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How the concept of girlsplaining’s gotten misconstrued

by Gaby Agbulos

WHEN girl dinner started trending on TikTok, I was quick to join in on the fun.

I found it to be a great manner of expressing girlhood to people online – the feminine experience of scrounging up whatever food you can find based on your cravings, no matter how much the food items you choose may not go together in any way whatsoever. 

When girl math started trending, I was still rather amused, given that it was a trend wherein women would justify spending hundreds of dollars on an item using this so-called method of girl math. At the same time though, there was something that started to stir within me; something that didn’t sit right with me.

Sure, I’ve always been horrible at math. I appreciated that there were a lot of people out there like me who had difficulty with basic fractions but hidden deep beneath the surface of this trend seemed something rather sinister. 

Then when the concept of girlsplaining things came out, this uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach started to grow. 

Something just didn’t feel right here – something only a woman would understand. 

Dumbing things down

It’s hard to define what exactly girlsplaining means. I’m sure it started as a cute, innocent trend at the start, but now it’s just boiled down to one thing: dumbing things down so that we girls can understand. 

One of the people at the forefront of the girlsplaining trend is TikToker Nikita Dumptruck, famous for her videos wherein she girlsplains concepts like football, eating the rich, and mortgages. 

And in all honesty, there is good that comes from her videos; there are a ton of comments that thank her because she’s helped them better understand economic concepts, and it is great that a TikToker with over 740, 000 followers is bringing light on issues like sex work, the WGA and SAG strikes, as well as the current situation between Israel and Palestine. 

One of her recent videos – one that explained the issue between Israel and Palestine using girls having a party as a metaphor – caught flak from many people because they felt that it was wrong to girlsplain such a serious topic.

One user on X, for example, felt that explaining it in such a way was rather insensitive, while another stated that it felt there wasn’t a need to simplify war into pink mush. 

And this is the problem that I have with girlsplaining. I have no issue with Nikita herself – to be honest, I found a handful of her videos to be rather enlightening – but rather, my beef is with the concept of girlsplaining as a whole. 

There’s just something that feels off about creating an entire trend and packaging it as something meant for women just because it means explaining things in a watered-down way that even a complete dunce would understand. 

I get that perhaps it’s rooted in the concept of mansplaining, wherein men feel the need to explain a concept to a woman in simple terms because they think she wouldn’t understand otherwise, but honestly… how is this trend any different? Is it because the content’s coming from women instead? Is that not worse – if not more regressive – than the former?

I just don’t get it. I really don’t. 

“I hate taking difficult concepts and applying a “girl filter” to them,” says one X user, summarizing my feelings on this entire topic. 

This concept is built on the idea that “I’m explaining this so simply that even a woman can understand it,” and it’s just something that feels more damaging than helpful when you look at things in the long run. 

No need to do all that

I don’t know. Perhaps I’m just being overly sensitive, or perhaps this trend just reminds me too much of all the times I’ve been told I couldn’t do something just because I was a girl. 

To this day, I still don’t see a difference between this and mansplaining something – or even this and simply being misogynistic. 

I get that explaining concepts like this does help a number of people, especially if they want to learn about new things but don’t have the energy to delve into it on a deeper level, but is having someone speak to you as if you’re an infant any better? 

Others believe that this trend promotes anti-intellectualism, urging people to instead just do their own research instead of relying on short girlsplainer TikToks for all their information on these deeply complex topics.

I’m not going to do all that. You’re free to do whatever you want with your time, and to learn things however you want. All I’m saying is: how has it come back to this? Back to the middle school-esque ideas of girls being dumb and boys being smart?

Hopefully, the next women-centered trend that comes will focus more on the joys of girlhood; bring back girl dinner! Let us relive our happy moments of unique experiences felt only when you’re surrounded by the love of your fellow women. Like the sense of camaraderie when you’re in a bathroom filled with drunken strangers, calling each other beautiful and exchanging Instagram accounts. Or going out with your girls after a hellish week, talking and drinking overpriced coffee, and buying things you don’t need. 

There is so much to love – so much to celebrate – about being a woman. I just wish the rest of the world felt the same. 

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