mansplaining newspeak


In his book 1984, George Orwell imagined a controlled language invented by a totalitarian left wing government which was designed to limit and control expression and thought. Termed Newspeak, it follows the same grammatical rules as English but is more limiting and has a frequently updated vocabulary. This definition matches perfectly with the developing lexicon of the modern, politically correct liberal-left. Sociology and gender studies graduates invent Newspeak on their Tumblr blogs, which gradually penetrates into the mainstream via the liberal media. It can even be enshrined in policy, as was the case with “hatespeech” which is shockingly similar to 1984’s “crimethink” both in application and purpose.

One of the newest examples of Newspeak is the clumsy verb mansplaining which means “a man explaining (something) to a woman in a manner regarded as condescending or patronising”. The new word, like many of Orwell’s Newspeak words, is a portmanteau but more unusually it is the product of “agent incorporation” which is the process in which the active agent is incorporated into the verb itself. Although different people define the new word differently, it is generally agreed that only a man can “mansplain” and that it is usually done to a woman. Others limit the use of the term exclusively to what they call cis-het men, which literally means “heterosexual men who are not transvestites” (aka “normal” in Oldspeak/oldthink).

The word is a political construction intended to render an opposing argument invalid based on the sexuality/gender of the speaker, rather than the content of their argument. In Newspeak, the purpose of the new verb is to facilitate crimestop and promote goodthink in place of crimethink/hatethink/hatecrime or whatever they call it. There are occasions when the verb can also be applied to a woman, but only in such a way that implies the prefix “man” itself is negative. “Man” then becomes a pejorative like “girl” in, “you throw like a girl”. The implication is that those of the male gender are more likely to be condescending and to pretend to know about things which they do not.

The portmanteau has also been adapted to a more sinister racial context too. The first instance of this is to be found in whitesplaining which as you can guess, assigns the aforementioned alleged negative traits of the male gender to the white race as a whole. If you offer a counterpoint to someone who is non-white and you are white, then you are “whitesplaining” and therefore ungood.

While whitesplaining has its roots in the same obscure left wing Tumblr blogosphere as its parent mansplaining, the second example goysplaining was first used by Jewish website, Forward and far-left website, Salon. Forward’s “sisterhood” blog published a post entitled “The Art of Goysplaining” on 30th March this year. 19 days later, the ugly word appears in an article entitled “Hillary Clinton “goysplains” to Bernie Sanders in Passover article, accusing him of betraying his people by criticizing Israel”. In both cases, its use implies that discourse surrounding the Jewish religion should be restricted only to people who are ethnically Jewish.

The media have the power to shape language and therefore thought in a way not dissimilar to the Ministry of Truth in 1984. Conscientious individuals with an interest in language and a knowledge of history should speak out against such words and their implications while they still can!

Written by Tom Rowsell