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In Sweden, a Mansplaining Hotline for Working Women

Does your office have an unofficial Mansplainer-in-Chief? If so — and if you work in Sweden — there’s now a temporary hotline for that.
mansplaining hotline
Image Credit: negativespace.co/Pexels

Sweden’s largest trade union, Unionen, set up the hotline for workers who wish to report instances of mansplaining at their place of business. The goal is not to punish individual offenders, but rather to raise awareness of the problem. So far, Unionen says that they’ve received 215 calls, plus many comments on social media.

“The aim of our campaign is to draw attention to discriminatory behavior in the workplace,” Jennie Zetterstrom told CNN. Zetterstrom is a representative for Unionen. “Sweden is well advanced when it comes to gender equality but much remains to be done. We want to start a discussion which we hope will be the first step in changing the way we treat each other.”

The hotline is staffed by 20 people, runs daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will be open for the rest of the week.

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What Is Mansplaining?

In 2008, author Rebecca Solnit wrote an essay for The Los Angeles Times entitled, Men Who Explain Things. The piece quickly went viral, inspiring a book — and a brand-new portmanteau, “mansplain,” which encompassed the behaviors Solnit described in her piece.

Short version: a man at a party attempted to explain a book to Solnit … a book that Solnit herself had written. He persisted, even after repeatedly being told that she was the author of the book in question. And there it is, even though Solnit never used the word “mansplain” herself: the ur-mansplanation.

Solnit says the piece is her most reposted work. No wonder, when almost every working woman can provide you with an example of mansplaining from her career and life.

And, of course, one temporary hotline probably won’t end mansplaining for good. But it might help draw attention to the problem, and that’s a worthy cause.

Women still earn less than men, even in the same jobs and with the same experience. They are less likely to be promoted, and earn less money when do ascend the corporate ladder. The reasons why are many and complex, but one issue is unconscious bias. For example, married women with children who never prioritize family over work earn 1.1 percent less than men in similar jobs who say the same.

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Experiments like Sweden’s temporary mansplaining hotline can help draw attention to the fact that working women are up against more than just potential work-life balance challenges. They’re fighting against the misconceptions and stereotypes that prevent them from starting their career on an even playing field with men.

In that environment, it’s no wonder men explain things to them — whether they need the explanation or not.

Tell Us What You Think

What do you think of this hotline? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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