You would think that the man who interrupted Lara Sharp while she was reading by the pool would've got the hint that she didn't want to be disturbed, especially considering the fact that she was reading Men Explain Things To Me. However, much like the mansplainers that Rebecca Solnit criticises in her bestselling book, this older gentleman at the pool simply didn't get it.
Lara was so taken aback by this man's perfect display of mansplaining, which the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as a man talking condescendingly to someone (especially a woman) about something he has incomplete knowledge of but still assumes he knows more about, that she took notes throughout their conversation. She posted details from the painful encounter in a Facebook post that's since gone viral because it is irony at its finest.
Laura explained that their interaction first began when the older male approached her lounge chair and asked what the book she was reading was about. Laura began to answer that it's a book about how men explain things to women when he cut her off midsentence. "Oh, so it's a book about men mentoring women!" the man declared.
When she tried to clarify, the man quickly stopped again, this time asking whether she has kids or works (because doing both is obviously not an option in his mind). As soon as Laura started to say that she writes, the man assumed that this "young lady" must write for a women's magazine or about herself, because that's what "most women do."
Each time the man referred to her as "young lady," Laura clarified by responding, "I'm 47 years old." Unfortunately, the man missed that point as well and instead offered to help with the book he assumed she was writing about herself.
"I'd be happy to mentor you! I'm retired. I've got plenty of time to mentor a young lady," the man said.
Laura asked if he retired from the publishing industry since he was so eager to help her grow her book. "Publishing? No, heavens no. I owned a chain of corner stores."
He later explained that he didn't even sell magazines at his corner stores but that he is still the perfect person to mentor this "young lady" in the publishing world. "Well, young lady, selling magazines in a corner store has nothing to do with the publishing industry. Consider that your first lesson!" he said, to which Laura offered him the copy of Men Explain Things to Me so he could learn about mansplaining. "Oh, no . . . Thanks, young lady, you can keep your book. I've never been much of a reader . . ."
With that precious nugget, Laura told the man that she was going to write down the details from their conversation and he was thrilled. After watching her type and being impressed with how fast she could use her thumbs, the man offered to take her to dinner to get her writing career "on track" and keep her from having to think too hard. "I've got a lot of connections. I can do anything! Call me! You should put a photo of yourself in that bikini on the cover of the book!" he said. "I bet you didn't even think of that!"
Before leaving, the man asked for her name and Laura told him that it was Gloria Steinem. "You're a good girl! You know, this pool is usually just full of nothing but old ladies. Not young girls, like you," he said. And it just gets so much worse. He then added, "I'm going to think of a new last name for you. Something less Jewish sounding. It'll be better for your career! We can talk about at dinner! Be a good girl, Gloria!"
He rejected her suggestion of Betty Friedan and insisted that he would figure out a better name for her. "Don't worry, Gloria, OK?! I know how to take care of everything, young lady!"
After he finally left, Rachel finished writing everything down (with both of her thumbs), ordered noise-cancelling headphones from Amazon, and threw herself into the deep end of the pool to wash this awful encounter off of her.