“That arrogant idiot never stopped mansplaining on how I was supposed to be in my axis”, a friend in the milonga fumed. “Who’s he, Pablo Inza?” I felt uneasy listening to her. “Maybe he’s trying to be helpful,” I suggested. “Helpful, my ass,” she said. “He’d better spend time improving his leading. I’m hardly surviving out there.” I knew the guy. He was no Pablo Inza. She had a wonderful balance, too. “Maybe someone should tell him his leading needs improving,” I said. “Yeah, maybe a real tango teacher, would be a great idea. It’s been a while since he saw one. When I tell him, he’ll never dance with me again. Guys are awfully susceptible.” As if I didn’t know.
Her complaint, and many like hers that I’ve heard over the years, was about the – according to some – widespread societal phenomenon that men assume that a man knows better. It may even be more widespread in tango than elsewhere and I worried I was guilty of mansplaining myself. You see, the mansplainer is usually gloriously unaware of it, like white people’s unawareness of white privilege. “All men mansplain,” my friend clarified her position. I embarked on a perilous journey. “Give me some examples,” I said. “I once assisted in a beginner’s class. A guy twisting my arm was telling me mine was too stiff.” Taken from life. “Good one, but I once had a woman explain to me my arm wasn’t stiff enough, for clear leading. Was she mansplaining me?” Living dangerously. “It’s about a certain condescending tone,” she added. “Like not waiting for your response and making you feel dumb.”
Our debate went into the difference between explaining and mansplaining. “If a man explains to me what the best embrace is for a follower, I call that mansplaining,” she said. I remembered the times I was explained the correct way to separate laundry or set a table; things I knew well but was still somehow deemed too dumb for. “What if she’s hanging on his shoulders like a bag of potatoes, and he tries to rescue his back? Still mansplaining?” She paused and then nodded. “If he automatically assumes it’s all on her, yes. Maybe his posture is crooked, and she can’t hold him any other way.” A good point. “Men explain to me followers lose their abilities when they start practicing leading. None of them ever followed themselves.” “Technically, that’s not mansplaining,” I said. “That’s just stupid. It’s not the same.” Still resisting.
I decided to come clean. “Okay, I have mansplained. I may have mansplained quite a bit. I offer my sincerest apologies to the victims. But I think it’s under control now.” “Really,” she said, “I didn’t think you were the type.” I thought about the exasperating frustration when tango wasn’t working. The subtle body language of rejection from some followers when tango wasn’t good. How it can deceive you into hoping it was all your partner’s mistake. Constantly trying in vain to figure out why the lead doesn’t produce the result it’s supposed to. Feeling insecure about it. And the genuine wish to solve tango mysteries. “Why do you think you mansplained?” she asked. I paused for a while. ”Assuming I know, would I explain it to you now?’
Published: 11 Jun 2023 @ 10:34