Make no mistake, mansplaining is a real and very common phenomenon.
Men explain things that the members of literally every single gender don’t need explained to them—almost as if the man is saying he knows better than you, even when it’s your area of expertise.
But what if it’s his area of expertise and your health is at stake?
Redditor Suspicious-Ladder-76 found himself in that situation, as he was forced to ask the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” for guidance:
“AITA for ‘mansplaining’ pregnancy?”
Our original poster, or OP, explained the situation, coming from the point of view of a male midwife:
“I’m a male midwife, and I have also contributed to research in women’s health and when I was a nurse I contributed to breast cancer research.”
“I’m pretty passionate about women’s health and chose midwifery after I finished nursing for that reason, I was eating with friends and one of my friend’s friend is pregnant.”
“And she was talking about how she didn’t want to have sex with her husband because she didn’t want to hurt the baby which seemed convenient because she was also drinking alcohol.”
Drinking during pregnancy is a big no-no, as we all know, so he let his patient know:
“I informed that that sex isn’t actually harmful to the baby at all and actually provides some health benefits to the mother.”
“And you drinking alcohol is far more harmful, she got angry at me and said that men don’t know anything about pregnancy and said she’s sick of know it all men who know nothing about women’s bodies.”
“I informed her of the information I told you in the previous paragraph. Then she got angrier and left.”
Even OP’s friend didn’t take his side:
“My friend said I didn’t need to shame her like that but I doubled down and said maybe she should listen to people who know more about this subject than her.”
“My friend said I was a dick so I just left since no ones going to listen to me and I couldn’t believe the stupidity.”
Redditors decided where guilt belongs by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Redditors agree that the rules of mansplaining don’t necessarily apply here.
“NTA I’m a female Obstetrician and have had people react like this to me (as in patients who have actually come to see me and more commonly mother’s of patients who ‘have been through it’).”
“People don’t want to hear what they don’t want to hear but you gave her solid and safe advice and you’re an expert. And you weren’t mansplaining!”~Bobblecake
“Mansplaining is when a man condescendingly explains something in an oversimplified way to a woman who knows the particular subject matter better than the man does.”
“OP is a midwife and therefore was not mansplaining. Now, if the pregnant woman was an OBGYN and he, as a midwife, had that same discussion with her, THAT would be mansplaining.”~PistolPetunia
“Not just proven wrong but by a MAN and pointing out she was doing something worse and potentially more harmful.”
“A lot of people always want to be right and correct people in medical fields i get ‘corrected’ daily, usually with the Ive been using it long that you’ve been alive argument. NTA”~adammj1987
“Yeah this is exactly right.”
“Mansplaining is a thing, and it’s super annoying. This wasn’t mansplaining, it was just a more educated person (who happened to be a man) giving info on a topic they’re well versed in after someone gave misinformation.”
After all, drinking in any capacity can have negative health effects for a fetus.
“NTA I usually hate unsolicited advice but since you definitely actually know what you’re talking about here I’ll allow it. In that spirit some unsolicited advice from me to you is next time say ‘I’m a midwife if you want to hear some advice about that’.”
“That way she knows you’re not just some dude who read a wikipedia article about pregnancy and watched Knocked Up. And she can say no thank you if she doesn’t want to hear it. She definitely got too defensive and also duh don’t drink while you’re pregnant, everyone knows that!”~SailorSpoon11
“NTA. the number of women who don’t know how pregnancy, menstruation, etc. works is astounding, this is coming from a woman! i’ve heard of instances where adult women would just lie in bed (no sex, literally just lying in bed) with their husband, then becoming confused as to why they’re not pregnant. you’re a qualified professional who knows their shit, not at all TA for wanting to inform someone.”~fluffy2monster
“So NTA. The pregnant woman needs to drop the alcohol and stop pretending like her reasons are for the babies health.”
“Coming from a mom of a two year old who quit smoking cigarettes and stopped drinking all together when i found out i was pregnant, the woman you described sounds ignorant and like she’s just upset you called her out. It’s the most selfish thing ever to drink or smoke while pregnant.”
“Hope she changes her ways.”~akkimmbz23
“NTA. You’re a midwife who is incredibly passionate about women’s health and she’s angry at you for informing her of something pregnancy-related because apparently you’re a ‘know it all man’ when this kind of subject is your speciality.”
“She should have at least considered what you had to say as somebody who specialises in women’s health. and not a ‘know it all man who knows nothing about women’s bodies.'”~chooroo
Some, however, do believe that OP overstepped his bounds, though he was not the only person in the wrong.
“ESH. I know where you’re coming from, it can be incredibly frustrating and difficult to hear people (relatively) close to you express ideas that you know to be untrue.”
“However, as you stress your professional expertise, I suggest rethinking or even retraining your communication. Health care providers can have all the knowledge in the world, but it won’t do much unless they know how to convey it.”
“In this case, you may have been right about the facts, but you were wrong in how you handled this, and have probably achieved nothing or even worse you’ve confirmed her beliefs by having her ‘dig her heels in’.”
“Furthermore, you may want to evaluate your professional/private balance; in my experience some health care providers seem to have no ‘off switch’ and are in consultation mode all the time. This can cause awkward situations and even conflict if ‘professional behaviour’ is interjected into private, casual conversation.”
“I’ve seen an acquaintance handle this by saying something like ‘as your friend I just want to offer you support, but professional me has some information that could be of use, if you feel like you’d want to know more about this, let me know, I could tell you or set up an appointment with one of my colleagues.'”
“I admire your passion, and I hope you don’t burn out in your valiant effort to educate and inform. I wish you balance and tenacity :)”~MissRbvK
“ESH. You weren’t in a clinical situation, you were in a social situation, and correcting her in front of everyone was very rude.”
“If your concern was for the baby and for possible misinformation keeping her from having sex that she wanted, you could have quietly taken her aside at some point and told her that you were a midwife and said that it was fine for her to have sex if she wanted it and also that you hoped she was limiting her alcohol because it was dangerous to the fetus if it was more than very rarely.”
“She is an a**hole for saying that a man couldn’t possibly know what he’s talking about when it comes to pregnancy, but honestly you’re more of one for blasting her with an audience.”~detail_giraffe
“I’m gonna go against the grain here, and say ESH. But hear me out.”
“She absolutely should not be drinking while pregnant. That’s horrible, and she is obviously TA for that.”
“But your comment about her reasoning for not wanting to have sex being ‘convenient’ just doesn’t sit well with me.”
“It’s one thing to explain that it’s perfectly healthy and fine to have sex while pregnant, but in the end it doesn’t matter WHY she doesn’t want to/doesn’t feel comfortable having sex. No reason is ‘convenient’.”
“It just is. If she’s uncomfortable having sex for whatever reason, that’s just how it is.”
“I get that it may just be bad wording on your part or whatever, but that stuff matters. Especially coming from someone who is apparently so passionate about women’s health.”~lockedandLokid
“ESH if you had left the alcohol comments to yourself I would have given you a not the a**hole. You are a midwife, but you are not her midwife.”
“Some doctors/midwifes/etc okay small amounts of beer/wine during pregnancy. You don’t know what conversations she’d had with them to that effect.”
“As for the sex comments, I agree with the commenter who said you should have led with ‘I’m a midwife and can answer any questions you may have about that.'”
“She obviously overreacted.”~lemonhead2345
In any case, drinking while pregnant is controversial as some doctors and midwives say small amounts on rare occasions during a pregnancy are fine. Others claim no amount is safe.
And while OP may have lightly overstepped his bounds, in the end, he was not some random man off the street, he was a women’s healthcare professional. But not HER healthcare professional.
Hopefully new social boundaries can be drawn for him, like knowing a woman’s desire to have sex or not is none of his business if he isn’t their sexual partner. Hopefully the pregnant woman is consulting with her own healthcare provider and being honest about her concerns and behavior during her pregnancy.