By Mhairi McAlpine
Feminists among Bella Caledonia readers will be familiar with the concept of “mansplaining”. Its always gone on, but until recently we didn’t have an actual word for it. For the uninitiated, mansplaining – a derivative of the verb “to explain” - is when a man explains something to a woman, because he is a man and she is a woman.
The mansplainer is a tricky character – whether in the guise of benevolent sexism, patronising condecension or patriarchial power masquerading as liberatory practice, its hard and frustrating to pin him down on why exactly he has suddenly ignited a massive fury from deep within that is too steeped in anger to vocalise. They have been the bane of feminist’s lives for years.
Generally it takes three forms.
1. When a man explains to a woman how to do something requiring basic human competence.
“Lovely to see you, bye then.”
Mansplainer: “You too. See if you just turn that handle, not too hard and then pull the door towards you, take a step back so that there’s room for it to open, then walk through it and give it a pull behind you. Bye.”
2. When a man explains basic feminist principles to a woman.
Woman: “I think we should kill all teh menz”.
Mansplainer: “Violence is a patriarchial concept designed to subdue women who should work for the emancipation and liberation of women as a means of overcoming the violence and hate that men have created through their domination and oppression. “
3. When a man “corrects” a woman’s feminism.
Woman: “Ouch! …and for fucks sake turn that shite off the telly.”
Mansplainer: “Third wave feminist theory confirms that BDSM is a liberatory practice which allows for negotiation of boundaries and power within sexual relationships and that viewing erotic imagery confirms female sexuality which is nothing to be ashamed of. You should embrace your inner slut and that way you will be freeeeee.”
As I survey my country, plastered in the flag of imperialism – an ugly aggressive design with one country well stamped over the others, forced to celebrate an the existence of an astoundingly privilaged woman while the state broadcaster pumps out an unending diet of pro-monarchy, pro-imperialist, pro-christian propaganda, I look longingly at 2014. In 2014, we will have the opportunity to ditch the union and the legacy of empire and build a new nation state. I’m not denying Scotland’s past, there are many peoples in many lands who curse “Scotland the Brave” and have good reason to, but I want a new Scotland.
A republican internationalist Scotland.
Which is where the Britsplainer comes in. The Britsplainer avowedly adheres to the principles of socialism, which he (and I have yet to meet a female Britsplainer) is only too anxious to educate you in as you have clearly strayed from the one true “British Road to Socialism”, and sees it as his solemn responsibility to stand in the way of the path that you have chosen waving his arms and hysterically shouting “Not that way, for Gods sakes not that way, you’ll get lost, murdered, eaten by wolves!”
Like mansplaining, Britsplaining comes in a variety of flavours:
1. When a socialist from the RoUK carefully explains British history to a Scottish Socialist.
Scottish Socialist: I’m glad we’ve got the chance to shape the future of Scotland in the lead up to 2014.
Britsplainer: The NHS was built on the back of the British Working Class, how can you sully their memory in this manner and besides in 1955 the majority of people in North Britain voted for the Conservatives.
2. When a socialist from the RoUK explains international solidarity to a Scottish Socialist.
Scottish Socialist: Wow, situation in Greece is really worrying.
Britsplainer: In RoUK we are being robbed of our NHS, our students have to pay £9K fees and our hospitals are being sold off while you abandon us to the Tories and now we will never get Labour back in and it will all be your fault – how can you even think about Greece.
3. When a socialist from the RoUK explains class unity to a Scottish Socialist
Scottish Socialist: Looking forward to the discussions in my union about how best we can have rank and file power in the context of an independent Scotland.
Britsplainer: The British Working Class is organised in the British Trade Union Movement. You will split the British Working Class, weakening and dividing it. The ruling class will pounce on the weakened British Trade Union Movement, who will no longer be able to call A to B marches or have their General Secretaries so exhaulted that they serve on the Board of the Bank of England.
The thing is that the Scottish Left does already demonstrate solidarity with RoUK. Students have fought for RoUK students not to be charged £9K fees at Scottish Universities, opposed the selloff of the RoUK NHS. Hell we even deal with the RoUK fascists who get bussed up here to pretend to be the SDL for the day.
It is not for RoUK socialists to determine Scotland’s future. It would be awfully nice of them if they would help us see one without nuclear weapons and NATO, where we have common ownership of our land and our resources put to the benefit of the people, but I understand that they too have their own battles to fight. The struggle for national liberation is one for Scottish socialists to lead,but it would be a whole lot easier to fight it if they got out of our way and then they wouldn’t run the risk of getting punched in the face while we do it.