Sweden’s popular Mansplaining Hotline blew up — with calls from curious men.

Adam Falklind noticed something weird happening whenever he would go rock climbing with his spouse at the gym.

His partner, Ylva, would get odd comments thrown her way. Even though she had been an avid rock climber for seven years, a lot of people at the gym would talk to her like a newbie. The remarks, Falklind noticed, seemed to come from one specific type of person: dudes.

Many of the guys who felt a need to chime in — mainly the "big biceps kind," as Falklind describes them — assumed she needed some extra help getting up the wall. They assumed wrong.


"They will say [to her], 'Oh no, you have to do it like this,’" says Falklind. "When actually, she’s the one that has better technique and footwork.”

When the outdoorsy couple, who live in Sweden, have gone on scuba diving adventures, Richert encountered the same sort of unsolicited comments from guys there, too.

Adam Falklind and Ylva Richert on a diving trip. Photo via Adam Falklind, used with permission.

So what gives?

A few weeks ago, Falklind spotted a post on Facebook that put a name to this weird phenomenon: mansplaining.

It's not officially a real word (yet). But "mansplaining" (a term coined after Rebecca Solnit's 2008 essay "Men Explain Things To Me") is one that Merriam-Webster has been keeping a close eye on lately:

Mansplaining is "what occurs when a man talks condescendingly to someone (especially a woman) about something he has incomplete knowledge of, with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he's talking to does."

This was it — the thing Falklind's spouse had been dealing with from male divers and rock climbers alike.

The Facebook post Falklind spotted was promoting a Mansplaining Hotline, launched by Unionen, Sweden's largest workers' union. It was meant for both men and women across the country to call in to vent, ask questions, and — most importantly — start conversations about mansplaining and other forms of harassment as they exist in their own workspace.

As a guy, Falklind was curious: How prevalent is mansplaining? How can it be avoided? And was he a perpetrator without even realizing it?

He decided to give it a ring. “I wanted to dig a little deeper," he says, noting he had discussed it with Richert before phoning in. “I felt like I wanted to know more about this."

Photo via Adam Falklind, used with permission.

He definitely wasn't alone.

According to Unionen, the Mansplaining Hotline blew up. 60% of the callers — believe it or not — were men.

"It exceeded our expectations — by far," says Gabriel Wernstedt, a Unionen press officer.

The hotline was slammed with hundreds of calls throughout the five-day span it operated in mid-November, with news of the service spreading as far as Ireland, India, Australia, and the U.S.

Many women who called in felt a great sense of relief, says Christina Knight, an expert on gender who helped answer calls. They learned they weren't alone or being overly sensitive about their condescending coworkers; they finally had a word to refer to what they were experiencing at the individual level.

Among men, however, some were irritated, feeling as though this whole mansplaining concept was some sort of personal, gendered attack against them.

Those male callers were in the minority, though. "In many men," Knight explains, "it brought to their attention a phenomenon they might not even have been aware of. It evoked an interest and a desire to try and understand and avoid mansplaining."

One man in his 30s, for instance, hoped to give some good feedback to his young nephews in order to stomp out a potential future generation of mansplainers, Knight recalls. Another man — the head of his department at work — specifically asked for tips on how to avoid being that guy in a managerial role, since he often had to train his employees, Wernstedt says.

“I asked, ‘How can I help myself?’” Falklind recalls of his own chat with a hotline operator. “It awoke a lot of interesting reflections in me.”

Photo via Adam Falklind, used with permission.

Wernstedt was careful to note that women can also be condescending toward others, of course, and that the point of the hotline was about people of all genders being more proactive in fighting for change — not pitting genders against one another.

But there is a reason why this phenomenon has been dubbed mansplaining, after all: Men do seem more likely to want to exhibit control and strut their knowledge at the office, Wernstedt says. And that's part of the reason why this sneaky form of sexism exists in far too many workplaces around the world.

The best piece of advice hotline workers gave men who called in was simple: Listen.

Hotline operators — volunteers in various career fields who all had some expertise in workplace harassment, like Knight — were happy to lend a helping hand. "Asking questions and listening is an easy way to have a dialogue instead of a monologue," Knight notes.

The best way for men to avoid mansplaining is to be more cognizant of their own behavior, she says — stop "going on autopilot," simply assuming something needs to be taught. Instead, show a genuine interest in and respect for the women you work with by listening and responding to them. Or, as Wernstedt puts it, understand why "we have two ears and one mouth.”

Falklind, who's well aware he's likely mansplained at some point or another, knows he's a work in progress.

“It’s hard to admit when you’re wrong in any situation, despite gender," he says. "It’s something that I try to work on every day."

Photo via Adam Falklind, used with permission.

As far as all the hoopla around the hotline ... does it mean there will be another one down the road? Possibly, says Wernstedt. But Unionen is still climbing out from under the overwhelming responses to this one, which ended nearly two weeks ago.

“We’re still amazed by the interest," he says.

It seems the world could use quite a few more Mansplaining Hotlines — there's certainly no shortage of men with an urge to pick up the phone and dial in.

Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

True

"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

via 1POCNews / Twitter

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