In the image, a man and a woman stand in an art gallery observing an abstract painting. The woman grimaces, and in the caption, she says, “I said, ‘I wonder what it means,’ not ‘tell me what it means.’”
When the New Yorker shared McPhail’s image on its Facebook page, many men were quick to mansplain how mansplaining isn’t real, or tried to separate the image from its obvious statement about a gendered topic. One commenter wrote, “Not gender related. One person wonders, & another compassionately assists,” and another wrote, “Her companion may only speak when invited? It’s sexist to volunteer an opinion?”
That’s just the thing, though. As the cartoon suggests, when women want “compassionate assisting” or “volunteered opinions,” they’ll ask for them.
The mansplain cartoon is not the first of McPhail’s images to make a bold statement about gender dynamics. In October of 2016, the artist published a cartoon featuring a man who is offended by a woman breastfeeding her baby. And just like his more recent work, the cartoon is both incredibly simple and devastatingly accurate:
McPhail’s cartoon will be featured in this week’s New Yorker, on newsstands now.