Writing tip: Adding “man-” turns your complaint into a take

Women manspreading.

Yesterday, Twitter user and self-described strategic analyst Eric Garland posted a long, threaded rant about the condition of contemporary politics. It began with this tweet:

As you can see, it’s pretty popular. I came across it when it was shared by Clara Jeffery, editor of Mother Jones, who likened it to the Federalist Papers. She’s clearly the expert, but I disagree with her assessment. Garland doesn’t advance a point so much as vent his frustration. You can read the whole million-tweet thread on this Google doc, thoughtfully assembled by Libby Watson. It digresses. A wag might summarize his argument as “What is game theory?” But over at Gizmodo, Alana Hope Levinson takes issue with the <THREAD> part. Men, she admonishes, Please Stop Manthreading:

There is this thing that people (mostly men) love to do on Twitter, something other than harass women and send DMs of their half chubs. It’s called threading, and it’s one of the many things ruining my Twitter experience.

That last sentence is great, and I bet she meant it as a joke. Still, maybe it’s just because my gender requires me to think about few other problems, but I don’t like what Levinson is doing, here. You can attach “man” to any complaint about annoying public behavior and turn it into a take. Every writer knows this. But we have sworn in the darkened chambers of our society never to abuse it, the same way Masons promise not to kill anyone with a trowel.

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