Once when I was 8, I thought I had gotten my first period. I won’t go into details, but it turned out to be a false alarm and I forgot about it. But there’s one thing that never left my mind. My mother telling my aunts that I was “a woman now”.
She mentioned it during lunch, as if it was a hot topic to discuss. She mentioned it with a tilt in her voice as if it was both hilarious and endearing. The same tone of voice adults use when saying something embarrassingly adorable that their child did.
And I? I was embarrassed.
I might’ve not known much about periods back then, but my eight year old brain already thought that a biological act was something to be ashamed of.
Fast-forward a couple of years, and I’ve gone from ashamed to straight up talking about it regardless of who’s in the room. And yet, sometimes I do feel like I shouldn’t talk about it.
Why is it that something so inherently feminine has to be shunned? (Though, of course, I’m aware that there’s women who don’t have periods and men that do.) Why is something so common in the majority of the world’s population something to be quiet about? What is it about menstruation that makes men (and even women!) grossed out? Is it the blood? Women are being brutally murdered everyday, but there are no grimaces and exclamations of disgust whenever that’s on the news.
A question for myself: Why do I vehemently deny that women acted differently while on their period? Why do I tell every man in the immediate vicinity that women aren’t more emotional than usual while we’re on our period?
Truth is, we do act different. We are different. That’s a universal truth. But why deny it? Why can’t we, why couldn’t I, say “Yes. I’m cranky. And moody. And pissed off. Because it fucking hurts”.
Why can’t we be open and truthful about our pain? Why do we have to hide our pads or tampons when we have to take them from our school bags to the bathroom? What’s shameful about a hygienic product? There’s a whole aisle of those in the supermarket. What’s gross about cotton and plastic?
Let’s not ponder much on why cisgender men don’t get it, better yet, let’s ask ourselves — How many times I’ve been ashamed of my period? How many times have I said I have a headache instead of the truth, “I’m on my period. I have cramps.” How many times have we planned and carefully calculated our trip to the bathroom to change our tampons/pads/cups? Almost as if we’re going to inconvenience someone. When, really, it doesn’t affect anyone.
Why do I act like something I can’t control is my fault? Why do we act like we’re somewhat guilty of having a period? There’s really nothing to be ashamed of. One day you started bleeding, one day you’ll stop. All I can tell you is that the next time you’re about to lie about your period,