A reader of my story about pop culture and the rise of “mensesplaining”—women enlightening men about menstruation—raises some good objections to the term:
I think that the new exploration of periods and the general increase in openness about the topic is really great, as it’s just a biological process, but I don’t think that using the term mensesplaining to explain women’s explanations of their periods to men is at all helpful. Mansplaining is when a man unnecessarily explains something to a woman, automatically assuming that she does not know what he is detailing for her. Mensesplaining, on the other hand, is explaining a concept to men that they have never experienced and will never experience, and therefore “need” an explanation for.
There is no way for men to understand the pain of period cramps, or the ever-present fear of having a blood stain on your butt, but there is a way for women to know the history of Joy Division. Equating mansplaining to mensesplaining associates a negative connotation to the explanation of menstrual cycles that combats the initial purpose of having to explain them/the subsequent explanation of them in the first place. We need to reach a place in society where women don’t need to feel like they can’t talk about the fact that they’re on their period, that we feel like we need to hide our tampon as we carry it into the bathroom to go change, that men accuse all “emotionally volatile” women as “being on their period.” Men do need to understand, and women explaining their period to them is not unnecessary, but mansplaining is.