Political Reporter Marin Cogan On How Mitt Romney’s A Mansplainer

Have you ever dated a mansplainer? You know, one of those dudes who feels the need to tell you exactly how the world works by spouting off incredibly obvious information. According to Urban Dictionary, mansplaining is simply: “To explain in a patronizing manner, assuming total ignorance on the part of those listening. The mansplainer is often shocked and hurt when their mansplanation is not taken as absolute fact, criticized or even rejected altogether.”

So yes, you’ve met/dated/dumped one, right?

Of course, men aren’t solely the ones guilty of this, but it does seem to be a behavior men exhibit in order to “communicate” with women. And, says Marin Cogan, political correspondent for GQ, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is definitely guilty of mansplaining. Speaking of Mitt’s overall strategy, notes Cogan, “[Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan] will spend the fall trying to mansplain their way to the White House, shunning the charisma-based campaign Obama tried in 2008 in favor of right-sounding if vague platitudes about getting the economy back on track: What we need to do is get government out of the way so the private sector can create jobs! Get rid of the bureaucratic red tape, end the uncertainty! Stop the spending!”

But doesn’t mansplaining kind of, sort of work sometimes? Why else would the mansplainer continue to mansplain things? It’s got to get the job done, right? Well, says Cogan, it depends on who the mansplainer is mansplaining to (sorry, I just love that word). Cogan says that the mansplaining tone really resonates with some women, while other — usually younger — women will balk.

I think there’s a generational divide. Among young women, it’d be a net negative–after all, can you imagine committing yourself to four to eight years with a mansplainer? On the other hand, it seems like mansplaining was tolerated, maybe even desired, in our mother’s generation. How many of us have fathers, uncles, bosses, and elected representatives who are unrepentant mansplainers? I bet the impact would be neutral on that demographic.

And that’s why the mansplaining technique resonates with some younger women — it reminds us of being talked down to by our older male relatives, teachers and employers.

But Cogan warns that mansplaining alone won’t define how women receive the Romney/Ryan candidacy. “This election isn’t going to happen in a vacuum. Every woman with a hint of political awareness is going to know about Romney/Ryan’s position on abortion, and I’m willing to bet their reaction to that will play a much, much stronger role in determining who they vote for.” [GQ]