On November 16, Sweden’s largest worker’s union, Unionen, set up a temporary hotline where users can call in to talk about ‘mansplaining’. The hotline, which will end this week, has run from 10 am to 4 pm and has been manned by 20 men and women who are gender experts, authors, academics and others. The aim of the campaign was to raise awareness about workplace sexism.
A quick reminder on mansplaining: It is a word used to describe the way in which a man can sometimes explain things to a woman in a manner that seems patronising, and assumes a woman’s ignorance.
“Our objective is to contribute to awareness and start a discussion which we hope will be the first step in changing the way we treat each other and talk about each other in the workplace,” Jennie Zetterström, a union spokeswoman, told the New York Times.
Christina Knight, one of the women manning the phones, told CNN that many men have called in to ask her how they can identify whether they have been engaging in ‘mansplaining’ behaviour.
The union also created a Facebook page and Instagram account where they post small illustrated stories that depict how ‘mansplaining’ is prevalent in the workplace.
The campaign has received a lot of backlash. Many men think such a campaign unnecessarily points fingers at their gender, and the hotline has received many calls from men who aren’t afraid of pointing this out. Unionen’s social media pages have also been awash with negative comments.
“Of course it’s regretful if someone feels offended. On the other hand, the lively debate shows that this is an important topic to discuss. Awareness is the first step towards change,” Zetterstrom said to CNN.
So what do you think? Does India need a ‘mansplaining’ hotline?