I am a math grad student, who was recently accused of mansplaining by a female grad student. As I tend to be left leaning, this caught me by surprise. This question is an attempt to perhaps learn more about the term.

I was in a group of two men and two women at an ice cream parlor. Three of us were math grad students, and the fourth was not. We'll name them Man A, Man B (me), Woman A (the one who accused me of mansplaining) and Woman B (the non math grad student). Woman B asked a question about why math is useful. Man A (not me) started explaining about the uses of number theory in cryptography. I interrupted him at one point, and continued the explanation. Woman A laughed, and said that all that we had said was incorrect, and that it really has to do with elliptic curves, etc. I said that I could be wrong, but I had gotten my explanation from a youtube video. She smiled and ignored us.

I then invited Woman A to explain about elliptic curves. She did not respond, and kept smiling at her phone. Later, she accused me of mansplaining. Something to remember: Woman A is doing her PhD in number theory. Man A and I were not. We taken some courses though, and perhaps held an amateurish interest in it.

I did not exactly know what mansplaining was, so I looked it up. Google said that it was the act of explaining something to a woman in a condescending fashion. I messaged her, saying that as I was not explaining anything to her, how could I be mansplaining. She said that I was mansplaining, as I did not invite her to explain about number theory, as she was the expert in it, and I was not.

My view:

  1. I had not started the explanation about number theory. Man A had. It was perhaps his prerogative to invite her to explain about number theory. However, it seemed that he got almost none of the heat. The accusations seemed directed at me, and she said "yes he was mansplaining too" only when I reminded her of his role. We have had strained relations in the past, but it would perhaps be futile to hypothesize whether that contributed to this accusation.

  2. I did invite her to explain about elliptic curves when she disagreed with us, but she did not.

  3. We started arguing about whether I was indeed mansplaining. Woman B (the non math mathematician) also said she didn't think it was mansplaining. But Woman A said that it didn't matter what she or I thought, the "classy" move would have been for me to apologize right away.

My questions are:

  1. Was I mansplaining?

  2. As a man, is it wrong of me to argue if a woman accuses me of mansplaining?

  • 7
    I think this is off topic here. Try it at interpersonal.stackexchange.com instead. – Buffy Jul 9 '19 at 14:21
  • 3
    @Buffy- This is about social conduct in an academic setting. Perhaps it is also relevant here? – fierydemon Jul 9 '19 at 14:21
  • 16
    Whether it's mansplaining or not, you might question why you are so anxious for total strangers to validate you as being "right" here. – Kathy Jul 9 '19 at 14:22
  • 8
    @fierydemon Just avoid her from now on, there are many other people to associate with. You don't need the grief... – Solar Mike Jul 9 '19 at 14:26
  • 2
    Don’t blow this out of proportion, every man mansplains sometimes. Don’t worry so much about whether you were right, but instead whether there’s something you can learn. In the future try to be aware about whether you’re talking about a subject you don’t know well (number theory), when a woman who is an expert is in the conversation. But mostly just don’t be so defensive, your reaction sounds much worse than the original situation. – Noah Snyder Jul 9 '19 at 15:16

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.