A couple of weeks back I post a link to a video by Aditi Gupta via TEDTalks, who discussed a topic that is still seen as very taboo in Eastern cultures and not discussed freely within western cultures either. MENSTRUATION. Commonly known as periods.
Yet these two words are used least when talking (or often the case not talking) about periods. We have ‘ on the rag’, ‘crimson wave’,’aunt flo’, ‘the painters are in’ and around 4996 other worlds used globally to describe periods, other than the actual word menstruation or period!
When my partner asked me what my topic of discussion was going to be for this week. I told him. “Making periods less taboo.” His reaction “Hmmm….okay. I guess they’re natural, but I’m not comfortable talking about them.” Questioning him further he couldn’t tell me why. All he knew was that they simply “made him feel uncomfortable.” He and every other man and majority of women on the planet.
So why, when half the population on the planet will experience periods in their lifetime is there so much stigmatism around the topic? Often dubbed -‘the last taboo’.
Religion has a huge part to play in the mind-set surrounding menstruation. It is something taught in churches and synagogues, from a young age. Eve was weak. Eve ate the apple and tempted Adam and because of this unforgivable sin, God punished Eve. With menstruation? NO! If we actually look at Genesis we see that the punishment for sin was NOT menstruation.
“I’ll multiply your pains in childbirth; you’ll give birth to your babies in pain.” – Genesis Chapter 3 Vs. 16,The Message Bible
Eve’s curse was childbirth. When Eve disobeys God and eats the forbidden fruit from the tree of life his punishment for her is pain during childbirth. So, when did this get misconstrued? At what time of life did someone decide, menstruation was part of the punishment?
Nowhere in Genesis 3 Vs. 16 does it say God’s punishment for Eve was menstruation. Definitely not something that was gleaned from the Bible, but something man (or even women) have concocted and has journeyed through generations. Yes, periods are mentioned later on in Leviticus as all who be near women during their menstrual cycle are unclean and women are viewed as “impure”? (I think that can be explored in a later blog).
Another reason I think periods are taboo is blood is seen as a weakness. It is often associated with being wounded. Just look at the animal kingdom. The lion will always take down the wounded, bleeding gazelle first. Menstruation also carries with it that it represents failure. It is a monthly reminder that our bodies are getting rid of the crap, waste and refuse. But what we fail to remember is that it is also a symbol of potential new life, that a woman’s body is healthy and fertile.
If women are to start growing up and embracing there bodies instead of feeling ashamed of the naturalness of having periods, then society need to stop treating us like we are unclean. Aditi Gupta in her talk, looks back on when she was a young teenager in India having to hide that she’d started her periods by washing her ‘rags’ in secret and hiding them under her bed to dry. Many young girls have to do this and as a result get infections from the unsanitary way in which they are being cleaned.
That’s another thing. This word ‘unsanitary’. Before I switched to cloth pads my partner wouldn’t even empty the bathroom bin during ‘that time of the month’ (another euphemism). If you walk down the feminine hygiene aisle in any grocery store or supermarket we are bombarded with advertisements on making periods smell like flowers, like they are odour infested putridness. Let’s get one thing straight. Periods themselves don’t smell. When you cut your finger or graze you knee does the blood smell? I think not. What causes that rancid smell in between changing, is the chemicals the industry feel the need to incorporate into disposables and ‘hints of camomile and lavender’ that causes it. Since cloth – no issue.
Yes periods can be a pain in the uterus (literally). Women often have to deal with menstrual cramps, pain, sometimes blackouts and nausea for the real ‘ sufferers’, but we need to start talking about them. Good and bad. Say when we are having a ‘good’ day with in the week, or have a moan when the cramps are making you bloated and sick. The more we talk about them and are open and honest about the affect they have on our bodies ladies, the more society will change their attitudes towards women and menstruation. We need to change our attitudes towards periods too. Be the good change we want to see in the world. Promote ‘positivitea’ surrounding periods and make it the norm not the taboo. Periods are seen as a curse in many cultures and societies and I think it needs to stop. Things need to change. Periods are not a curse, they are a necessary blessing.
The word ‘bless’ comes from an old English word ‘bleden’ meaning: “to bleed”, so in theory periods are a blessing not a curse. It’s a sign that we can potentally give life. If that’s not something to shout about then I don’t know what is.