If we try to get to the bottom of why mansplaining and manspreading are problematic behaviours (apart from the obvious reasons of course), it all comes down to one thing; Women have been discouraged from taking up space physically, psychologically and intellectually, for decades.
To be honest, we’ve only scratched the surface by calling out manspreading and mansplaining. Intellectually and psychologically, women are still, often, expected to retreat into corners and not express their authentic selves. Why am I saying this? Am I a pessimist? Am I a misandrist? Am I a bitter, single woman, who can’t help but look for a chance to portray women as victims?
I think I am just a woman who’s tired of seeing women being taken as jokes. Let’s take for instance, this TikTok trend that has taken the world by a storm – the ‘Girl Dinner, Girl Math’ trend. Women from all over the world are sharing how they manage their finances and what they eat for dinner under these hashtags. But it’s not just this, the idea behind ‘Girl Dinner,’ is to discuss the things we women eat when we’re at ease, when we feel like we’re exempt from the judgement of society, of patriarchy, of certain men who may look at our food, give it a disapproving frown and call it ‘unhealthy.’
‘Girl Dinners’ are about throwing together easy-to-make meals that may even be described as lazy work. And the truth is, that’s the point. We want to be able to do something for our enjoyment, for the nourishment of our taste-buds and bodies without hearing critical comments that most women have grown up hearing. Comments such as, ‘Wow, you’re such a bad cook.’ Or, ‘No wonder you’re single, you can’t even cook a proper meal to feed yourself, how will you ever be able to cook for your partner, or children?’
The truth is that women are exhausted by trying to be good at things, so that they can serve the people around them. We’d like to be able to make an easy meal without someone telling us we need to ‘Be better, do better.’
And we also understand that this isn’t an excuse to neglect your health and opt for unhealthy food, this trend is not an invitation to glorify poor eating habits. Rather, it’s an invitation to make peace with the fact that sometimes it’s okay to do the bare minimum. Sometimes, you deserve to give yourself ease, sometimes you deserve to give yourself the permission to be laid back.
Now, the same applies to the ‘Girl Math’ trend. It’s not leeway to manage personal finances terribly. It’s an invitation to give yourself the freedom to take ownership of your hard-earned money. ‘Girl Math’ is about us women handling our finances with a sense of autonomy that may not resonate with people who are conditioned to understand money through the lens of patriarchy.
But, if I were to simplify it, I’d best describe it as spending money in a way that has earned you time to save your finances, has earned you the opportunity to extract full use of a high-end product, or spending money in a way where your savings aren’t being impacted.
So, though these trends may seem like frivolous little habits that many women may navigate their life with, they’re actually strategic long-term thought processes, that we’re mostly conscious of. And whatever little content that you do see under these hashtags that seems bizarre, is most probably satire that us women have conjured up to joke about our less-than-perfect habits. Because, maybe, just maybe, we know how to not take ourselves so seriously!
The truth is that these trends have given hundreds of women the space to be imperfect. Maybe it’s just a silly little trend, but it’s also virtual breathing space for women.