I remember one of my first posts here on VOY was on periods: #HappyToBleed which I will link here. At that time, around one and half year ago, I was not really sure whether I should write that post or not. I did not know what to expect and how people would react to it. There were very few posts on menstruation on VOY and to be very honest, I was so nervous when I pressed 'Submit'. When the post got published, I was so happy with the outcome and the positive comments I got especially from Kate (thank you so much!) and since then, I did not have any second thoughts. I also posted a second article on that last year for menstrual hygiene day and here I am today, writing a third one for Menstrual Hygiene day 2017. And no, this time, I will not have any inhibitions when I will press 'submit'. I am so happy to see so many posts on menstruation and it's an issue we need to address more often.
People reaction to that may not be always good, I have got comments from people saying that "there are other big issues to talk about instead of menstruation, why don't you focus on important issues, talking about periods is just stupid, that’s not gender equality, are you crazy or are you on your periods, you will drop that idea when your period is gone.., angry feminist"
The above paragraph is just a trailer. People say so many mean things which led to believe that they know so little about it, and even in 2017, where we are at a peak in technology, women still need to struggle with basic human rights and those menstrual taboos are still here in our society with varying degrees. So, I thought why not make a post on period taboos and talk a bit about it and we can also discuss about it in the comments below, share our ideas and views and educate each other.
1.I have always said, periods are just normal and even if we open any dictionary, encyclopedia, reliable sources on google, we will find that menstruation is just science. Why should it make women feel impure or dirty? Even science says it's not. It's just a thing we built in our head.
2. Why not talk about it when half of the population experiences it? I asked 5 young girls why they used code words for periods and refrain from talking about it and they had no valid reasons except that their mothers told them not to talk about it. My question is why society has made periods such an embarrassing word and why future generations keep carrying this taboo forward? Knowing about periods is a must for both girls and boys, and there should be period talks at school in order to educate the population about this.
3. Lack of knowledge regarding this leads to bullying and embarrassment. And some media glorify menstrual taboos. For example, in the movie 'Superbad', the boy notices some menstrual blood on his jeans and reacts with disgust along with the other boys in the scene. It's not just a movie but the reality, because some boys have the wrong notion about periods and react this way which is wrong. Menstruation can be quite emotional for some women and this kind of behavior push girls to feel bad about their own blood. Even among girls, it's a taboo subject and sometimes when it's not, either they joke about it, make fun or tease someone.
4. I think, it's not fair to associate periods with religion. Girls are not allowed to pray in some places in India when they are on their period. Religion has been wrongly interpreted. Even socially, I don't know why girls are not allowed to enter the kitchen, touch pickles, or touch people and these stereotypes are baseless for me. Maybe people think that periods are special in some way and have to make an issue about it but it's not. This stigma should be put to rest, once and for all. Menstrual taboos= barrier for gender equality and those saying that menstruation is not an important issue should think twice and realize that periods make girls stop their education, and lack of menstrual hygiene can kill them.
5. Since the topic of menstruation is avoided almost everywhere in the world, girls not only stay silent about it but when they have a lot of pain, every month, they don't talk about it too. Endometrial complications, anaemia are health conditions that girls do not seek medical expertise for because well, periods are meant to be hidden and it's a shame for most of them. This leads to complications if not treated and society is still eager to preserve this taboo. Other than that, I don't understand why shopkeepers, for example, wrap sanitary products in newspapers? I mean why should we hide or be ashamed of sanitary products? It's a basic necessity and nothing to feel shame about.
6. Another issue is tax on sanitary products. It is true that some women can't afford to buy sanitary products because they are too expensive and have to resort to unhygienic means which may lead to infections and some may even die from it. Due to lack of pads which are affordable, girls drop out of school and this affects their education and some have to walk very far just to wash their cloth because they can't do it at home, due to menstrual taboos. The question I would like to ask is why tax sanitary products? They are not luxury products, they are basic necessities and every woman should have access to them. There has been some debate on: why tax shaving products for men then? And I would love to hear your opinion below in the comments. What do you think?
7. I would like to highlight a positive aspect though that is sustainable sanitary products and I have seen many campaigns on that. I think it's a great idea. DIY pads which have less environmental impact and we can teach people who can't afford pads to learn how to make these DIY pads, which cost less and are comfortable and hygienic.
8. I have been working on that lately and it was found that forced sex, especially during menstruation is common. In countries where marital rape is legal, unfortunately, women are forced to have sex when they are on their period and any forced sex, on anyone is rape. I have written an article on it for those who want to know more.
9. Period pain is something that affects many girls and it's important to talk about it. You don't have to feel embarrassed to go to the medical room if you are feeling tired and wants to rest. Don't judge yourself so harshly, you have the right to take a break and rest. Talk to your parents, teachers, friends and don't feel bad about it. Access to menstrual hygiene is your right too.
10. Menstruation matters, let's lift the taboos
Please leave your views in the comments below, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask, we will all try to answer everyone and talk about it a little more :)