The Hobart

Mainsplaining Explained

by Carla Grossetti
Mainsplaining Explained

The irony is not lost on Sydney-based journalist Carla Grossetti as she investigates the colloquial usage of the term ‘mainsplaining’ using her ‘big island’ expertise.

At the time this issue went to print, the word ‘mainsplaining’ was un-Googleable. But if you bandy the colloquial term about offline in Tasmania, you would most certainly be met with a knowing nod.

The verb is a subtle variation on the Urban Dictionary-defined slang word ‘mansplaining’ (a man stating facts to a woman in a way that is condescending), but the patronising superiority in this case is being delivered to a Taswegian by an Australian from the mainland. For the purposes of this story, consider the mainlander to be somewhat of a natterjack (a curiously pop-eyed toad) who hops about the island of Tasmania comparing things with how they are in Melbourne or Sydney. It was during an interview with Massimo Mele a few months ago that this journalist first heard the term when the chef slotted it into their conversation. Mele, who recently moved back to Tasmania after years working at award-winning restaurants in Sydney, disclosed he had to look upon himself rather critically after he was branded, in no uncertain terms, a mainsplainer. “There is no doubt about it, I arrived in Tasmania with a Sydney mentality,” says the chef who is now the food director at Launceston’s Grain of the Silos. “I arrived back and quickly realised that Tasmanians don’t care for people to come from Melbourne or Sydney and tell them how to do things. I very quickly figured out that I needed to develop relationships in order to make Tasmania my home rather than tell locals how I think they should be doing things,” he says.

Making it into the modern lexicon
Mele says he first heard the word ‘mainsplaining’ used by Sara Shepherd, project manager at Bruny Island Cheese & Beer Company. After being accused in no uncertain terms of being a ‘mainsplainer’, Shepherd says she made an implicit promise to herself to clue people up about the practise and stop bludgeoning Taswegians with her ‘big island’ prowess, “I am from country Victoria and I have worked at Bruny Island Cheese & Beer Company for about 18 months. I now live on a little island off an island off the big island and I am definitely still stuck with the mainland mindset. It’s something I have to shake off,” she says. “The first time I was accused of mainsplaining it was after telling someone that everything happens so much faster in the big cities. Although I was shocked to be tagged a ‘mainsplainer’, it’s made me more self-aware about it ever since. It’s now my mission to make mainlanders aware of what they are doing when they visit or move to Tasmania,” she says. Shepherd says most mainlanders act as if they are more intelligent than Taswegians and that denizens of the island state are somehow backward. She says the Bruny Island Cheese & Beer Company have even named one of their export lagers, The Mainlander. “Do I think I will ever stop mainsplaining? Well, yes. Especially after getting a phone call like this,” she laughs. ■

Email us and share when you first heard the colloquial usage of this word so we can argue for its inclusion in the Urban Dictionary. #mainsplaining

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May 2024

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