When the writer of Men in Black overheard two women talking about the film, he thought he should share his two cents. The women, however, disagreed.
The world of Twitter has delivered once again with a viral story that is bizarre, funny and (as with many of our favourite threads) has a feminist twist. But this time, probably not in the way you think.
The word mansplaining has attracted a lot of attention on social media in the last few years, and we’ve relished in covering the various conversations around it, usually from the perspective of a woman who has been patronised by a man who knows little to nothing about the topic he’s claiming to be an expert on.
For example, there was the actually pregnant woman who was told by a Starbucks barista that she shouldn’t be drinking coffee (the NHS website states that pregnant women can safely have two coffees a day and we doubt he’d ever birthed a tiny human). Or how about the man who tried to explain vaginas to a female gynaecologist? The mind really does boggle.
However today we’re presenting you, dear reader, with a more positive tale. This time of a man who actually was an expert in his field, but after disturbing a conversation between two women, gave the perfect response to being accused of mansplaining. That is, to take it and leave them to their day.
Film writer Ed Soloman took to Twitter earlier this week to regale his followers with a scene that had occurred that day at a café where he was working.
He described how two women sitting on a table nearby were talking about the film Men in Black (which Soloman was part of the writing team for), and discussing their theories on the origin of the story.
Considering himself as having a unique perspective on the film thanks to having worked on it, he says he leaned over and told the women that he thought he could help them with their debate and “clear that up for you.”
In response to this one of the women said: “I’m sorry, we do not need an old white male’s mansplanation,” clearly not appreciating the input of a random person with no immediate relevance to her conversation with her friend.
This situation is relatively unique because Soloman actually wouldn’t have been mansplaining. Having written the script for the film in question, he’s probably one of the most qualified people on the planet to confirm its origins.
But what he did do was interrupt a conversation he wasn’t invited into, presuming that his voice deserved to be heard and that his opinion would be welcome. It’s this sense of entitlement which is at the heart of mansplaining, and therefore it makes total sense that the women found his interruption rude and uncalled for.
Soloman had two options: he could have continued to bleat at the women about his right to comment on the film, told them about his involvement in it and attempted to validate his interruption. But instead, we have to say, he took it rather well.
Soloman explains that he first apologised to the women, and then went back to his work and continued to mind his own business. Then, later on when he passed their table, one of the women apologised for her friend calling him “old” and not only did he say “no worries, no need to apologise” but he commented on how good the word mansplaining actually is.
Calling all men: if you’ve been accused of mansplaining it’s probably because there is at least some aspect of your behaviour that has been inappropriate. Instead of instantly becoming defensive, reflect on why this might be.
Soloman is a pretty brilliant example of this, not only did he react calmly and seemed to internalise why he might have been called out, but he was also able to reflect on how needed the word mansplaining is.
What’s even better? Since Soloman’s thread went viral, the unnamed woman has reached out to him and the two have ended their correspondence on good terms.
Writing in final tweet, Soloman says: “SHE WROTE TO ME! She saw this thread on Reddit and realised it was her and she reached out! Oh my god it was so sweet. And she really made me laugh at the end cause she said basically ‘PS which one of us was right, me or my friend?’ (About their disagreement) (it was her).”
We love that this is an example of how by listening, men can successfully take a step back and understand the perspective of a woman and in the end, create something really positive.