How Do We Stop Men From Explaining Things To Us?

You know what bothers me? When you, say, bring over Citizen Kane to watch with a bunch of your contemporaries or people younger than you. There’s always one guy, who, 20 minutes in, will declare “yeah, this is a good movie. See the dialogue. See how they made that work?” As though he directed the movie. As though we were all waiting for him to confirm that it met his standards and he will point out that dialogue as though he made it up in his head. At which point my own head always literally explodes, which is why I have to hurtle around the room, blind, trying to find my lips so I can reply “it’s Citizen Kane, you fucking moron. No one needed you to tell them it was good.”

Often, I’m forced to use puppets.

This is irritating for a few reasons. It implies whoever is saying it knows the entire world of movies, and, more, that their opinion is the only one that matters. Moreover, it implies that, up until now, this movie’s goodness was up for debate, but, no more. Now, perhaps you can pull this off if you are Robert Osborne. But often this person is 22, sleeping on  futon, and not a filmmaker. And they’re sitting there pontificating, which makes it seem as though history was waiting for futon-kid’s judgement. As though, now, at long last, Orson Welles can finally rest in peace.

This is a problem because, while some people will realize this is insane, other people will take this totally seriously if he says it with enough gravitas. Other people will begin to say “yeah, [futon-kid] really knows a lot about movies.”

Look, I’m bringing up this instance partly because I have got to stop hanging out with liberal arts majors. But partly, also, because this does seem to happen with a great variety of people, and isn’t just a problem if you are going to some very swanky dinner parties in Aspen. This can be a pretty universal problem. And it effects aspects of life much more serious than just being pretentious about books and movies.

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    • BeccaTheCyborg

      This post is amazing. Your use of the Schwyzer meme made my damn week.

    • MollyB

      Loved this!

    • The manlyman

      So, how do I point out the mistakes in this article without seeming presumptuous?

      • Jennifer Wright

        Oh, you do it in private. Contact e-mails for each writer appear at the bottom of every post.

      • The manlyman

        yeah, this is a good reply. I will e-mail you to explain to you how your reply really created tension and uncertainty for the original commenter.

    • Lemona

      Thank you for pointing out this annoying phenomenon, an effect of “men being trained to let their opinions be heard,” as you so deftly put it, in such a concise, non-shouty way.

      *I’m glad you’re also watching TCM at night.*

    • SB

      Do you find that these ignorant lectures are gender specific, or do the same jerkoffs spray both genders with their firehoses of benightedness? I’ve always assumed the latter, but I’m a guy.

      • Jennifer Wright

        I think the big difference is that men feel comfortable saying “dude, you’re being a jagoff, you don’t know Kane.” And women will be more inclined to sit there nodding politely.

    • Suriah

      I can’t tell you how much this article rings true to me

    • Jamie Peck

      I agree with you that humor can be a potent weapon against the patriarchy/assholes in general. But not everyone has the wherewithal to make good jokes all the time. I think we need both kinds of responses to douchebaggery: the people who will make jokes that poke holes in it, and the people who will take it to the streets. Some people can even do both. Maybe even at the same time!

      • Jenny

        Humor is my greatest weapon. This inspires a different conversation though. Sarcasm isn’t “seemly” for women.

    • Sabrina


    • Sam

      I was literally just talking to somebody about how many people believe they themselves are amazing because they are aware of amazing things, as though they themselves directed/wrote/etc. those works. As though their taste makes them better than everyone else–and, of course, they usually assume nobody knows those works the way they do. I’ve worked with so many men that are like this, FAR less than the amount of women.

      I think you’re right on about the humor thing. There’s definitely something about responding laughingly that not only makes them shut up and take themselves less seriously, but also helps you not feel so frustrated about being spoken down to.

    • Kj

      As soon as I read this headline, I thought of the guy that started lecturing me on the subtleties of Farsi grammar… IN BED. As in, he interrupted sexy times to see if I remembered the three lines of vocab he had tried to teach me me during our date the week before.

      I think it’s been kind of “cosmo’d” into us to pretend that mens’ random rambling is interesting and stimulating, just so that they feel flattered and that their precious little egos can bask in the attention of a captive audience. Obviously women ramble too, and demand attention undeservedly, but it’s more of the “look at me, I am great!” as opposed to the “look at me, I know everything! Or at least, more than you!” of men. Ugh.

    • Natalie

      I honestly just thought this was something that happened to me/my friends because we are in our early twenties and before that, teenagers, etc. Now I realize that even some men my own age treat us like this. That our opinion means less because we are girls or our facts are less valid. I’m not sure if humor is the best answer, but it is almost the only one. If we demand to be accepted, we will get laughed and made fun of anyway, so might as well make a joke of it.

    • Katie

      Loved this! So true. Just two days ago, a guy in my study group began explaining where implantation of embryos takes place, complete with a sketch of the uterus. We kept trying to interrupt to tell him we knew what a uterus looks like, but he kept on going until I thanked him profusely for finally letting me know where my cervix was.

    • porkchop


      Explaining things is like crack! You can tell by the way drunk people are always doing it. You can’t make it stop except by shouting at them. That is my technique.

    • M

      Oh man. I know this happens to everyone in life at a certain level, but I’m a mechanic and work in an automotive repair shop, both on the cars and in customer service. It is ASTOUNDING how many guys are sure they know more about cars than me. Not gonna lie, there are guys who do [I'm always learning] but generally they aren’t cocky about it; they’ll start light and when they see I keep up just fine they’ll give me everything. And they are frequently my favorite customers because it’s easiest to replicate their problems, I can explain what’s wrong in technical terms without them getting lost, and because they understand why it’s an issue they’ll buy the repair. But the cocky guys, usually they did a little reading on the internet and suddenly they think they’re experts. Seriously, if you know so damn much about it, why are you paying me to get it fixed?

    • Don’t want to bother you :p

      Thanks for the 3 page article in which you explain things.