Living as a female in this short life of thirty years, boys and men alike have always been happy to explain to me things they determined weren’t clear to me. I never even need to ask a question for this to happen. They just look at my confused lady face and save me from my limited reasoning brain with all of their expert opinions. Expert because they are male and therefore they know things, obviously.
Sarcasm aside, this tendency for men to be patronizing and overly explain issues to women, ‘mansplaining’, has gotten so much worse the older I’ve grown. It is also more annoying, especially in professional spaces.
I own a restaurant. Something about this makes numerous older male clients want to offer free consultancy to me on how to best run the business. So far, none of the ones who’ve accosted me with these services have any experience in the industry. Case in point, a couple of weeks ago. Four middle-aged men had come by the restaurant for dinner. I guess they noticed me being a busy body around the place and figured I was in charge in some way, and proceeded to call me over to their table.
'We’re regular customers here and had some advice we wanted you to pass on to the owners,' one of them said.
They weren’t regulars but that’s not the point.
'I am the owner.' I said, smiling my sweetest service industry smile.
'REALLY! A young girl like you!'
They laughed amongst themselves and went on to make many unnecessary remarks about my age and looks. As it’s my job as a good respectful ‘girl’ I stood and smiled. Both because these were clients and I didn’t want to lose their business, but also because it isn’t expected of me to roll my eyes and call out strange men in their late fifties for being disrespectful. I didn’t want to be known as the bitchy woman who didn’t treat her customers well.
When I tell you that they then proceeded to talk to me for forty-five minutes, explaining things I needed to change about the restaurant business! From our menu, to décor to other minute details that they could not possibly know anything about as it varies in each business and they hadn’t bothered to ask for any context of my business from me. It wasn’t a dialogue; they took turns to talk at me.
The condescending tones and non-stop repetition of the same points aside was driving me crazy. If they at least had some helpful feedback I could take on, it may have been ok. But they were actually giving terrible advice. On issues we had already tested, seen fail and adapted new solutions for. You could see though that in spite of the fact that I was successfully running this operation, they immediately dismissed any of my responses and critiques.
That scenario has played out countless times in the two years the restaurant has been in operation. I find it very hard to believe that it would be as frequent, if ever at all, if I were a man. It seems in our society that by virtue of having a penis, your reasoning capabilities are doubled and your decisions not questioned.
In my next life I am coming back as a man and I will own a restaurant. If ever any males bombard me with bad unsolicited advice, I will look them in the eye and smile my sweetest service industry smile and ask them to shut up. That’s all.