All Lara B. Sharp wanted to do last Wednesday was read by the pool. But the title of the book she was reading, paired with the fact that she was a woman in public, made her a victim to some unsolicited mansplaining.
Sharp, a New York-based writer whose long Facebook posts often centre around social issues, was reading Men Explain Things To Me, Rebecca Solnit’s best-selling book of essays, when she says she had an interaction with an older man that honestly seems too good (well, bad) to be true. Sharp said she typed the entirety of their conversation as it was happening on her Notes app, and shared the story with her Facebook followers.
“Scene: Pool, balding man, maybe 65 or 70 years old, with blue, bloodshot eyes, drinking from a bottle of Ensure, wearing designer swim trunks, which are half hidden under a huge, extremely brown, beer belly,” she wrote.
The man, whose name Sharp later revealed to be John, apparently approached her and asked: “What’s that you’re reading, young lady?”
Sharp ― who’s 47 years old and reminds the man of this multiple times throughout their conversation ― went on to tell him what she was reading, and that she’s a writer. Upon seeing the title of the book, Sharp said that John assumed that she was reading “a book about men mentoring women!”
Anyone who’s ever read Men Explain Things To Me could have told the gentleman that its most famous essay is about arrogant men and their inability to fathom that women might know as much, if not more, than they do ― but the man had no interest in listening.
Check out Sharp’s entire post below.
(TL;DR ― man thinks middle-aged woman needs mentorship from him even though he has no experience in her industry whatsoever, refuses to let her talk, objectifies her repeatedly, and refers to her as “young lady” throughout.)
Sharp’s post went viral over the weekend, with more than 39,000 likes and 15,000 shares. She told HuffPost that she is “very surprised, and extremely flattered” by the number of people with whom her post has resonated.
“I’m just a middle-aged, menopausal woman, who writes about her life, on her Facebook page,” she said.
To that end, though, she’s “not at all surprised that so many women could relate” to her experience. “We all know John,” she said.
One silver lining of her experience was that one of those 15,000 shares was Solnit herself. The two women had a conversation when Solnit shared her post, and it apparently left Sharp pretty starstruck.
“I’m a HUGE Fan of your work,” Sharp told Solnit in the comment thread.
Solnit responded, “And I just enjoyed yours immensely!”
Don’t worry, Lara ― we’d be starstruck too.