Women who have things mansplained to them in the workplace can now report it to a dedicated hotline.
Unionen, Sweden’s largest union, is encouraging members to call up when male colleagues give them unsolicited lectures on things they already understand.
The organisation, which represents 600,000 private sector workers, launched the advice line on Monday and said it will be open from 10am to 4pm everyday for a week as part of a campaign to highlight and stamp out the insidious and damaging practice.
For those who might not be familiar with the modern portmanteau, the union defined mansplaining as when “a man explains something to a woman without being asked, particularly something which she might already know more about than the man”.
Unionen said the commonplace practice diminishes women, by making them appear less competent than they are.
A study by the American Psychological Association found that men "tend to overestimate their intelligence to a much greater extent than women" and showed that "self-assurance in men grows with age".
Unionen said the phone line, which will be staffed by a gender expert and a group of feminist politicians, comedians and scientists, is “about equality”.
“It is about putting your finger on the small everyday problems which become large when they stack up.”
When left unchecked, mansplaining can contribute to men earning more than women, and being promoted faster, the organisation said – “something most of us, regardless of sex, think is unfair and want to change”.
The hotline will advise upset and frustrated callers on what action they should take next, and aims to help them move on. But there are no set answers, instead the people staffing the line will have the freedom to say what they want, based on their own experiences.
Unsurprisingly, the initiative unleashed a flood of negative comments on Unionen's Facebook page, particularly from men.
"How would women react if you used words like 'old biddy chat' or 'female whining'? Equality can't be won using negative invective, but should be built using mutual respect and partnership. But maybe I'm the only one who thinks so," Daniel Bergman of Sundsvall wrote on their Facebook page.
Others, such as Jim Brännlund from Stockholm, were even blunter.
"Just what we need in society, more polarisation. And people wonder why right-wing populism is on the rise. You. Are. Retarded," he wrote.
Others defended the campaign, however. Linda Landgren wrote:
"Good initiative. Judging by the comments, it seems quite a lot of men feel this is aimed at them, so it shows how much this kind of work is needed."
Some said that while they would support a campaign against sexist behaviour, they thought that the references to mansplaining should be removed.
"Change the name of the event, 'Mansplaining' is incredibly sexist," Fanny Uppenberg said.
But Unionen said it was important to look at historical, structural inequality in society.
"The campaign is not intended to single out or add debt to all men," the organisation said in a statement. "The campaign aims to raise awareness among all of us, regardless of gender, about this phenomenon and hopefully begin a joint change. Everyone benefits that we visualise suppression techniques and talk about them."
It added: "There is a structural problem built into the concept mansplaining that can not be ignored. The Union shares the analysis that mansplaining is more often performed by men and we believe it is important to talk about the problem on the basis of the analysis for us to bring about change."
Unionen's gender expert Peter Tai Christensen elaborated on this explanation.
“We all react differently to changes in society. Some of us develop and integrate while others of us consciously or unconsciously resists," he said, in a statement. "Mansplaining can be interpreted as a reaction to the fact that traditional gender roles are being renegotiated.
The actresses fighting against sexism in Hollywood
The actresses fighting against sexism in Hollywood
1/12 Anne Hathaway
The 32-year-old actress said she has already experiences job rejections because of her age. “Now I'm in my early thirties and I'm like, 'Why did that 24-year-old get that part? I was that 24-year-old once. I can't be upset about it, it's the way things are,” she told Glamour.
2/12 Helen Mirren
On news that Maggie Gyllenhaal had been turned down for being ‘too old’, aged 37, to play a 55-year-old man’s partner: “It’s f***ing outrageous. It’s ridiculous. Honestly, it’s so annoying. And ’twas ever thus. We all watched James Bond as he got more and more geriatric, and his girlfriends got younger and younger. It’s so annoying.”
3/12 Maggie Gyllenhaal
Gyllenhaal revealed she was told by a Hollywood producer that she was too old, aged 37, to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man. “It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made feel angry, and then it made me laugh,” she said at the time.
4/12 Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep has helped fund an all-female screenwriters group called The Writer’s Lab to encourage more women to pen Hollywood scripts. She previously told Vogue in 2011: “Once women pass childbearing age they could only be seen as grotesque on some level.”
5/12 Emma Thompson
The actress said she thought Hollywood is “still completely s***” when it comes to treating women equally to men. ““When I was younger, I really did think we were on our way to a better world. And when I look at it now, it is in a worse state than I have known it, particularly for women, and I find that very disturbing and sad.”
6/12 Elizabeth Banks
Banks said she was driven from acting to directing due to the lack of roles for older women in Hollywood. “"[Industry sexism] drove me to direct for sure. I definitely was feeling that I was unfulfilled and a little bit bored by the things that were coming across my desk. I mean look at Gwyneth Paltrow who has her Oscar [for Shakespeare in Love] and played fifth banana to Iron Man,” she told Deadline.
7/12 Viola Davis
“I had never seen a 49-year-old, dark-skinned woman who is not a size 2 be a sexualised role in TV or film. I'm a sexual woman, but nothing in my career has ever identified me as a sexualised woman. I was the prototype of the ‘mommified’ role,” she told The Hollywood Reporter.
8/12 Liv Tyler
The Lord of the Rings actress said she only get cast in roles where she is treated as a “second class citizen” at the age of 38. “When you’re in your teens or twenties, there is an abundance of ingenue parts which are exciting to play. But at [my age], you’re usually the wife or the girlfriend - a sort of second-class citizen. There are more interesting roles for women when they get a bit older,” she told More magazine.
9/12 Cate Blanchett
The actress famously called out sexism on the red carpet at the 2014 Screen Actors Guild Awards. When a camera operator scanned her up and down, she said: “Do you do this to the guys?” In her Oscar acceptance speech for Blue Jasmine, she reminded the film industry that movies with leading women can still be successful. “And thank you to... those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films, with women at the centre, are niche experiences. They are not -- audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people.”
10/12 Ellen Page
Asked if she had ever encountered sexism in Hollywood, Page told The Guardian: ‘Oh my God, yeah! It's constant! It's how you're treated, it's how you're looked at, how you're expected to look in a photoshoot, it's how you're expected to shut up and not have an opinion, it's how you... If you're a girl and you don't fit the very specific vision of what a girl should be, which is always from a man's perspective, then you're a little bit at a loss.”
11/12 Zoe Saldana
The actress says she refuses roles where she has to play the generic girlfriend, wife or sexy bombshell. "It's very hard being a woman in a man's world, and I recognised it was a man's world even when I was a kid. It's an inequality and injustice that drove me crazy, and which I always spoke out against — and I've always been outspoken,” she told Manhattan magazine.
12/12 Charlize Theron
The actress spoke to ELLE about negotiating equal pay for the Snow White and the Huntsman sequel: "This is a good time for us to bring this to a place of fairness, and girls need to know that being a feminist is a good thing. It doesn't mean that you hate men. It means equal rights. If you're doing the same job, you should be compensated and treated in the same way."
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
"Mansplaining is maneuvering, tricks and suppression techniques designed to put women in their place and thereby consolidate or restore a privileged position.”
He said whether it was intentional, a form of "misguided benevolence", or just a habit, " the problem is basically that women are assumed to be less knowing, competent, important, or legitimate".
"It is obviously not the case that all men expose women to mansplaining all the time. It would be an absurd assertion that lacks reality. But enough women are exposed to enough mansplaining for it to be a problem that needs to be highlighted, discussed and solved."Reuse content