A PERIOD DRAMA THROUGH THE AGES
Period period period, shh shh shh. Walk slowly, talk slowly.
Years pass by, old people die and new people are born (possible only if one menstruates) carrying the taboo around menstruation but no one really understands why it is that way. Possibly, one of the greatest ironies we live with.
It is high time we need to question the societal system and not our body system.
The sick, orthodox mindset needs to be shoved away from hampering the new generations', but why?
Because the silence around periods has had a negative impact on girls and continue having so - girls feel embarrassed to talk about their periods and they suffer from health implications as a consequence.
It shouldn't be an act of feminism to know how your body works.
It shouldn't be an act of feminism either to ask for help when you're suffering.
So how do we normalize periods?
By starting the conversation around menstruation and having the courage to not shy away from it is how we make it normal. We have to start at home, with parents. To be able to freely talk about it with your father, brother, male friends will be a great achievement.
I know many boys who don't even have any idea regarding menstruation. They listen with admiration and surprise when they hear it from their female friends- one being myself. Parents, irrespective of their child's gender, must start teaching how it is like to bleed every month. This can in turn even develop compassion, respect for the female gender, I believe.
Misogyny is deep-rooted in this world. Misogyny based on periods where women are referred to as filthy, sinful is a grave injustice to them and humanity. Women were thought to spoil crops just by walking past them if they had period blood coming out of their body. So you may ask- is blood the problem? No, it's not, otherwise a wounded kid wouldn't be nurtured nor a martyr who shed his blood during wars would be celebrated or said to be a patriot and a pure soul.
Buying sanitary pads is seen as shameful in some parts of India even today, thus many women start relying on unhygienic means to manage their blood- like rugs, newspapers, etc. Girls and women face restriction customs every month- like not being able to touch/eat pickle, worship god or touch anything of religious importance, and sometimes not even take a bath. This often confuses me because the girl is considered impure by the society but at the same time not even allowed to take a bath. What on earth is that logic?
Five reasons we need to talk about periods:
But I can tell you there is every reason we need to talk about it. Take for instance, the ones mentioned above.
Getting your first period can be scary- Having the first period can be an incredibly scary and daunting experience if you haven’t been told why blood would all of a sudden come out of your body.
Myths around menstruation hold girls back- Girls face widespread shame, silence and physical restrictions during menstruation. E.g.- Not being able to enter or cook in the kitchen because apparently food might rot. Education plays a vital role in eliminating the myths and stigma associate with menstruation.
Periods are linked to school drops outs- In India, only 12% of girls and women have access to sanitary products. Others use unhygienic newspapers, leaves, dirty rags, etc. Poor toilet and sanitation facilities at schools and lack of access to sanitary products mean girls do not have the confidence to go to and manage their periods at school.
Menstruation is a big part of our lives- The average woman menstruates for 3,000 days during her lifetime. That’s the equivalent of 8.2 years!
We shy away from talking about our periods- In UK, 64% of women feel uncomfortable discussing their period with their male friends.
NOTE: If we can talk about other biological processes like- digestion, respiration, etc. we can for sure talk about this one too.
What can you do?
You can initiate the conversation of menstruation among family and friends.
Volunteer in or be part of clubs or organizations that address period stigma and poverty.
Voice your opinions and lend your support to end period poverty.
Never shy away from standing up for someone who might be facing issues regarding menstruation from the society. Help them to realize how their body works. Educate them after educating yourself.
Indulge in sharing simple, engaging anecdotes and activities to make people- women especially understand the menstruation process. This puts them in a belief that they aren't alone.
Spread period positivity.
Around the world, women and girls face isolation, shame, and danger because of misinformation and stigma around their periods.
Many of us didn't know about periods before it happened to us- just like me. Now when you wonder you might feel you deserved to have known about it before-hand so that you wouldn't have freaked out at the mere sight of blood one fine morning. If not for anything- let's talk about it to remove fear from the minds of people and welcome this beautiful change of the body because something that allows life to be born- how can it not be beautiful?