A Man Used ChatGPT to Write a Nine-Paragraph Essay Mansplaining My Article To Me

I would just like to reach a point in my life where I am no longer shocked by the lengths some men will go to put women in their place. I’m getting close, but evidently, I’m not there yet.

Last week, I published an article in my column on Psychology Today about the stigma around women’s aging. There was absolutely no lack of clarity about who this article was for. The name of my column is Compassionate Feminism. The title was The Paradox of Women’s Aging. And the entire article was me giving my personal perspective (something I rarely do on Psychology Today) about my own experiences with aging as a woman and the negative stigma and stereotypes around that.

It was abundantly clear that this article was for women.

That said, over the weekend my inbox was flooded with men using the Contact Form on my column (which is meant to be used for business Inquiries) to tell me how my article missed the mark because it didn’t include anything about men’s experiences with aging.

This collective pearl clutching from men who couldn’t stand not being the main character of my article led me to an astonishing conclusion: men won’t let women have anything for ourselves. Not even our own oppression.

Among the emails I received, there was one that stood out among the rest. It was a nine-paragraph essay from a young man who I can only describe as looking like a Utah missionary frat boy (his picture was included with his Google profile). He claimed that he read my article and enjoyed it, but that “there were some significant aspects that seemed to be overlooked.”

I’ll pause for your eyeballs to return from their trip around the inside of your skull.

Now, there was no way for him to know this, but for you dear reader, allow me to point out that articles for Psychology Today cannot exceed 1000 words. That means you have to get good at getting straight to the point, and cannot provide every single caution, preamble, or piece of nuance that might be useful in a full-bodied conversation on the topic. So, from time to time, by necessity, contributors to forums like Psychology Today have to gloss over or completely exclude things that they’d prefer to have in there if it were possible. But this guy’s “critique” of my article didn’t point out shortcomings that I would have agreed on—things that I would have included myself if I’d had the space. The things he pointed out had only two purposes: to depict women as the main problem in their own oppression, and to decry the fact that men weren’t included enough in the article (while also, paradoxically, saying I put too much blame on men).

You can see my full break down if this email, with screenshots included in this TikTok video. But for the TL;DR crowd, here were the main takeaways from his email:

1) women’s issues as they pertain to aging have more to do with “intra-gender conflict,” which, as he spelled out, essentially means that women are naturally competitive with each other. All of our struggles with maintaining a youthful image have nothing to do with men (a claim I did not make in my article) but actually have to do with their innate desire to one-up each other.

2) men have been overly-blamed for our country’s beauty standards, and women really need to take accountability for their part in it.

3) more men die than women in wars. (How this is relevant, I’m still not sure).

4) men also have to deal with stigma as they age and failing to mention their struggles was a major oversight.

5) not enough conversation about Marxism?

6) women are essentially hypergamous and only pursue men with money and power, which ties back to the reason they’re so goddamn competitive with each other.

7) women, of their own free will, post scandalous photos of themselves online, only to gain attention from men and to compete with other women.

His conclusion was that although the article was decent, it didn’t do anything to promote real equality. Take it from him: a young, white, blond haired, blue-eyed, privileged-looking college student. He understands the plight for equality better than us all.

When I posted the screenshots to TikTok, my audience immediately pointed out that it seemed like the essay was written by ChatGPT. And honestly, now that I’ve seen it, I can’t unsee it. They’re right! If you’ve used ChatGPT with any regularity, you know it has its own unique rhythm, tone, cadence, and word choice. Taking a closer look at his email, it is abundantly clear that ChatGPT wrote it.

Now.

Imagine being so insecure in your masculinity and identity in general that an article about women’s aging upset you enough by not including men’s experiences that you felt the need to send the author an email about it.

Then, imagine being so inexperienced and ignorant of the subject area that you can’t even construct your own argument yourself—you have to ask a computer to do it.

And then, when ChatGPT does it badly because you’ve fed it sexist and ignorant prompts, it gives you academic-sounding nonsense that you aren’t informed enough to know is nonsense.

Then sending that email and truly thinking you did something there.

This is the thing about sexism. It comes in many forms. Yes, it comes in the hostile, aggressive, threatening way. But it also comes across more often than we care to talk about in this way: the patronizing pat on the head that says, “ah little lady, great effort! But let me take it from here.”

No man, no matter how educated or enlightened he is on feminist issues and theory, has the range to explain women’s experiences with aging to them. And truly educated and enlightened men would know better anyway. Men who feel the need to put women in their place for daring not to center men in their conversations have some serious introspection to do. Men who haven’t learned that they are no longer the main characters of the universe have some demons to do battle with. And men who feel entitled to mansplain women’s experiences to them from a place of fraudulent authority are in need of a good humbling.

To the good men, the allies: we are begging you to confront this behavior in other men when you see it. We know it’s hard. We know you risk being alienated or teased by the other men in your orbit. But please consider that we put ourselves at that risk every day with men like this, and with far riskier consequences.

Please help us gather your people.


Amber Wardell is a doctor of psychology and author who speaks on women’s issues related to marriage, motherhood, and mental health. Subscribe to the free newsletter to get exclusive content delivered to your inbox and to never miss an upload.

Check out her blog called Compassionate Feminism on Psychology Today to join a feminist conversation centered in openness, empathy, and equity.

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