In the season-three finale of Broad City, Abbi and Ilana find themselves, via participation in the “Birthmarc” program, on a plane to Israel. Early on in the episode, in mid-air, Abbi gets her period. From there, the rest of the finale’s plot revolves around the pair’s airborne quest to find Abbi a tampon. It’s an effort, Abbi and Ilana being Abbi and Ilana, that comes with many, many jokes about the circumstances they’ve found themselves in thanks to Abbi’s uterus. “Ooof, first day. That’s, like, putting your spoon into a molten lava cake,” Ilana says.
“It’s like the first bite of a jelly donut,” Abbi counters.
“It’s like a side of chutney.”
“It’s like fruit on the bottom.”
The exchange—rapid-fire, unapologetically graphic, unrelentingly hilarious—is yet more evidence that pop culture, which for so long has treated periods as the stuff of shame and taboo, is now insistently de-stigmatizing them. Periods have recently been so popular a topic of cultural exploration that 2015, NPR argued, was “the year of the period”—also known as the year, per Cosmopolitan, that “the period went public.”
But periods have not merely been the subjects of exploration. They have also been the subjects of explanation: women, newly given a voice in the culture at large, explaining to men what it’s like to have a period—jelly donuts and fruit on the bottom and all. Call it mensesplaining: the dynamics of mansplaining (men explaining things to women, usually extremely unnecessarily), reversed. Women enlightening men about something (most) guys will never experience themselves.