Mansplaining the Burning Tissue of the Day: Giving that Man a Hand

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Mansplaining the Burning Tissue of the Day: Giving that Man a Hand

One of the burning tissues of the day is whether or not 'man-size tissues' are sexist: After careful consideration I've come to the conclusion that as they are marketed as being 'man-size' and not 'only for men' then semantically the answer is 'no' (though I agree that they're doing the right thing in renaming.)

Many things come in different sizes; if, say, you go to the chippy and ask for 'Small-size chips', you're given fewer chips than if you ask for large-size chips. The person behind the counter does not say, 'Sorry, Small Chips are only available for small people, oh and Heather Small. I've looked at you and you personally can only buy Obese-size Chips'. Similarly if you go to a cafe and ask for a 'Regular-size tea ' you are given a normal size cup of tea , the person behind the counter does not ask you to produce a doctor 's note certifying that you are, in fact, regular.

So what exactly does 'man-size' mean?

The English language is a hodgepodge of different linguistic influences, with the strongest being Germanic (from the Anglo Saxons) and Latin (from the Normans). The word 'man' has two distinct origins:

  • It is Germanic for either 'person' (so for example a lady from Germany named 'Amanda Mandy Manfredd' is a German Human member of Mankind while remaining female) or, more often, 'adult male'.
  • It also has a Latin origin meaning 'hand' (hence manicure – care for hand, manacles – handcuffs, manoeuvre – steer by hand, manuscript – written by hand, mansplaining – provide a handy explanation, etc.)

Therefore a 'man-size' tissue either means a tissue the size of a hand, or a tissue the size of a person, presumably an adult male.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the average adult male1 is 5'9" tall. A 'man-size' tissue is definitely not 5'9". I mean I've heard of shrinkflation, but there's no way it can be considered either 'adult male sized' – or 'adult female sized' come to that. The tissues are even noticeably smaller than earth 's smallest ever adult male who, according to the Guinness Book of Records, was Chandra Bahadur Dangi of Nepal at a height of 1 foot 9½. So we can discount that 'man-size tissues' means the size of an adult, whether male or female.

In fact a 'man-size' tissue is pretty much the size of a hand, and hand-size tissues are, well, handy.

Next time: I'll be investigating why mini-Smarties are not the size of Mini Coopers, and asking why the manufacturers of 'fun-size' chocolate are having much less fun than they used to, and can we seriously increase the dosage of their anti-depressants?

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1Ed.Note: We assume this is the average British male.

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