We are often encouraged – even commended – for helping others.
We take out the landlord’s garbage or help a coworker with an important task.
The trouble is that sometimes helping another person opens you up to critiques that you might otherwise have been safe from.
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) throwawaymahnstuh when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for refusing to help my classmate after she accused me of mansplaining?”
OP began by giving some backstory.
“I (M15) sit at my table group in physics class along with two girls, Ellie (F15) and Mia (F16.)”
“Ellie often asks me for help while we are working on practice problems after lectures.”
“She doesn’t really ask specific questions despite me prompting her to, and instead just says general stuff like ‘I don’t get it.”‘
“So I usually explain the concept to her from a more fundamental level to make sure I’m covering whatever she doesn’t understand.”
“It also helps me to give her a comprehensive explanation, because verbalizing the material helps me solidify it in my brain too so it’s a win-win situation.”
Everything was fine, until…
“Yesterday, I was explaining a problem to Ellie when Mia interrupted and told me ‘you don’t need to mansplain every single detail, stop speaking to her like she’s an idiot.'”
“I was really baffled, because I never have tried to condescend Ellie and Ellie has never told me that she feels like I’m being rude.”
“I mumbled ‘sorry’ to Mia because I didn’t want to escalate the situation and I wasn’t sure what to say.”
“Today, we had an exam, and our teacher allows to have ten minutes of review before tests.”
“Mia pulled up her chair next to me like nothing had happened yesterday, and asked me to explain this one concept to her.”
“I told her that it’s probably best if she asks the teacher, because I don’t want to seem like I’m ‘mansplaining’ her either. She called me a jack*ss and then went to ask another table group for help.”
OP was left to wonder,
Having explained the issue, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some responses were very direct.
“Also she’s using the word wrong.” ~ Eadiacara
“OP, you did right by sticking up for yourself. She can’t expect to be rude to you for helping someone else and then turn around and ask for your help.”
“Apparently, she doesn’t know what ‘natural consequences’ means anymore than she understands the concept of mansplaining.” ~ formidable-opponent
“Mansplaining is explaining something to a woman who already knows it.”
“Not helping someone asking for help. Good lord nta. I’ve been Mansplained to this is not it” ~ Cat_o_meter
“I once stopped at a car dealership on a whim because I saw a used car that caught my eye.”
“I was kind of in the market, but not actively searching.”
“The salesman was telling me about their 183838 point inspection, or whatever it was, for all their used cars.”
‘”We put it on a lift. That’s something that takes it waaaay up into the air so we can see underneath.”‘
“Usually I just let things roll off my back, but this was ridiculous.”
“I told him ‘my vagina doesn’t make me r-slurred.’ (Sorry, it was many years ago and I didn’t know any differently! I don’t use that term now!) And I stormed off.”
“I went home and told my husband, and it’s become one of our ongoing jokes for almost 20 years.”
“I’ll ask how to do something, or how something technical works, and he’ll say ‘well honey, we put the generator (or whatever we’re fixing) on a lift. That takes it waaaay up into the air.’ 😂” ~ IWantALargeFarva
“I once had a male veterinarian, while explaining the instructions for my cat’s medicine, say ‘Your husband can use the syringe to measure out 0.5mL of medicine.”’
“So not only do I not have a husband, I also have a PhD in chemistry and have used hundreds of syringes in my work.”
“He was an elderly man and I didn’t want to be rude but was also totally caught off guard. All I said was, ‘And if I don’t have a husband, is this something that I can do?’ 🤣” ~ carkcoll
Some pointed out that Ellie asked for the help.
“Yup my thought exactly. Mansplaining is real, but it’s not what does, he is just helping a girl who asked for his help.” ~ Jed08
“This is the big thing.”
“It was requested by Ellie.”
“If Ellie has always been happy with the way OP explains things then Mia needs to STFU and keep her opinions to herself and just ask someone else for help if she doesn’t like the way OP explains it.”
“There’s literally a sub here called ‘Explain like I’m 5’ because sometimes even adults need someone to break it down to be so easy even a 5yo can understand it before they get the concept.” ~ littlebitfunny21
Commenters felt Mia was out of line.
“She had it coming.”
“The conversation was between you and Ellie, and Mia decided to take offence.”
“Mia needs help and suddenly you’re ok. You dodged a bullet, as she can use the same mansplaining card AFTER you help her.” ~ Far_Opening2859
“‘as she can use the same mansplaining card AFTER you help her.'”
“If you had asked what her doubt was, and she was vague about the issue.”
“So you decide to go against your instincts to help her out, then she would have just turned around and said something like ‘I didn’t ask you for all that, just explain this”‘.
“Also you are all still teens.”
“She’s at a perfect age to learn about the consequences of her actions, especially on these low stakes issues.” ~ Material-Paint6281
“Accusing someone of mansplaining when their help was requested is a dick move.”
“It’s hard to know the appropriate level of detail to share when teaching something because you don’t know how much the other person already knows.”
“It’s better not to leave steps out or skip details.”
“I also would’ve referred her to the teacher. He’s paid to mansplain that stuff.” ~ Roll-Roll-Roll
“NTA she’s toxic.”
“You were doing nothing wrong helping Ellie and Ellie is obviously okay with coming to you for help and how you explain it to her.”
“Mia stuck her nose in other people’s business and you have no obligation to then help her after she’s attacked you.” ~ herdingcats2020
Some wondered what Ellie thought.
“You don’t HAVE to help other people.”
“I would ask Ellie if she was okay with how you were explaining things to her, if you’d like to keep helping her/if she’s your friend.” ~ Duckieshoes101
“If Ellie didn’t have an issue with how you were explaining things, she would have let you know by either telling you directly or no longer asking you.”
“Assuming you’re not automatically explaining everything to E before she requests your help, you’re not mansplaining.”
“Mansplaining is explaining something with a condescending attitude to a woman/girl unprompted and regardless of their understanding of the subject.”
“It doesn’t sound like that’s what you were doing.” ~ BoundPrincess84
This particular comment really hit on all the points.
“Came here to say this! NTA.”
“Mia put her nose where it didn’t belong, was rude about it, and suffered the consequences.”
“Some people are mad at Ellie for not speaking up but maybe Mia is just an annoying bully and Ellie didn’t want to get into it.”
“We don’t know.”
“I agree to ask Ellie how she feels about it all and go from there, and if she does feel like it was mansplaining at all explain to her your perspective and how you need more specific questions, but you’re happy to help her if she needs it.”
“Communication really resolves so many things.”
“As an aside, many have said Mia is using the term mansplaining incorrectly and I have to agree.”
“Here’s a better example (IMO):”
“I was a bartender in college.”
“Had been for several years at the time of the story at the same pub and waited tables for many years before that.”
“Suffice to say, I was very familiar with restaurant basics.”
“A guy at the bar orders a drink, I make it, and he goes, ‘Can I get a coaster? Ya know one of those little cardboard squares that goes under my drink to soak up condensation?'”
“As if I’ve never heard of a coaster before 🙄 and honestly it wasn’t even that dramatic and as I write it out it’s a pretty small offense, just annoying.”
“Also, he already had a coaster in front of him, the drink just wasn’t on it.”
“Maybe not the best example, but you explaining a concept to someone who asked for an explanation isn’t mansplaining, plain and simple.” ~ br_h_w
We all need help sometimes.
The thing that surprised me most in this article was how few people wanted to know whether Ellie actually felt mansplained to.
Isn’t that the whole point?