Stop Asking Women if They’re PMSing

Or on their period or in the middle of an “emotional time”


“Geez — what are you, PMSing or something?” My older brother’s voice filtered through the phone.

He’d chosen to call me after a particularly rough day — not only was I saddled with coursework and an impending deadline for a freelancing gig, but one of my friends had decided it was the perfect time to host her own pity party.

My brother called to ask me a technical question he could’ve Googled, and I wasn’t in the mood to be patient.

I was frustrated, grouchy, and one more issue away from screaming into a pillow — but I wasn’t PMSing. I was just another person in a prickly mood after a bad day.

My brother’s first instinct was to assume that my anger had to do with my hormones rather than an overwhelming day or stressful week. He’s not the first person to do this — for as long as I can remember, female anger (whether it be my own or someone else’s) has been met with one question: is she on her period or something?

Asking women if they’re PMSing demeans their anger

Picture it: Susie’s boss, Robert, calls a meeting to discuss company policy changes. Susie has serious concerns about some of these policies and tries to voice her opinion. She comes off as confrontational — maybe a little too confrontational to those around her. One of her male co-workers makes a snide comment about her being on her period.

It’s just a joke but it’s enough to raise the question in her co-worker’s minds: should we take Susie seriously if she’s just having some hormonal breakdown?

Suddenly Susie’s concerns are no longer real — they’re a side-effect of her wacked out hormones.

Whenever someone asks a woman if she’s on her period, the same thing happens. The woman’s anger — regardless of how rightful it was — gets demeaned. If we can chalk up her reaction to her menstrual cycle, then we don’t have to address whatever she’s upset about.

It’s not that women don’t ever overreact or get emotional when they’re PMSing or on their periods. Trust me, we do — but we can also usually tell when that’s happening too. If I’m PMSing and I feel like I get snippy with someone for no reason, I typically apologize for my behavior later on.

We already know if our anger is the result of hormones or not — we don’t need you to ask us.

It feeds the stereotype of an angry, hormonal woman

The idea that a woman isn’t in her right mind just because she’s on her period is an outdated concept. Women deal with hormonal lows and highs — but so do men.

The difference is that when men get annoyed or frustrated, we don’t ask them if it’s just “one of those times” or if they’re having an “emotional day”. When we assume a woman’s anger has to do with their hormones, we perpetuate the harmful stereotype that women can’t handle their own emotions. Even worse, their emotions shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Most women don’t lose their minds on their periods. At times, we may feel a little more frustrated or upset than usual — but we don’t always act on those feelings, and it certainly doesn’t mean we don’t have the right to be angry about something.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what stage of her menstrual cycle that a woman is in. Not only does it demean her anger and avoid addressing what she’s upset about but it also feeds the stereotype that women can’t control their emotions. Instead of trying to figure out whether or not her anger has to do with her hormones, try focusing on the issue she wants to address.

When I’m not writing, you can usually find me hanging out with my cats.

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