Yes, we need awareness about menstrual hygiene among all women around the nation.
Yes, we need to shatter the irrelevant and unethical taboos surrounding periods.
Yes, we need to stop whispering when mentioning the word period.
Yes, we need to celebrate bleeding, not in a primitive way as a sign of fertility, but for accepting it as an integral part of our modern lives.
Yes, we need to bleed, boldly.
So here I am, smiling silently at the upcoming date circled in the calendar in front of me, finally finding the voice for the things I wished to share at different stages of my growing up – post-puberty.
To The Mothers With Sons
I have a true story to share with you. The story of a bunch of girls who started bleeding at 10, 11, 12 or 13 – at an innocent age. At a co-ed school, their male friends catcalled “tomato ketchup” when they spotted ‘prohibited’ blood stains on their immaculate white skirt.
Girls, who have been made to think that periods are their faults, shuddered to approach their male friends for helping them carry the heavy piles of books.
An utterly disgusted male games teacher frowned if more than one girl excused herself from the kabbadi or Yoga sessions that day, while the boys giggled, saying how unlucky they were to be unable to use such an infallible ‘excuse’.
In my story, there is an incident when one of the girl’s backpacks is ransacked by a bunch of boys one day at recess. They were looking for a sanitary napkin or a tampon. Apparently, the perverts-in-the-making associated something like a pad with sexuality. Maybe since a vagina was involved, the thought of it turned them on.
This is why I feel each mother who has a son should definitely make their son aware of periods, and the struggles that come with it, instead of hiding it from them and thereby patronizing patriarchy.
Fortunately, I found my college mates to be more considerate about periods – they didn’t mind holding our bags outside the washroom for those extra 10 minutes we needed inside. They were indeed sons raised right.
To The Men
Yes, guys. Your moms, sisters, wives, girlfriends, friends, colleagues, housemaids – all of them bleed and you know this very well by now. Since we do not wear tags to work or at home during those three to five days, it is often not possible for you to guess, given that we have become quite pro in hiding our quirks, cramps or discomfort.
But, in case you do understand, please don’t be shy to ask for a pack of winged napkins at your local pharmacy. Let your mom/wife take the day off from the kitchen, you can manage a mean roti-sabzi, right? Don’t forget to make her ginger tea or some hot cocoa while you’re in there. Cooperate with that colleague/friend who is the most jovial with you during all other 25 days of the month. Bring her an extra glass of cold water before her presentation, or let her go home an hour early, maybe?
To The Media
We often come across scattered demands around the globe for more representation of women in the field of entertainment, latest of them being – bring more female superheroes. Being a true-blue Marvel fan myself, I absolutely second this. However, I feel it wouldn’t be an entirely bad idea to portray periods more among the women in movies or TV, even the superheroes. Once in a while, it wouldn’t be awful to see them down with cramps too – just as women in real life do?
Our sanitary napkin advertisements show pads giving girls the liberty to play, jump, run, go on a hike, climb a mountain and what not. To be honest, in reality, very few of us feel like getting up and going to work on the first or second day, with cramps only making it worse. So I think it’s high time to also show that it is okay to be down with cramps on periods; we aren’t expected to put on a napkin or tampon and voila – all problems solved. It’s a pad for God’s sake, not Red Bull.
Finally, To The Women
It is completely okay to bleed. You need not hide it, be hushed up about it, feel sorry for it or even blame God for making you a woman. Be proud to bleed, accept it as the most natural event, not as a punishment. No more hiding, no more limits. And next time you find someone period-shaming you, use your superpowers to teach that fool a lesson.
Find this article on Youth Ki Awaaz: A Message To The Mothers With Sons: Periods Are Not A ‘Girl Thing’ Anymore