World News

British Leader Calls Out ‘Mansplaining’ in Parliament

Posted March 7, 2018 9:15 p.m. EST

In the age of the #MeToo movement, the use of the term “mansplaining” — to point out patronizing explanations made by men to female counterparts — has become increasingly mainstream.

So mainstream that it has now been used by Britain’s prime minister in the House of Commons.

Prime Minister Theresa May denounced comments by Jeremy Corbyn — the opposition leader who criticized her for meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia before International Women’s Day — as “mansplaining” during a session on Wednesday.

“Can I thank the right honorable gentleman for telling me that it’s International Women’s Day tomorrow? I think that’s what’s called mansplaining,” May said, shooting a cold stare at Corbyn, before defending her meeting with Prince Mohammed during his visit to Britain. She said she planned to raise human rights concerns during the meeting.

May followed up the comment with a message on Twitter directed at Corbyn that included a definition of the term from the Oxford Dictionary: “to mansplain — verb informal — explaining (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.”

Earlier, during time set aside for members to direct questions to the prime minister, Corbyn had criticized May’s decision to meet with the prince.

Corbyn began by saying that International Women’s Day, observed on Thursday, was “a chance to both celebrate how far we have come on equality for women, but also to reflect on how far we have to go.” He then detailed Saudi human rights abuses, including those against women.

“Will she also call on the crown prince to halt the shocking abuse of human rights in Saudi Arabia?” he concluded.

British social media users disagreed on whether Corbyn’s comments constituted mansplaining.

Some said that May’s use of the term seemed defensive, invoked to avoid criticism of her welcome of the prince. One Twitter user called it “a perfect example of when ‘feminism’ is used by women to distract from their own participation in oppression.”

Others applauded May for standing her ground in an institution long dominated by men. “She is taking the lead of the most difficult times of the U.K.,” one person wrote on Twitter.

Either way, a small bit of history was made on Wednesday — the day “mansplaining” was uttered by a prime minister on the floor of Parliament.