Thanks to the internet, communication around the world can occur in the blink of an eye. People are more empowered than ever before to share their knowledge, thoughts, and feelings because of the accessibility of social media, for better or for worse. Sometimes that means a clueless dude feeling empowered to talk utter nonsense, then defend his blatant ignorance as advocacy or something. And sometimes that means that fool will be dragged, relentlessly and brilliantly.
Today we bring you the astonishing arrogance and ignorance of Paul Bullen.
It all began with a tweet from The Guardian.
The correct word is vagina.— Paul Bullen (@paulbullen) February 10, 2019
The correct word is “vulva.” The article is about a body-positive photo series of vulvas. Maybe Paul didn’t click through before publicly correcting a respected news source. Maybe he doesn’t understand the difference between vagina and vulva. Neither thing stopped him from tweeting his factually inaccurate correction. Thankfully, the internet is here to help.
Hi, I am a gynecologist and an international expert on both the vagina and vulva. These are vulvas. I wrote this post with a handy Venn diagram to help people separate the two! Enjoy 😉 https://t.co/nMFVeVHkya— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) February 10, 2019
Well. Actually. https://t.co/Fn2mW7hze1— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) February 10, 2019
Dude it’s a vulva and you’re an idiot.— Maeve Marsden (@maevemarsden) February 11, 2019
The correct words are “I shouldn’t mansplain female anatomy, especially since I am wrong and google exists” pic.twitter.com/rNjvcfk0w5— Border Coyote =/\= (@NeonShines) February 11, 2019
this is what happens when you raise white boys to think society exists for them.— Eden Cheung (@edennnnnn) February 11, 2019
it's like watching someone who has no idea how to fight try to start a confrontation and immediately get smashed. why would you be so confident when it's obvious you have no idea what to do?
There were many, many more responses as Paul got ratioed with giggling gifs like this one.
Still, Paul would not back down. In fact, he doubled down in an extraordinary way.
That’s an incorrect use of the word mansplaining. :-). Not that I want to legitimize the term, but by its own definition it requires more than just having just a man who is explaining something. Even if some in the audience are women.— Paul Bullen (@paulbullen) February 10, 2019
Dude just mansplained mansplaining, and fittingly he did so in a way that shows he doesn’t understand its definition either! But Paul wasn’t done.
I am supporting widespread female usage, as in the Vagina Monologues. I am defending how actual people speak.— Paul Bullen (@paulbullen) February 11, 2019
Responding to the gynecologist from above, he argued:
1/1 This question does not require that sort of expertise. In fact, it could be part of the problem: I am speaking about ordinary language, not technical terms. What I am saying has a descriptive component and a normative one. The descriptive one you are acknowledging by saying..— Paul Bullen (@paulbullen) February 10, 2019
I’m cutting off this four-part mansplanation from Paul because you get the idea, and besides this response to his is more relevant.
Follow the chart, Paul, and let me know where you end up. pic.twitter.com/y8WodEclw7— William Pietri (@williampietri) February 11, 2019
Despite being deluged by responses that called Paul out on his error and stubbornness, he continued to respond to replies, always insisting he’s right and you just don’t get it. Among a long, long list, here are a few lowlights.
I’m actually defending the common female usage.— Paul Bullen (@paulbullen) February 11, 2019
I may I have many faults, but at least I'm polite. And I treat other people with respect. And if I am wrong in this case, it's a question…— Paul Bullen (@paulbullen) February 10, 2019
If your definition of “polite” includes ridiculously mansplaining anatomical terms to doctors, and feeling the need to correct publications on their uses of the same terms, sure.— Rachael French (@DrRachaelF) February 10, 2019
It is neither polite nor respectful to correct erroneously how someone refers to their own genitalia.— LCMKT (@wyrdsystyr) February 10, 2019
Nope, you told women what "the correct word" is, wrongly. The article was not about "vagina" being incorrect; you were vainly pedantic - both in the sense of betraying your vanity, and "correcting" in vain.— LCMKT (@wyrdsystyr) February 11, 2019
Gaslighting translation: "They're fact checking my ass. I can't admit that I was wrong. This is insufferable."— bluebird (@nopenopenope_88) February 11, 2019
Now, some of you might wonder who is Paul Bullen and why should we care what he says? According to his Twitter bio, he’s an editor, writer, teacher, and researcher, presumably not in gynecology. He’s got 115 followers, and so is pretty small fish in the big pond of Twitter. But why Paul’s Twitter debacle matters is because it speaks to a wider phenomenon of toxic masculinity.
Paul has no credentials on and not even a basic understanding of female anatomy, and yet he took on hundreds of cis-women, a gynecologist, and a news organization to argue he knows better than them. Once faced with a flood of dissent, it seems he finally maybe possibly realized he might be wrong! But instead of admitting his mistake or deleting his tweet, he tried to claim the moral high road by suggesting at least HE wasn’t rude! As if mansplaining isn’t rude! As if he’s superior because he didn’t say everyone who argued with him is an idiot but just implied it with a condescending tone!
Paul is subscribing to an ideology that values male viewpoints over female ones at all costs. (That’s called misogyny, Paul!) So, to protect his ego and his worldview, he’s decided he was never the problem. The real problem is all those people who don’t understand that he’s right and an ally, really. I mean, he’s heard of The Vagina Monologues. What else do you want from him?
You mansplained a female gynecologist, you still have the chance to admit you're wrong and learn from this.— Claudia Lomelí🌸 (@TheClauLomeli) February 11, 2019
Who am I kidding? You're a middle aged white man arguing with women that you know more about their own genitals, you'll never be better. pic.twitter.com/oUBAQOFdOt
The header image is from Netflix’s Big Mouth.