A lesson in punctuation (women know stuff)

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Let’s talk about a pervasive issue that many women, including myself, encounter regularly: the assumption that we don’t understand technology or need help when we make a statement about it. This assumption is not only frustrating but deeply patronising. It’s time to address this head-on.

Recently, I shared my experience with a new computer that didn’t meet my needs for video and photo editing. Despite my clear statement about the device’s limitations, the responses I received were overwhelmingly patronising, with men offering unsolicited advice as if I were clueless. Let me be clear: I wasn’t asking for help. I was making an informed statement based on my expertise.

For context, I’ve been building my own computers since the 90s. I understand technical specifications and what’s required for the tasks I perform. The computer in question, a MacBook Air, lacks the necessary RAM and hard drive capacity to run Creative Suite effectively, which is essential for my work. This isn’t about being ungrateful for the gift; it’s about recognising that certain tools are not fit for certain purposes.

The real issue here is the broader societal pattern where men assume women need their guidance or intervention. This behaviour, often referred to as mansplaining, is when a man explains something to a woman in a condescending manner, assuming she lacks knowledge. It’s not just annoying; it’s insulting and strips us of our agency.

Women can and do make statements from a place of knowledge. When we say something, it doesn’t automatically mean we’re seeking advice or help. Assuming otherwise is sexist. It implies that we don’t know what we’re talking about and need a man to step in and correct us. This is a boundary violation and a clear example of how women’s voices are often undermined.

Moreover, when women assert themselves and push back against this patronising behaviour, we’re labelled as ungrateful or rude. It’s as if we’re expected to accept unsolicited advice with a smile, and if we don’t, we’re seen as problematic. This double standard is exhausting and unfair.

To all the men out there: recognise that women are fully capable human beings with expertise and knowledge. We don’t need your unsolicited advice. If we want help, we’ll ask for it. Until then, respect our statements as informed and valid. Treat us as equals who have access to the same information and tools as you do.

It’s 2023. The term mansplaining has been around for over a decade. If you still don’t understand what it means or why it’s problematic, it’s because you don’t want to. Stop seeing question marks where there are full stops. Stop assuming women don’t know what they’re talking about. And most importantly, stop injecting yourself into conversations where your input wasn’t solicited.

We are more than capable of handling our own affairs. We have been navigating the internet and technology for as long as you have. It’s time to acknowledge and respect that. Treat women like the knowledgeable, capable individuals we are. Enough with the patronising behaviour. It’s not helpful; it’s demeaning.

Let’s move forward with respect and equality. Women know their stuff. Recognise it, respect it, and stop assuming otherwise.