It was one of those rare moments when both of our daughters were home. Anna, 26, was visiting from New York City, and Lilly, 23, was between shifts at the hospital where she worked. While they buzzed around our kitchen making themselves breakfast, I sat at the island, happily tapping at my laptop, pretending our nest had never been empty.

“Dangit, the bananas are spotty already,” Lilly grumbled. “Didn’t we just buy these?”

“You know, you can put bananas in the refrigerator once they are ripe. The skins might turn brown, but the fruit inside will stop ripening and be preserved a lot longer,” I said, looking over my glasses.

“I never knew that,” Lilly said, her eyes drifting off as if her mind had suddenly been blown, “wow …”After a few moments of staring into space, seemingly contemplating her existence in the universe, Lilly snapped back into the moment and continued, “Momsplains are actually helpful. When Dad mansplains, he just gives us information we already know.”

“Facts,” Anna piped up from her seat at our kitchen island, taking another bite of her avocado and scrambled eggs.

“Mom, you tell us useful stuff like, ‘You’ve gotta separate your darks from your lights, so your laundry colors won’t run.’ But I could be walking down a street with Dad, and if a woman walked by that was eight months pregnant, he’d look at me and say, ‘Hey Lil, that lady’s gonna have a baby,” Lilly said.

“It’s so annoying,” Anna added.

“Why do dads do it?” Lilly posed the question rhetorically, rolling her eyes, then taking a long drag on her smoothie straw.

“Drives me crazy,” I said, “especially when we’re watching TV. He says stuff like, ‘See Hon, that guy’s an undercover detective,’ and I’m like, ‘Really? Do you think I’m a complete idiot?’”

“Yes!” Lilly pointed a finger at me in agreement. “And when he comes home from the grocery store, he takes food out of the bag, and tells me what it is, like, ‘See Lil, this is a cucumber,’” she said while comically imitating her father.

We all laughed, but a serious question remained. Why does my husband explain such obvious things to the women in our family? Does he simply like hearing himself elucidate? Or, is the reason more offensive? Does he think that women are less intelligent than men?

The first known use of the term “mansplain” was in 2008 comments on a blog post, although the practice has arguably been around for centuries. In 2018, the term was added to the Oxford English Dictionary, and defined as “Of a man: to explain (something) needlessly, overbearingly, or condescendingly, esp. (typically when addressing a woman) in a manner thought to reveal a patronizing or chauvinistic attitude.” In a 2022 study on mansplaining, one scientist proposed a broader definition: “[P]roviding an unsolicited or unwelcome, condescending or persistent, explanation to someone, either questioning their knowledge or assuming they did not know, regardless of the veracity of the explanation. The mansplainer is most typically a man and the recipient is most typically not a man.”

Today, mansplaining is recognized as a common phenomenon, yet there is still disagreement over why men do it. Some think men have no gender bias or condescending intent, but rather, they hold themselves out as a confident authority, as evidenced by the fact that men in academics cite their own work 70 percent more than women in academics do. Others posit that mansplaining is essentially a microaggression in the context of gender equality. They argue that mansplaining can have serious consequences, especially in the workplace, such as undermined confidence, job dissatisfaction, “gendered incivility” and low productivity.

That morning at breakfast, my daughters never figured out why their dad mansplains. I’d like to believe that my husband knows that his wife and daughters are very intelligent, observant and practical. Yet, at the same time, he thrives on the notion that he’s the commander of our family, the one who must bestow his wide breadth of knowledge and experience on his underlings.

Who knows? Maybe we should ask him. Then he’ll really have some ‘splaining to do.

Read more at and in Lisa’s book, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com.” Email:

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