On my mom’s side of the family, they have this crazy system of segregating menstruating women. So intense is the entire process that the instant a woman starts menstruating, the entire family of 16 knows about it. And while there’s no issue with people knowing about your periods, the problem starts with the crazy untouchability that a menstruating woman has to undergo in that household. You can’t enter the kitchen, you get your own food or water and you can't even touch people for that matter.
Tired of the entire charade, I once asked my sister-in-law about the logic behind all this ludicrousness. ‘Even we don’t understand but I think...’ she had just started answering when she was interrupted by my cousin (her husband). He explained (read mansplained), "You are taking it wrong. Don’t think of this as discrimination. What she’s trying to say is that we do this because we want you all to take some rest during those days. You all go through so much pain and all and that’s why this practice helps you take a break from the regular chores." I mean don’t even get me started on the highly problematic mindset! However, what irked me the most was how casually my cousin interrupted my sister-in-law as he went on explaining to us about periods! Men with no semblance of authority on the topic of menstruation trying to school us about it...infuriating, right? But then again it is an everyday story.
Most of us must have dealt with men explaining the most basic things to us at some point or the other, or taking over our narratives for they assume that they can explain something better than us. Mansplaining happens everywhere and is more common than you'd like to believe. My mind keeps going back to Jaipur Literature Fest 2018 when Vinod Dua went on mansplaining illustrious women like Nandita Das and Sheila Dixit on topics that they had years of expertise on.
Also remember, that scene from Friends when Rachel had to shut down Ross with "No uterus, no opinion" as he tried passing on his two cents on childbirth? Well, if only more of us start doing that in real life! That said, calling out mansplaining is also a part of building a counter-discourse and a woman recently did the task through a Twitter thread. Recollecting her own experience with mansplaining, the woman urged others to share instances where they had faced something similar. Here's her tweet:
what’s the dumbest thing that’s ever been mansplained to you?
mine is one time I was driving and my husband let me know our home was “up ahead on the left.”
The thread caught up in no time as women from across the world started sharing their experiences with mansplaining in the most ludicrous of situations and on topics that they had full authority on. Here's what some of them had to share: