Continued from a Previous Article
Now, does Jessica Price deserve to be fired?
I want to say no.
It’s a horrible online meltdown that was avoidable and speaks poorly to Price’s character. But, I think 99% of what she said, while not terribly smart, should not result in firing.
But Price said this:
“Don’t expect me to pretend to like you here.”
“You” here is the playerbase of the game on which she works.
You can’t tell the people you’re trying to sell stuff to that you don’t like them. They’ll take their business elsewhere.
What are your options at this point if you’re ArenaNet? You just had an employee tell the fanbase that she doesn’t like them. Publicly. Loudly! She stirred up a mob before saying it, too.
Even if you agree with the rest of what she said, you have to fire her. It doesn’t matter what business you have, you can’t have employees saying they dislike your customers. Period. Optimally, you don’t have employees that are contemptuous of your customers to begin with, but as long as they don’t make it known, what’s the big deal? But once it’s known, you have a problem.
So, it’s wrong to say that the mob got Price fired for two reasons.
One, it defies causation. If Price didn’t have a public meltdown, there would have been no mob. It doesn’t really matter what the mob did because it rose as a direct consequence of her actions.
Second, what Price said got Price fired. No one has to twist her words. She said them in a public space. You can still go look them up.
There is, however, one way in which Jessica Price can be redeemed, in which her reaction becomes a sensible one, and her firing becomes unjust, and that’s if mansplaining is real.
I don’t want to go straight to a dictionary definition, but in order to avoid giving you a straw-manned version of the phrase, I’m going to do just that.
of a man
: to explain something to a woman in a condescending way that assumes she has no knowledge about the topic
So, from this definition, we can glean that there must be something going on between men and women that isn’t normal.
If it was just normal gender relations, we would just call the action in question, “condescension.” And we know that anyone of any gender can be condescending towards anyone else of any gender.
Now, perhaps the term “mansplaining” has more general uses beyond what I’ve outlined here, but I want to be as fair as possible and only use what I can definitely prove.
So, in order for mansplaining to be real, there has to be some sort of anomaly in gender relations that means that otherwise normal, if perhaps rude, interactions gain an additional layer of moral weight because of the gender of the performer and the audience.
If that sounds sexist to you, don’t be alarmed. I think it’s sexist too.
But, here’s my problem: In order to fully make my case, I would have to prove a negative, or at least say something about gender relations that isn’t going to be easy or even possible to prove with hard numbers and graphs. There’s a degree of subjectivity here.
My saving grace is that someone making the opposite argument would face the same problem.
Instead, we could look at the ramifications of the existence of such a thing and try to determine if it is real based on those.
The first ramification is that men have a moral obligation to limit their contributions to discussions even if they think it would help. Personally, I think it’s okay to try to help but ultimately be unhelpful. That’s just bad luck.
What this really means is that there is a moral rule that is only contingent on gender and only applies to people of a certain gender. Which opens the door for other moral rules based solely on gender, or perhaps race, or sexual orientation, or even class.
At which point you have to explain why moral rules shouldn’t apply to everyone.
The second ramification is that there are moral rules based on information that you’re not always going to have.
Again, if you’re generally trying to be helpful, you’re going to end up trying to explain something to someone who already knows it. But in the moment, you didn’t think that they knew it, which is why you did what you did.
So, with the same intent, you could do something morally right or morally wrong and it would be based on factors which are largely out of their control.
At which point you would have to explain why morality should be based on such factors.
At the end of the day, I don’t think “mansplaining” is defensible without jumping through a lot of mental hoops, quickly followed up by a complete upheaval of morality itself.
There’s one more big problem with alleging mansplaining. It provides an easy out of a conversation or debate without actually engaging with the ideas that the other party has. While it’s often difficult to clearly know a person’s intent, it’s conceivable that a woman could use mansplaining as a way to “win” arguments without having to make any claims in their own favor. If you can undermine someone’s argument just based on their gender, you have a very powerful tool. In theory, you could stop conversation between the sexes altogether.
And that isn’t right because it isn’t something that we can apply to all genders fairly.
So, while I think I’ve presented a lot of reasons why mansplaining isn’t real, I think it’s more important that you come away from this article believing that mansplaining shouldn’t real because if it was it would open a very dangerous Pandora’s box of potential consequences.
Let’s not do that.
Let’s come up with a plan. One that isn’t sexist or racist, but instead focuses on the content of the argument. Otherwise, you end up looking at someone’s immutable characteristics. Which was something that I’m pretty sure we’re weren’t supposed to do, anyway.