Fifty percent of the population gets a period in their lifetime. The same half that grows 100% of the future population. But it’s still taboo – even here in America.
Women talk to each other about periods (if they’re comfortable with each other, not, like, as a rule), because it’s something we all deal with – either in its presence or absence and those repercussions – and it’s entirely relatable. Periods are very personal and generally come with strong emotions: you love it, you hate it, you cherish it, it makes you despair, it makes you rejoice. For some of my friends, a period is immensely empowering. It is a biological process that reminds you that you are in your prime fertility. For other of my friends, the first reddish dot is the harbinger of depression – another cycle without conception. For others, it’s somewhere in between. I’ve personally felt all these things.
We don’t really talk about periods, socially – meaning, with men. Which is fine. Mostly, men are only interested in periods when it pertains to their own family planning – which I think, is normal and fine.
To be sure, there are lots of idiots out there, who consider a period to be a defect of women. If you get angry, you’re obviously menstruating. If I had my period every time I got angry, I think I’d probably be dead. If you want something sweet, you have your period. If you aren’t a submissive lady type, you’ve got your period.
Periods are regarded as something too feminine; if you’re a man and you start to act peevish, you stand a fair chance of being accused of being on your period. We are shown over and over again that having a period is a thing to be ashamed of. It bears repeating at this point that the biological process itself is directly tied to reproduction – to us women growing future humans. For shame, indeed.
It’s this persistent acceptance that a period is something to be ashamed of that is the problem. I’m not going to say that the next time I see you, I’ll corner you and start talking cycles, cervixes, uteruses and so on (although, as a side note, when I was pregnant with twins, this conversation happened a lot, because people always wanted to know how they were conceived, as if it were their business, so I always let them know my business – in detail). My entire point is that we as a people can do a lot better about not making any women ever feel ashamed for being a woman. Irregular periods? Not shameful. Regular periods? Not shameful. Heavy flow? Totes not shameful. Scanty flow? Sames.
A while back, I was posting photos of things I found while moving. A photo I didn’t post was of all the pads and tampons I have amassed. Like, hundreds. I didn’t even take the photo. (But seriously, ladies – in case of zombie apocalypse, come find me.) I was ashamed. But why? I think it’s that we’re taught to be ashamed, but to mask that as not parading our womanliness; “be discreet” about it. And, discretion is completely acceptable. I don’t think anyone should have to be talk about a period if they choose not to. It’s when you combine this sort of accepted muteness with shaming – when you say or imply (which is worse) that not only is gross to have a period, but don’t ever tell anyone about your period because you are gross. Take away the voice, assign the label. We can all reverse that. So, let’s.