Why Not Mentioning Menstruation is Harmful

Have you ever wondered how Katniss Everdeen survived during the Hunger Games with no pads or tampons? Maybe her cycle was just perfectly timed so that she wasn't menstruating while in the games or maybe Suzanne Collins just decided not to mention menstruation in her series. Many of the top fantasy or science fiction books written for young adults don't ever mention the female characters having to deal with their periods. In the dystopian series Divergent, Beatrice Prior spends the whole series fighting bad guys, but never once has to fight a wave of painful cramps. Even in the world-renowned Harry Potter series when Hermione goes on the camping adventure with Ron and Harry, you never once see her struggling without tampons or pads.

As a young girl I was taught to never mention menstruation in public, to hide my menstrual products while in school, and to throw them out in a way so that the boys would never see them. This social stigma around menstruation suppressed me from discussing and learning about other menstrual products, safety issues around periods, and getting help for my painful cramps. My life shutdown the week I had my period because my cramps, headaches, and fatigue made me feel defeated. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized why it is so important to talk about menstrual health and educate young girls on the issue.

Ending this stigma around menstruation can begin with authors normalizing it in their character’s lives. Menstruation is a normal process that all women, even in science fiction, have to deal with. TBy mentioning periods in their books, authors can show young girls that they are able to overcome their periods and help to normalize menstruation in the public eye. To quote Margaret Atwood, “A word after a word after a word is power." Authors can use that power to bring about social change for young girls by showing them that periods are not things that need to be kept a secret and that it shouldn’t bring them down.

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