Anoushka Shankar’s Post On Her ‘Ladybits’ Encourages Us To Talk About Sexual Health

Women make half of the world's population. Yet, our sexual health is seen as a taboo subject. Anoushka Shankar, with her latest post breaks this taboo.

Women make half of the world’s population. Yet, our sexual health is seen as a taboo subject. Anoushka Shankar, with her latest post breaks this taboo.

Musician Anoushka Shankar known for work as a sitar player and composer, recently underwent a double hysterectomy and used the occasion to talk about a topic hardly discussed openly – women’s sexual health.

Shankar shared a long post on Twitter titled ‘LADY BITS’. And described the post as ‘Read why I no longer have a uterus, and why I decided to tell you.’

She began her post with details about the surgery, “As of last month, I no longer have a uterus. I had a double surgery: a gynaecological-oncologist performed a hysterectomy due to my large fibroids, which made my uterus as big as if it were six months pregnant, and an incredible surgeon removed multiple further tumours from my abdomen (which I blessedly then heard were all benign). One tumour had grown through my muscles and was visibly protruding from my stomach. There were 13 tumours in all.”

Anoushka Shankar’s ‘Lady Bits’

She also opened up about how discovering her illness left her depressed. And how when she shared it with her friends she found out that many women around her have undergone hysterectomy. Despite this, not a lot of people talk about it because women are not allowed to ‘flash our lady-bits everywhere, are we?’

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She added, ‘I look back and grieve for my younger self and all the girls I knew, for how much we were expected to cope with in silence. I’ve always thought of myself as someone who comfortably shares most thoughts and experiences. Yet I look back and realise I allowed my internalised embarrassment and shame around sexual health, and my period, in particular, to remain unchallenged all these years’

Anoushka’s ‘Lady Bits’ makes us wonder how we women are meant to always be silent about their sexual health. From an every month occurrence like menstruation to a critical surgery like hysterectomy, we just keep quiet.

Why the taboo?

I remember recently I went to a grocery shop to buy sanitary napkins and while I was leaving the vendor asked me ‘Maidam ye cover nahi lengi?’ (Don’t you want a cover?). The ‘cover’ strikingly is always pitch black.

If you have also been through this, you are not the only one. Till date, I don’t understand that when half of the world’s population goes through something that is not a disease, then why should it be treated as one.

Why do sanitary napkins – a basic necessity – are wrapped up in a paper and then given in a black cover as they are some nuclear bomb? Why are women asked to hide the fact that they are menstruating? And why in several households (during menstruation) are women are treated as unclean?

The answer to the taboo

The answer to this is the taboo around women’s reproductive health. Also, trust me, it’s not just menstruation. Reports suggest that many women are reluctant to visit a gynaecologist. This is mainly because we are embarrassed of talking about sexual health.

From missing our periods, to menopause, to trying to get an abortion to getting our breasts or uterus removed, society makes us feel that we should just keep silent about everything. Because according to society, women are meant to have this perfect life. A life where anything even medically ‘wrong’ with our sexual health is a matter of embarrassment. And it makes us less womanly.

Anoushka Shankar by sharing her story through ‘Lady Bits’ has inspired many women to leave their embarrassment and fear of society behind and talk about good reproductive health.

Let’s begin the conversation, let’s call it menstruation rather than ‘un dino’ (those days of the month), let’s encourage women to visit a gynaecologist. And in the end, let’s encourage women to embrace their bodies without any embarrassment.

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About the Author

Nishtha Pandey

I read, I write, I dream and search for the silver lining in my life. Being a student of mass communication with literature and political science I love writing about things that bother me. Follow read more...

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