Oh! The Trauma Of Men Seeing Pads! High Time We Stopped Caring About That?

Posted: November 4, 2019

Have you ever wondered why women hide pads? If yes, then you are not alone. This viral tweet sums up the emotions of every woman.

Since the movie Padman, people seem to be more open to talking about menstruation. Still, the ground reality is something that only women are aware of.

Even today, a number of women hide their pads, tampons or sanitary napkins from the others. We ‘whisper’ to our friends when we need a pad. Or we hide them in closets, away from the ‘delicate’ eyes of boys and men. We smuggle them to washrooms, just because it shouldn’t be visible to the people that you are carrying a pad. There’s the ‘Log Kya Kahenge Syndrome’. It’s illogical, it’s frustrating, but sadly it’s the truth.

Recently, Diane Shaibu of Prince George’s County, Maryland USA found herself frustrated about having to smuggle her pad to the bathroom. She tweeted about it saying, “Smuggling pads to the bathroom like it’s some sort of illegal drug gotta be the worst adaptation to patriarchy.”

The tweet, since then, has gone viral with more than 70k retweets and over 239 likes.

Other women and their stories

The smuggling of pads is something that many women go through. This was pretty evident with the number of stories shared by other women in response to Diana’s tweet.

Periods are natural and necessary

Periods or the menstrual cycle is a natural process that women go through every month starting from an age of 12 or 13. Medically, periods can be defined as ‘Every month, the uterus lining gets thicker to prepare for a fertilised egg if the woman becomes pregnant. If the egg doesn’t get fertilised, that lining is released from the body as blood through the vagina.’

This monthly process is called menstruation or a period.

Women need to have proper menstrual cycle as it keeps their body healthy and prepares it for pregnancy. An improper menstrual cycle can mean that there is something wrong with the woman’s body.

Periods- what’s the stigma?

Still, as natural periods are they are not treated in the same way. Menstruation is a taboo that the entire world faces. It’s so bad that it has become a way to suppress women.

In India, during periods, many families restrict women from doing all kinds of household chores. They are given a separate bed, separate food. Neither are they allowed to be touched, and are restricted from taking part in any religious practices. All this, simply because during ‘that times of the month,’ according to our society, women are impure.

Women are treated as untouchables and diseased. Why? Just because they go through something completely natural but, sadly, not comfortable in the eyes of society.

This scenario is changing with movies like Padman which addressed the issue of women facing discrimination during periods. However, the one thing that isn’t changing is the taboo surrounding sanitary napkins.

It’s Periods not ‘sshhh koi hai!’

Have you ever been in a situation where you are talking about periods of pads with your mother and your father or brother suddenly entered the room? You had to hush, didn’t you? Well, looking at the taboo around pads, I can definitely say that the answer to this will mostly be yes.

As women, we have become so used to not talking about periods in front of others, especially men, that we don’t realise how we are nurturing the taboo.

It is absurd, but talking about periods is always a hush hush! I mean, it is so much of a taboo that women often term it as “Bloody Mary, Aunty Mary, Aunty Flo, Laal Kaptan” and what not! So much is the taboo that I remember, in school, we would call it ‘Happy Birthday!’

Any discussion about periods sounds like you are not discussing periods but are talking about some terrorist attack or a top-secret plan with code names. I mean, just go and call it Menstruation, PERIOD!

While periods are a completely natural thing, they still are not treated as a necessity. As important as a bandage is for a wound and medicine for a disease, pads are necessary for women during menstruation.

Sadly, but not surprisingly, pads still are not available publicly in medical kits. Again, because, if a man sees pads in the medical kit on an aeroplane or a bus, his eyes will burn!

It’s just a pad deal with it!

Another absurd thing surrounding periods is the way how society treats sanitary napkins. Sanitary napkins prevent the period blood from leaking out, they are a necessity.

Still in India, when you go to buy a sanitary napkin the vendor wraps it up in a newspaper then in a black polybag and then gives it to you. I genuinely don’t understand the reason behind this. It’s just a pad, not NUCLEAR BOMB!.

As if that’s not enough, whenever we need to take a pad with us to the washroom, we smuggle it beneath our clothes so that it’s not visible. Again it’s just a pad not DRUGS!

Smuggling pads into washrooms and hiding them from the eyes of men has become so normalised that we don’t see the bigger problem. For some reason, we think our periods absolutely must, under all circumstances, remain a secret.

The society has made the taboo around this natural phenomenon. So much so, that women just feel ashamed about letting people know that they are on their periods.

And this is not a good thing.

Importance of Period Pe Charcha!

As much as we need to start talking about periods we also need to start normalising periods. There are many girls out there who have to drop out of schools after getting periods because of the lack of proper sanitation facilities.

Things will change only when menstruation becomes a mainstream topic. When people proudly and freely carry sanitary napkins in their hands rather than just doing it for the sake of some challenge. We need to start talking about them in the presence of male members of our family because it’s natural.

Men should stop being awkward or reacting weirdly when they see women carrying sanitary napkins. Mothers need to talk about periods not only with their daughters but also with their sons.

Lastly, women on their periods should stop behaving like ‘laga chunari mai daag, chuapau kaise?’ Periods are not just something of a monthly inconvenience, it is  natural and should be treated like that.

So next time when you go to a shop to buy pads, don’t get it wrapped up in sheets to cover. When you go to the washroom with the sanitary napkin don’t hide it. The next time when you see a sanitary napkin ad on the television, tell people around you that vaginas bleed and it’s not blue!

Let’s all stop upholding the idea that periods are shameful because they’re not. And let’s stop treating our periods like it is some top secret. Although the change won’t take place in one day, it will definitely come with baby steps.

From now on, no more sneaking and hiding.

Hold your pad without shame!

Statutory warning: Sanitary pads are not injurious to the eyes of others. PERIOD.

Picture Credits: Pexels

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