not about me, and the situation I faced. Or how I felt. My emotions are running bare for all those millions of women who are not like me. Who will not write it, and let it out. Who will question themselves for the rest of the week or life. Those who don’t even raise their voice to begin with, because of the fear of being subjected to this behavior. I feel for them. For the very first time in my life, I feel a certain kinship with them. If I could not stand my ground today, so many never will.
There is another argument – may be this has nothing to do with my gender. May be it was a something stupid I said. May be! But that’s not how I felt. And again, I can change the way I feel now. But I cannot change the dent that incident made on me at that time. So no matter how I rationalize it. It is one for the keeps. I mean how did I survive in this industry so long, without being mansplained to. Who do I think I am?
Anyways – for all that this week has thrown at us, this ranks way too low in my list of priorities. But it was hurtful. And I am still questioning myself if it hurt, because I am in a vulnerable place these days. Or if it was just another week, would I even bother. I also wonder if a man would ever spend so much energy on decomposing the why of something.
Anyways – I am running with a lot of emotions up on my sleeves this week, and the world around me is a crumbled mess at this point. I will forgive myself this mistake. Pardon me, for I might have fumbled!
Sigh! again, apologizing! Being a woman can be such a curse sometimes.