“Mansplaining” is usually understood as the phenomenon of men earnestly holding forth to women about a topic which they are already aware of, possibly even expert in. It’s patronising, infantilising, and generally off-putting. It also fails to take into account the fact that the woman in question may be extremely well informed on the topic, but far too polite to interrupt the man and challenge him, which he would probably take with singularly bad grace anyway. Mansplaining is, by all reasonable standards, not a very nice thing.
That said, it occurred to me the other night that it’s just sort of the way that men communicate, even with other men. I was having a chat with a male friend and I noticed that we tended to hold forth on a topic, then wait, and the other person would then agree or seek further information. It was a little like a Socratic dialogue but with far fewer straw men.
That pattern of conversation is pretty common actually. It seems to me that this monologue-response-monologue pattern is standard for many of my interactions with men. I can’t explain why this is, but for me I often don’t feel that I understand something unless I’ve spoken about it, so having the clear air to be able to monologue for a few minutes about my pet topic actually helps me understand myself better. I don’t intend any offence by doing it, but it can be difficult for me to fully understand what I think without talking (or writing) about it
So while mansplaining may be taken as patronising by many women, which it clearly is, it is also the default conversation style for many men, even amongst themselves.