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Sweden launches ‘mansplaining’ hotline for women workers

The project will offer advice and guidance to workers who feel patronised by male colleagues

A Swedish union has now launched a “mansplaining” hotline, in an effort to raise awareness of the condescending chat women are regularly forced to face in the workplace.

The temporary service was set up on Monday (November 14) by Unionen. It will reportedly be open between 10am and 4pm every day this week, with calls being answered by a mixed-gender group of experts, politicians, academics and authors. 

“Our objective is to contribute to awareness and start a discussion which we hope will be the first step in changing the way we treat each other and talk about each other in the workplace,” union spokeswoman Jennie Zetterström told The New York Times. “It’s important to create awareness about how seemingly small things that we do or say add up to a larger issue.”

As a term, ‘Mansplaining’ is generally attributed to scenarios where men explain things – typically to a woman – in a condescending manner. The hotline will offer advice and guidance to workers who feel shut down or patronised by male colleagues, and will be open to all genders.

“Obviously not all men subject all women to mansplaining all of the time. That would be an absurd assertion and not based in reality,” said Peter Tai Christensen, one of the gender experts taking part in the project. “But enough women are subjected to it by enough men for it to be a problem that warrants being addressed, discussed and resolved.”

The hotline has sparked a heated debate on the Unionen Facebook page; with many accusing the project of widening the gender gap and encouraging “negative” and “polarising” dialogue. “People wonder why right-wing populism is on the rise. You. Are. Retarded,” wrote one commenter.

“Our intention has never been to point fingers or blame all men, our intention has simply been to spark an interest and start a debate at our work places and in society,” defended Zetterström. “Of course it’s regretful if someone feels offended.”