Feminism

Swedish Union Sets Up 'Mansplaining' Hotline

Workers could call in to receive advice from a cadre of gender experts and feminist politicians.

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Uncle Sam
James Montgomery Flagg/Wikimedia Commons

The Swedish trade union Unionen—which represents 600,000 white-collar workers—made a brief but concerted stand against male condescension in the workplace this November by setting up a weeklong dedicated "mansplaining" hotline.

The hotline enabled workers of both genders to call in to report times when they or a coworker felt patronized, undervalued, or degraded, or otherwise received emails containing the phrase "well, actually…"

On the other end of the line would be academics, gender relations experts, and feminist politicians waiting to offer support and professional advice on how to counter this pernicious "domination technique."

Unionen spokesperson Jennie Zetterstrom told The New York Times that the purpose of the hotline was to "contribute to awareness and start a discussion which we hope will be the first step in changing the way we treat each other and talk about each other in the workplace."

During its week of operation, Zetterstrom said the hotline received calls on a range of situations, from women looking for advice on how to speak up in the face of overconfident male colleagues, to men looking to help female co-workers being ignored in group exercises.

While many callers no doubt found the hotline service helpful, it also sparked a predictable and understandable backlash online. The Independent reported that a number of Swedish social media commenters derided the hotline itself as "sexist" and "polarizing."

It attracted some international mockery as well, with Australian writer Peter Pobje proposing a mansplaining hotline of his own where he would advise callers on "how to be a bit less emotional about everything."

Zetterstrom told the Times that while she regrets causing anyone offense, the whole intention of the project was to "spark interest and start a debate at our workplaces and in society." Given the attention generated, Unionen can certainly be said to have succeeded on that front.

Americans who might need help confronting or coping with mansplaining without the convenient aid of a hotline can still avail themselves of numerous advice articles, while anyone looking for examples of the phenomenon might opt to consult this online archive of mansplaining incidents.

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  1. Europe is doomed.

    1. I, for one, will attempt no landing there.

    2. You kiddin’? This is just the thing that’s going to take care of the Muslim Invasion!

    3. Europe is doomed.

      Don’t forget that this stupidity will soon be coming to the shores of America.

      1. Scratch that.

        Don’t we already have microaggression hotlines and anonymous online reporting?

  2. Haven’t read the article where do I apply to take calls so’s I can mansplain things to the masses.

    1. 1. Get off you lazy asses and het back to work instead of calling some mansplaining hotline.

  3. *White* collar workers? Racist!

  4. Wait. Could I take such calls?

    1. That’s not the question. The question is: would you take such calls?

        1. Yeah, me too. It’s me and Prol to the call center now!

          1. Meh. Might be fun for about ten minutes, but after that?

            -jcr

  5. So what are we supposed to do? Not correct people when they are just wrong about something?

    1. Do it the right way.

      “Listen, you fucking idiot!”

      1. Well, actually, I’d go with “You ignorant slut!”, you ignorant slut.

        1. “Do you identify as more of a fucking idiot or an ignorant slut?”

          1. Ignorant fucker actually.

    2. There are other ways of knowing, Zeb! Sure they have no “practical” application, but they feel “correct”.

    3. If they were actually wrong, it’s not mansplaining.

      Mansplaining is when they were right and you proceed to explain it to them anyways just to make sure anyone in the area knows you also know whatever they just said. e.g.:

      Alice: I was thinking our new application looks like the perfect use case for a RESTful web service
      Bob: Yes, RESTful interfaces are a standard way of implementing the model portion of a MVC design for a web service

      Bob isn’t adding anything to the conversation since Alice obviously already knows what a RESTful interface is. He’s just making sure to signal that he’s just as smart as Alice is.

      1. so, virtue signaling? or just echo chamber?

        1. More intelligence signaling than virtue signalling

      2. I’m not sure how “well, actually” comes into it if you aren’t correcting someone.

        What you describe is an obnoxious habit that some people have, but I’m not so sure it’s specifically something men do to women.

      3. Thats not correct.

  6. On the other end of the line would be academics, gender relations experts, and feminist politicians waiting to offer support and professional advice on how to counter this pernicious “domination technique.”

    What they ought to have on the other end of the line is a tough old broad like my maternal grandmother who would tell callers to quit sucking your damn thumb and grow up.

  7. Can create a Kickstarter to build a bubble around Brooklyn?

  8. I’ll laugh if the hotline is mostly staffed by men. I could use a good laugh lately.

    1. I’m guessing that men will be underrepresented. But I’m just guessing.

    2. We pay John with your tax dollars to comment here.

      1. Well, as long as it’s not Tony’s who is getting those tax dollars to comment here. I’d be forced to go to my monocle mines and beat some of my orphan slaves in frustration.

        1. Wait… you aren’t laughing? Yeah, me neither.

  9. “I feel very uncomfortable around my co-worker Crusty, he keeps grabbing my male genitalia and yelling ‘Trump says I can’, what should I do?” – sleepless in Reason’s break room

    1. “Trump says I can grab as many pussies as I want to. But I can’t get any work done now. How can I balance pussy grabbing with all my other responsibilities?”

  10. Would it be too much to expect a woman “subjected” to the phrase “Well, actually…” to respond with “No, actually…”

    See how that works? I tell you I disagree with your assessment, and then you explain to me why you disagree with what I’ve just said. We keep going back and forth until we reach agreement or agree to disagree.

    We could even come up with a word for that process, we could call it… discussion.

    1. Yeah, is it really a man’s problem that some women don’t feel confident to defend their positions?

      1. Socratic Method hardest hit.

      2. I think it’s more an issue that the female tendency is to work towards social harmony. A company’s bottom line is affected by whether or not someone is right or wrong, and determining how to proceed with that in mind causes disharmony. They tend to read that as being factual without regards to people’s personal feelings as being a male trait, and therefore bad.

        1. They tend to read that as being factual without regards to people’s personal feelings as being a male trait, and therefore bad.

          After a long struggle, I am being forced to fire someone for pretty much that exact reason – he does excellent work, is unfailingly professional, but some people just aren’t “comfortable” with his rather rapid-fire, intense style. My search for specific incidents where he crossed any lines whatsoever has come up empty, but I will nonetheless have to let him go. The lack of any detectable cause whatsoever will result in a nice severance for him, though.

          1. Hopefully what he does isn’t so specialized that he can’t do it somewhere else. Your company is idiotic for letting someone like that go over to their competition (assuming they have any, of course).

          2. May I suggest that you are firing the wrong person?

    2. No see, it is only a discussion once you have agreed to accept all of their base premises beforehand

      1. Kind of like an Overton Window with a height of zero.

      2. Oh, I thought that was just conversations.

      3. Sort of like national conversations about healthcare, gun control, etc.

  11. You know who else set up a “hot line” in Europe to get rid of a problem?

    1. The Sylvers?

    2. Stalin and Hitler with the Triparte Pact?

  12. We totally intended to start a broader conversation about this, uh yeah, that’s the ticket.

  13. On the other end of the line would be academics, gender relations experts, and feminist politicians waiting to offer support and professional advice on how to counter this pernicious “domination technique.”

    C’mon, how much effort, education and expenditure could possibly be invested in saying “suck it up, buttercup”?

    *reads further*

    Oh.

    1. On the other end of the line would be CLAIMED academics, gender relations experts, and feminist politicians waiting to offer support and professional advice on how to counter this pernicious “domination technique.”

  14. “Ja, first you put da burbot in cold water, ja. Den add some lye, ja. An’ den, add more water, ja. Takes only about turteen days to make da meal, ja. Real goot, ja.”

    1. Fergen fergen.

      A restaurant I worked for hired in a Swedish exec. My good lord, talk about fun. I spent his first 48 hours in the job frantically expressing to the line cooks the absolute inadvisability of acknowledging they’ve ever heard of the goddamned Muppets.

  15. while anyone looking for examples of the phenomenon might opt to consult this online archive of mansplaining incidents.

    I loled. Well done.

    1. Concur.

    2. Indeed. Mr. Unpronounceable is alright.

  16. No sweetie, see to the extent that “mansplaining” exists it is mens really weak attempt to engage in social warfare with you because without tits there is no way he could get away with the bullshit you pull.

  17. Hotline ringing…

    Hotline employee: Hello, this is Anika, how can I help you?

    Caller: Hello, this Amir, what are you wearing?

    Hotline employee: What, I’m sorry, you can’t ask me that. Are you feeling patronized, undervalued, or degraded in your workplace?

    Caller: Yes, the other workers refuse my demand that they convert to Islam now, or face jihad!

    Hotline employee: Oh, I’m sorry to hear this, Amir, but there are peaceful ways to deal with this. Have you considered maybe getting a kitten or…

    Caller: Shut up woman! Tell me what you wearing now, or I must come there and rape you, infidel, in the name of Mohammed!

    Hotline employee: Umm, have you considered a puppy maybe?

    1. Yes, Amir probably has considered raping a puppy

      1. Is “puppy” that what you call a baby camel?

        /ducks and runs away

      2. And/or cutting the infidel puppies head off.

  18. I would be happy to volunteer for this hotline. If they ask me to explain a subject i don’t know much about, I can always tell them not to worry their pretty heads about it.

  19. containing the phrase “well, actually?”

    This is going to normalize “Shut up and listen, bitch.”

    Mark. My. Words.

    1. How do you say ‘Quit being stupid!’ in Swedish?

  20. In any random gathering of my adult friends, the guys can explain about the stock market, home repairs, cars, tigers, software….anything. Go ahead, ask the ladies to explain something practical to you. You want to penalize men who are willing to explain something to you? Go ahead, they might just not tell you how things work. I’ve noticed in this context that men read up on stuff, do stuff, so they CAN explain things to you. The ladies might try that, but they won’t (in most cases).

    1. This, I have learned to reply to a lot of people in my wife’s social circle with “mm hmm” (she’s a school principle) and then walk away… but after a few drinks…. oh boy all bets are off. I mansplain a great deal. As it turns out many teachers think I am an arrogant know it all. Because informed and confident is not in the vernacular. My social circle, women and men, it is a free for all, with only the very occasional “sorry your feelins were hurt….. dumbass” All this wealth and easy living is making western civilisation soft and stupid…

    2. Sexist! You are making them feel bad about themselves because they cannot contribute to that range of topics.

  21. The hotline enabled workers of both genders to call in to report times when they or a coworker felt patronized, undervalued, or degraded, or otherwise received emails containing the phrase “well, actually?”

    Well, what a fucking waste of resources by Unionen.

    1. *** calls hotline ***

      I feel undervalued by the late Lynx.

      1. Hey, they tried their best in the WNBA Finals!

  22. the whole intention of the project was to “spark interest and start a debate at our workplaces and in society”

    You know, for some reason, I just don’t believe her. Just about every time I’ve ever heard someone announce how they wanted to “start a debate” about something, debate turned out to be the last thing they had on their mind. More like start a harangue.

  23. Is there any hope for the human race?

  24. Sweden is the one country in Europe which might be better off as a totalitarian Muslim theocracy. For men, anyway.

  25. Shouldn’t a mansplaining hotline belittle and be condescending to the caller? The caller is looking for a little extra mansplaining?

  26. I agree, Mr. Britshi… Mr. Britchig…. Mr. Brishti…. can I call you Chris? This article should have had generated hundreds of comments, perhaps a thousand even, this few dozens is an insult! Keep up the good works, soon the commentariat will be yours, despite Robby’s hair, I’m Damon Root Root Rooting for you.

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