casual sexism

Sean Lennon Thinks the Term “Mansplaining” Is Sexist

Photo: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows

There’s nothing like a good Twitter fight over semantics. Sean Lennon is currently embroiled in a social media brouhaha over everyone’s favorite portmanteau, mansplaining.

Why, you might ask, would the son of one of the most prominent and influential feminists in the world poke this particular hornet’s nest?

Here’s a quick rundown. Elizabeth le Fey, a musician who performs under the moniker Globelamp, called for people to boycott the Desert Daze festival because the band Foxygen is booked to perform.

Le Fey used to be in Foxygen, and she used to date the lead singer, Sam France; she also alleges that France physically abused her. The band’s history with le Fey is messy and complicated, and it includes “a 32-page restraining order that prohibited [le Fey] from encountering France’s entire family, both parents and siblings, until January 22, 2019.” Le Fey also posted on Instagram an older photo of herself with a bruised lip, although this isn’t the first time that le Fey has shared the photo on social media. According to a lengthy feature in Impose magazine, she tweeted the same picture in August 2014, just ahead of the release of Foxygen’s new album (and an album she’d been erased from) …And Star Power. “The picture dates back to their relationship, before the restraining order. The image never goes viral. Foxygen are merely criticized for releasing an obtuse record, conflicted in its flimsy conceit,” the feature reads.

On September 7, le Fey tweeted, “Sean Lennon private messaging me to shut up about the abuse I’ve been through because his friend is running Desert Daze….uhhh.” Lennon wrote in a now-deleted tweet, “I know that if Jimi Hendrix had slapped his GF boycotting Woodstock would be ridiculous!” (Le Fey screengrabbed it and posted it on Instagram; she is keeping all of her receipts.) Things have definitely gone downhill from there, with le Fey and Lennon posting lengthy notes to each other on Instagram and Lennon retweeting followers who have joined the le Fey pile-on. Lennon also tweeted screenshots of his direct messages to le Fey, in which he writes a bunch of stuff about how complicated these things get and “innocent til proven guilty” just like with “the Kesha stuff.”

Anyway! Lennon mansplained explained what he meant to a curious follower, writing that the term is sexist “[b]ecause it is derogatory to one gender. The only reason anything is ever sexist.”

Yep, that’s definitely the only reason anything is ever sexist.

Sean Lennon Thinks the Term “Mansplaining” Is Sexist