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Learn How To Womansplain With Rhea Bhatia

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

“Let me Google that for you” has become one of my favorite websites recently as more people ask me easily Google-able questions as if I am a rainbow-colored search engine and not a living, breathing human being with a to-do list a mile long. I was discussing this burden of education that often falls on women of color with my friend and peer Rhea when she introduced the concept of “womansplaining,” a way in which women are reclaiming their power over conversations that men have so long predominated. This week, I sat down with Rhea Bhatia to learn more about how she womansplains her way through the world, one exasperating conversation at a time.

Her Campus: What’s the difference between womansplainining and mansplaining?

Rhea Bhatia: The major difference between womansplaining and mansplaining is dependent on who is speaking. When one hears mansplaining, one ponders the negative connotations related to that term due to its nature of being represented in the media, office politics and social situations. This perceived difference between the two has become ingrained in our minds as one is superior to the other. However, in actuality, they are both things that both females and males respectively use to express themselves. Womansplaining is a nickname given to women who are confident and passionate about what they are speaking about.

HC: Was there a defining moment in your life when you started womensplaining?

RB: Womansplaining was sort of a concept that has always been something I’ve done, just never consciously given it a name. I was diagnosed with endometriosis after suffering grueling symptoms for years. I have been recently sharing on social media about the disease, especially since March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. This entire month, I suppose I have been ‘womansplaining’ my way through conversations about my experience, common misconceptions and lack of a cure. Educating people on endometriosis makes me feel incredibly powerful. 

HC: Are there steps to womansplaining? Can you go through them for us?

RB: The first step would be for the woman explaining to consciously think about what they want to say because so often in conversation, feelings get hurt, and boundaries are severed due to the lack of conscious thought or ‘filtering’ what you want to say. Next would be to simply explain what you wanted to and be confident in your response, yet also willing to learn from others as knowledge is something that one cannot simply become immune to. In all honesty, these are the two most vital things to keep in mind when womansplaining. Then, I would culminate by saying that these two ‘steps’ mentioned should really serve as the basis for any conversation, and to not think of womansplaining as something that you must consciously keep at the forefront of your mind. Rather, it should come naturally from within. 

HC: What are some womansplaining do’s and don’ts?

RB: There are a few rules to womansplaining. I would say ‘do’ hold yourself to the same caliber as someone you are conversing with, which can also be applied in any social situation. Make sure you meet their eye and follow their movements with yours, it will not only allow you to appear more attentive to what they are saying, but it will also encourage them to do the same for you. Also, ‘do’ make sure to be understanding of others’ opinions, whether they are the same as yours or are totally opposite. I would say ‘don’t’ make others feel inferior to you whilst womansplaining. While womansplaining is empowering, you should remain firm in your beliefs. It is never acceptable to hurt others in the process of affirming your beliefs.

HC: Do you think womansplaining is ironic in some ways since it takes a patriarchal and domineering approach and rebrands it for women?

RB: Most women can collectively agree that mansplaining has created quite the rift between the two sexes due to its condescending nature. However, I also do not believe that womansplaining is being used to take over mansplaining and assert one’s gender over the other. Womansplaining was created and is used to instead combat the toxicity that accompanies constant mansplaining to reclaim power over female ideas and individual expressions or opinions. Womansplaining has to do with the woman themself as they make their voice heard in a similar manner to a man’s. I do think it is ironic in the sense that mansplaining has been used for so long to make women feel inferior and less heard, and in response, women instead became hyperactive and thought of their own method of explaining things. 

HC: Thoughts on woman-ifying other harmful male behaviors, not only for women’s history month but all year round?

RB: Women should continue to combat toxic male behavior. I believe that it is a man’s responsibility to realize that certain behaviors are toxic and damaging to women. Often, having an open discussion or bringing the problem to the forefront is the first step in realization and healing toward a better future. I believe that these issues need to be brought to light no matter the month and that women deserve to collectively be celebrated year-round for their incredible resilience.

After speaking with Rhea, I can’t wait to try womansplaining for myself. Have you ever tried womansplaining? Leave your story in the comments!

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Hello! My name is Maya Topiwala (she/her) and I am a second year International Affairs major at Florida State University. I'm from Atlanta, Georgia. I am really passionate about local politics and grassroots organizing. In my spare time, I read, cook, and hike.