Ask Una is a satire column in which we ask those burning wedding questions we know you’re thinking about but are too afraid to put in writing. So we did it for you. Seriously (we’re not serious).
Wedding planning was going great until my fiancé and I sat down with our caterer this weekend. All of a sudden my formerly sweet and seemingly feminist boyfriend was mansplaining every item on the menu, telling me what I would or wouldn’t like without asking, and even confidently asserting his mispronunciation of açai after both the (female) caterer and I corrected him. Should I be worried?
My first question is, what are you serving that has açai in it, and are you sure it’s a good idea? At weddings, guests generally want to get tipsy and eat appetizers made of various cheeses wrapped in puff pastry until they can summon the energy to waddle onto the dance floor for a halfhearted twerk to “Hot in Herre.” They’re not looking for a full-body detox.
Now, you see, what I did there was explain something I wasn’t certain you understood. But because I am a woman, it would commonly be referred to as “bitching” or “nagging.” And therein lies your, my, and frankly all of society’s dilemma.
Women typically explain things to men in order to solve problems (i.e. “You know, you can toss that empty beer can into the recycling bin, which is literally right underneath the kitchen counter where you routinely leave it, as if cartoon elves will come out at night and put it in its rightful place.”) Men, on the other hand, often explain things to women to assert dominance. I don’t believe that mansplaining is intentional; rather, it’s the unfortunate byproduct of centuries in which men have been repeatedly told they are the smarter and more rational sex (in related news, 88 percent of winners of the Darwin Awards—given posthumously to people who die in such idiotic ways as to protect the future of the species by preventing the spread of their genes—are male).
You say that your fiancé has not exhibited this behavior in the past, so I suspect that this case of mansplaining was brought on either by acute stress or an unchecked Food Network habit. Assuming he doesn’t secretly idolize Bobby Flay or—less ideally—Guy Fieri, I suspect that your future husband may have found himself, upon being asked to select finger foods and wine pairings for your coming nuptials, face to face with the reality of the situation for the very first time. Studies have shown that men tend to disengage under stress, which could explain why he chose to self-soothe by loudly extolling the merits of Kobe beef.
Try talking with your fiancé when he’s in a good mood and preferably not staring down a cheese plate. Find out if he really cares about whether you serve ranch or balsamic dressing with the veggie kebabs, or if he’s simply nervous at the prospect of being the center of such an enormous event. Femsplain to him that you will be there with him every step of the way. And then passive-aggressively send him a link to a YouTube pronunciation tutorial.
After all, love means never having to say açai.
Una LaMarche has written four young-adult novels, Five Summers, Like No Other, Don't Fail Me Now, and You in Five Acts, as well as a comic essay collection, Unabrow. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Observer, Allure, and Parents, and online at the Huffington Post. The New York Times has called her writing “surprisingly seductive,” which she plans to use on her tombstone.