Vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s iron-pumping glamour shots and refusal to go into detail about his tax plan and beliefs about abortion created a perfect storm for the Mainsplaining Ryan meme, in which a pouting, backwards cap-wearing Wisconsin congressman interrupts you, hand out, to say condescendingly oversimplified things like, “Bigger tax refunds mean more shoe shopping. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” It’s not exactly surprising to see this tendency, common to politicians and libertarian ex-boyfriends alike, in Ryan. His running mate, after all, is a noted mansplainer. But who could have predicted how self-fulfilling this meme-as-prophecy would be?
Ryan’s debate performance offered a bounty of patronizing expositions, from his “it’s not a voucher” explanation of Medicare to his excessive demonstration of the pronunciation of Afghan proper nouns like Haqqani, Quetta, Zabul, and Kunar. Although the tangential monologue on the definition of “fighting season” might have been Ryan’s most egregious example of mansplaining (“Let me bring some — let me try and illustrate the issue here, because I think this — it can get a little confusing.” No, not at all, but thank you for your concern), his personal story about a fetus named Bean is the meme-makers’ favorite.