A conversation that has never occurred:
Boy: I'm really into football
Girl: Oh cool! Did you know Tom Brady** used to play for the Patriots?
And yet I recently went on a date where a boy asked me what music I like. I told him that I'm into Taylor Swift and have been to multiple concerts of hers. He responded, "Did you know that Taylor Swift is really tall?"
Huh. Even after seeing her 5 times in person and uncountable times on the red carpet and at awards shows and in music videos, photo shoots, album covers, Instagram lives, and Netflix documentaries somehow her height completely evaded my notice.
I can also tell you that generally, even when I am a casual fan of someone, I know a few things about them such as what they look like.
This, somehow, isn't a surprising or rare occurrence. True, it is the first time that I've been educated on Taylor Swift's height, but in general when I bring up any interest of mine, most of my dates respond by quickly pulling out their one fact about said interest and proudly displaying it for me as if I have never heard of it before.
Punting the ball back to football-somehow as a woman who does not know that much about football I have managed to not explain the few facts I do know to any man when it comes up. (And honestly? I wish it came up more. There is something refreshing about dating a guy who loves football. That refreshing thing is knowing that you'll be free to do whatever you want any Sunday from September-February and your husband won't notice.)
Mansplaining isn't a new concept, it gained traction as a punchline around the same time that the #MeToo movement bounced into focus. I'm more concerned with the why and the how. Why is it that girls learn how to have empathetic conversations where they don't demean the other person's knowledge, while boys never get past that middle school-esque stage of asserting their own place in the conversation?
I'll throw a Hail Mary back to the football example:
(Am I using these puns correctly? I have absolutely no idea)
Boy: I love football.
Girl: That's great! What is it you like about it?
Boy: It reminds me of a time when my father loved me.
See! The girl's response deepened the conversation and brought us all the way into childhood trauma-an excellent thing to cover on a first date!
Could it be that women are so used to having their interests, hobbies, and focuses be considered secondary to what men are into that they have learned how to skirt the hobby for what lies beneath? And, by relegating female hobbies to second place, do we doom the men of our species to thinking that it is socially appropriate to explain them to us-because as second place interests they must be shrouded in mystery?
It's a disservice to the men of the world who come off looking like idiots because they are simply following what the media's taught them-that women don't really know what they are talking about because they choose to follow things other than sports and politics. And it's a disservice to the women who just want to get through one phone call without being educated on their greatest expertise.
**May he burn in hell for all eternity, AMEN.