“A wonderful day to spend among women in leadership” said Rashmi Karthik an attendee of Women #BreakingBarriers Bangalore. Breaking Barriers is now coming to Pune, Panjim, Kolkata, Coimbatore, Chennai. Register now to attend!
Talking about periods is the right way to make ourselves comfortable with our bodies and its needs, and give us power over our choices.
Periods can be uncomfortable for many, but sometimes a breeze for many. Period.
For a long time, I have had to cancel plans because I was on my periods. Back then, when I was too shy to utter this reason for this, I would make up a million excuses. I think that’s why today I am so good at making up things! I actually love that my imagination has grown to fantastic levels, and it’s handy when I’m trying to write a story or something.
During my 8th grade, there was this one time during my periods when I went back home from my school. Of course, I had told them that I wasn’t feeling well without telling them the actual reason of unbearable period pain. But that day, I had wondered what I would do every month if I couldn’t bear the pain! I started to think about all the other girls and their pain tolerance capacity, and felt that maybe I might be too weak to bear it after all! This was me and my periods during school days.
Purchasing the sanitary napkins was also a funny affair because I never really brought my own pads until my graduation days, when I tasted the ‘independent’ life. Not that I complained much about the purchasing, but it just kept me more shy to talk about periods openly.
All our lives, most of us have been introduced to periods or menstruation through whispers or talking about periods behind closed doors or in empty houses without male members.
So, when I purchased my first sanitary pad from a local store in 2007, I sensed a thread breaking – that of shame and awkwardness. That part of me, which always made sure that my front body was covered with a dupatta just snapped! Yes, purchasing my own sanitary pad made be feel free from prejudices or notions that always made me cautious about my body. A bond was formed that day, between me and my body, more importantly – me and my periods. Being comfortable about my periods was my ticket to embracing my sexuality.
The good part is that I learnt that labelling myself weak because of low period pain tolerance wasn’t necessary. Over the years, there have been days when I saw a drop of red and viola, it was my special day! No pain or anything, so therefore a natural phenomenon that varied monthly, sometimes totally pain free.
Of course, talking about periods and the pain isn’t the only thing I want to do. I also feel like sharing about the endless feelings or cravings that our hormones make us feel during these days. For one, I get extreme mood swings, angry and over-the-top negative feelings. Two, there have been number of times when I wished that I was a princess or something, especially on the days when the bed hugged me with total comfort on painful days and didn’t let me part ways, so that everything was brought to me!
But more than all of this, for this year’s Menstrual Hygiene day, I also wanted to emphasize on the benefits of acknowledging menstruation, especially openly talking about periods as a medium to connect with our body autonomy or bodily choices.
It is a known fact that menstruation is still a taboo in many places, homes, countries. With taboo comes a list of many stereotypes that makes it difficult not only for girls but also for boys.
For most of our lives, we are either in schools, offices, homes, public spaces etc. And, men and boys are also there in all of these places. So, how much are we going to hide or move around in pain, silently?
When instead of talking about periods without shame, it is passed on as a dirty little secret, it does no good to us. In fact, it results in unhygienic practices, especially in rural areas, so as to avoid the shame. Why are girls told to sleep separately or not to enter the kitchen? When they do this, they are made to feel the shame, but at the same time, they are also celebrated for coming of age. Yes, the irony!
Further, many girls come to know about menstruation only when they start bleeding. I did too! I began my menstruation journey with a constant affirmation that when I bleed, I am impure. I wasn’t confident during my periods due to a lack of acceptance from my side that it was just a normal, biological function.
However, considering the news of the recent regressive Alabama abortion law, something as simple as talking about periods becomes very important, as it can be connected to this. For that matter, sex education, safe sex, reproductive health and rights all come into line here. Bodily choices and our right to make them, because it is our body!
This is what is needed! We shouldn’t be just breaking our silence on menstruation, but we should also see its allies in sexuality and reproductive rights.
The myths and misconceptions need to be thrown away for good. For this, a simple question: how many of you encourage your children to question the rationale behind age-old beliefs with regard to period myths, right time to have sex etc.?
This is why I see the connection here.
Breaking the silence around menstruation will give many of us the power to question the denial of our opinions in making bodily choices when it comes to abortion or birth control or even sex.
Coming back to periods, I say we should consider making the switch from traditional sanitary napkins to other menstrual products – cloth pads, menstrual cups etc.
One, because it’s environment friendly.
Two, because it’s brings us more closer to our bodies by exploring ourselves, truly. Unfortunately, when many us talk about inserting cups into our vagina, the instant reaction of not to go down there is quite strong. Again, don’t women go down there for masturbation?
Um, is there an uncomfortable silence?
Please, let’s be honest to our ourselves first, if we really are embracing and moving towards debunking myths about menstruation, sexuality etc .
Start with educating our children on the actual ‘what’ and ‘why’ of menstruation instead of focusing on “don’t do” lists the minute a girl gets her first period. Of course, menstruation isn’t just limited to cis gender women but also transmen and non binary folks.
This year, the theme of Menstrual Hygiene Day 2019 was, ‘It’s Time for Action’.
So, let’s not waste time but rather do our bit according to our individual capacity in spreading awareness about menstrual health, hygiene and also about sustainable menstruation. Open dialogue is the way forward for it will open up doors to other related allies, mentioned before that just can’t be avoided in today’s times!
And, yes, do what your mind tells you to do when you are on your periods. Mine told me to write this article to forget my pain!
Image source: shutterstock
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views. Individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times. If you have a complementary or differing point of view, you can request to be a Women's Web contributor too!
Artist. Writer. Thinker.
Based in Delhi.
Ponders on most things in the universe. Also ponders
Why We Need To Break The Taboo About Periods While Talking To Our Daughters
When My Mother Gave Me My First Lesson On Menarche
7 Simple Ways For A Comfortable Period
How My Mother Liberated Me From The Fear & Shame Around Periods
Get our weekly mailer and never miss out on the best reads by and about women!