A chimney sweep came to my house recently to clean the flues, but he didn’t just do the job and leave. Instead, he took half an hour to explain why I needed to replace my open-fired fireplace with a wood burner and what stoves would be best.
Perhaps you’re expecting to hear that I was irritated to have a man in my house proffering unsolicited advice, but I was thrilled. I was able to learn more about stoves, heating systems, and other topics than all the hours spent Googling.
Claire Foy does not agree with this view. In a recent interview, she complained about how friendly her work colleagues were and offered their assistance.
A Very British Scandal’s star was afflicted by the inability of two technicians to fit her TV. It’s a pity!
Katie Glass (pictured), believes that what women dismiss as mansplaining may actually be helpful advice. She rejects this because it is too sensitive about being patronized.
They ‘decided to give me a speech about how I was putting my TV — that I had paid for — in the wrong place,’ the 37-year-old actress wailed. She added: ‘I would never have presumed to tell a man, or anybody else, that they were wrong about where they were going to put their TV.’
Well, no. But then I don’t suppose they teach you much about aerial installation at drama college.
Foy had invited experts into her home. So why did she get angry at them when they tried helping? We are told that this is yet another problem in modern society: mansplaining.
It is a word I can’t stand. Like manspreading (men taking up extra room by sitting with their legs wide) or man-slamming (men’s alleged habit of barging past women on the street), it seems little more than a sexist, mean-spirited way to attack men.
What is sometimes referred to as “mansplaining” is, in my opinion, just helpful advice. Women who feel too sensitive about being perceived as patronized may reject it.
Too many people these days are afraid to ask for help from men. We want to be treated as equals, and I am sorry.
If such a gendered and dismissive word were used to undermine women’s help, we’d be furious. Actually, there is such a word — to nag — and if a man dared use it about me, I’d be apoplectic.
Therefore, the word mansplain would not be used by me. However, I have to admit that I like the help of men.
Katie claimed that while she does not seek advice that is obvious or unhelpful, men who offer help on topics she’s more familiar with are a great source of guidance (file photo).
To be clear, I don’t like being talked down to. Random non-experts trying to interfere with my life, such as telling me where to park.
But while I don’t need advice that is boorish, unhelpful or obvious foisted on me from an unskilled busybody, when men offer guidance on subjects they know more about, I’m extremely grateful.
My dream house was plagued by numerous problems including damp, woodworm and dodgy electricals. While some women, capable in practical matters and knowledgeable about DIY, might have rolled up their sleeves and got on with tackling this work themselves, instead I preferred to put the kettle on and ask every workman who came by for his help (although I’d have been as happy to hire women to do the work if any had been about).
I offer builders tea and biscuits, and then sit down to take notes.
Do you remember that every worker who visited my house gave me his advice? Many without asking?
Instead, I offered them tea and biscuits, while they sat down taking notes.
One builder came to my house to help with damp. He volunteered to take the time to explain the basics of the house to me. This included showing me where the pipes lead, how the boiler operates, and the location of the stopcock. This house could have been my home for over 20 years without me having to work any of it out.
A second person came by to install shelves for me. He pointed out that I was choosing a dangerous spot because of the cables behind it. I hadn’t even thought about this.
In fact, when I’d mentioned to a female friend that the wall was making weird sounds, she suggested it might be ghosts! And when another of my female friends stayed over, we spent the night shivering because we couldn’t work out how the thermostat might stop the heating coming on.
Katie said you can’t ask men for help, then get angry with them for offering more of it (file image)
To give you an example, I had a man friend stay with me when my flush stopped working. He showed how to fix it.
A recent visit to town saw me wondering how I could get my smart television to work. Then, hooray!, an enlisted man in the shop next to me told me about HDMI cables and where and how to use them. Did I feel insulted? Don’t be ridiculous — I was deliriously glad he could help.
Since I moved into my house in rural Somerset, men I know have offered advice about how to plumb in the dishwasher (saving me hiring a plumber), how to tell if the oil tank’s empty (I was just waiting for the radiators to go off) and what I should do about a wobbly looking tree that I feared might crash into my bedroom in a high wind (I had never even heard of having a tree ‘topped’).
Do these are mansplaining examples? If so, then I live in the house that mansplaining built — and I’m grateful for every second of male advice and explanation that has gone into it.
Men can offer advice to their wives as a way to demonstrate that they care.
When I ask my female friends about ‘mansplaining’, most admit that, while they are sometimes frustrated by unsolicited advice, there are plenty of times when they are grateful for assistance.
‘I once sent my dad a photo of the fuse box and said: “Tell me what to do”,’ one admitted.
Another woman told me that her mom regularly sent lists of odd-jobs to her dad. ‘If I need to paint something, I’ll ask my dad — he’s just better at it.’
That’s great. But you can’t ask men for help, then get angry with them for offering more of it.
Katie said she will happily take a bit of mansplaining over a woke world in which men simply stop offering women help, for fear of offending us (file image)
Perhaps some would write off as mansplaining father-of-two Rob Kenney’s YouTube channel called Dad, How Do I?, but I was touched to see his videos of himself showing how to do practical jobs, such as checking a car’s oil levels and unclogging a drain.
The channel’s success (he has more than three million subscribers) suggests how many of us sometimes need a dad to turn to for advice. Sometimes I wish that I had the ability to call my father, if only he was still around.
Even mansplaining can have a sweetness, I think. Men can offer advice to their female friends as a way to express that they care. My new house was celebrated by my female friends with cakes and cards, but I received reassurance from male friends that the roof was in a good place.
Of course, I know plenty of women are capable of doing practical things — I have friends who fix their own roof tiles and can install a log burner without breaking a sweat.
I don’t believe men’s penchant for DIY is a matter of gender difference or something they are born with — often they are simply lucky enough to be taught these things as they grow up. However, they are unlikely to be stopped from helping others.
Ultimately, I’ll happily take a bit of mansplaining over a woke world in which men simply stop offering women help, for fear of offending us.
After all, in that world, I would be sitting in a freezing house with no working TV and a toilet that won’t flush.