Judy Grahn once beautifully said and I quote “Menstrual blood is the only source of blood that is not traumatically induced. Yet, in modern society, this is the most hidden blood, the one so rarely spoken of and almost never seen, except privately by women”. By this, everyone knows what this article is going to be about today. As women are slowly growing stronger and learning to stand up for themselves, it is time, not just women but also men start talking about menstruation, periods, and the entire process that girls, women go through every month for several years. It is high time topics like menstruation are brought out openly rather than hiding among women.
Understanding menstruation and the taboo behind it
Menstruation is the process where girls and women lose blood for a period of five to seven days, every month. This process is the menstrual cycle. The blood is usually old blood cells that detach themselves from the uterine walls. This is a process that every girl and woman goes through around the world no matter which religion, race, ethnicity, countries women belong to. Sounds pretty normal right? Then everyone just is wondering what the taboo is all about. People need to understand that menstruation, menstrual cycle, period cramps, etc are not something that has emerged very recently. These have been there from the time humankind has been existing.
The idea of menstrual blood being impure and something bad for society comes from a place of women idealization, gender discrimination, the gendered identity that has come into creation by the one and only patriarchy. Menstruation has become a medium to suppress women and limit their creativity, intelligence, feelings, emotions, and everything else that makes women as important as men or more in society. Let me ask people reading this. First, to all women and girls, how many of you have covered your pad in a newspaper and or taken your sanitary napkin like a secret bomb to the washroom? In addition, the second question to all men and boys who have seen this and found it weird until you know why women or girls have been doing this? This is how the inclusion of patriarchy happens in society and the idea of impurity and purity seeps into everyone’s lives. The very idea of how girls in co-ed schools and college are only in the class while the teachers are talking periods and the boys are in another class during that period shows how the societal taboo behind them. This is the very reason boys have no education about menstruation and how it works.
Until today, the awareness of menstruation is so less, that a lot of action and awareness is in great need to make things better for women and girls in every district, village, and country. Over the years, the taboo has come down about the menstrual cycle at least in the metropolitan areas of different countries. There was a time when women were in deprivation of communication with other people during their menstruation, and there were places separately for women and girls during their menstruation that was usually away from the house. So many more things were happening that no are longer happening in the developed parts of the country. Nevertheless, there are still so many places that these things take place. These are small villages, districts that have no connection with the mainland. That being said, many castes and religions have a cultural tradition of celebrating the commence of menstruation with great joy and pomp and bringing down the menstruation taboo that has such a strong grasp on the minds of the community.
Yes, things are much better in the metropolitan areas but let me ask you this how many times do we hear jokes or statements made about women “PMSing” when they are genuinely angry or irritated about something at work or home. Linking something as natural as menstruation to religion, caste, and gender is still present in every part of the world whether it is a village or a metropolitan area. People believe that period cramps are nothing because every woman goes through the menstrual cycle. What people do not understand is that though every woman suffers from period cramps the intensity level is very different. If you believe that women who have low tolerance levels have high-intensity pain, then you are wrong. Several studies have proven that period cramp pain is equivalent to the pain of several bones breaking together. Therefore, it is time we think twice before making comments or statements about menstruation.
Menstruation products and their prices
Though the world is moving forward and developing rapidly, women are still paying a huge amount for menstruation products that are in use for a natural process of losing blood every month. It might seem very surprising that women all over the world have to keep aside a lot of money just for menstrual products such as sanitary napkins, tampons, etc. Basic things like these have become a privilege. Products that are necessary during the cycle are not available for the lower section of the economy because the price of these products is so high. How fair is it that some sections of girls and women get menstruation products and some women and girls cannot? Menstrual hygiene is such an important thing in every single female’s life. If menstrual hygiene is not cared for then it can lead to many physical problems as well. It is time that governments all over the world look into this problem and make things more accessible to women and girls whether they belong to the higher economy or the lower economic class. Scotland and New Zealand are some of the best examples of other countries. These countries have made sanitary napkins free for everybody. These countries have shown that menstruation products should not be a privilege rather products everybody has a right to.
The argument that has been made is that these countries have a lesser population, therefore; it is easier for the government to bring about these laws. To this argument, the only answer can be that, even if you cannot make sanitary products free for everybody, things can at least be done to make them free for people who cannot afford menstruation products. The thing that needs to be kept in mind as well is that the quality of these products should be equally good as the products that are being paid for. The rights of women and girls should not be made into a monetary business from which only the rich benefit. In recent years, awareness, protests, and petitions have been increasing to bring about some change and remove patriarchy from the root so that women can get what they deserve. These actions should not stop until we as people have some change in the community and the world.
I would like to conclude that women do not expect to be treated as supernatural beings or goddesses rather what we do expect is to be treated as human beings who deserve respect, trust, proper treatment, and everything else like any other person living on this planet. Finally, it is time that the people of the world realize that periods are not gross, weird, or inappropriate to talk about.
- Google searches for quotes and images.