Period. End of Sentence: A Review

Period. End of sentence. 

Imagine if you constantly felt the need to hide a sanitary pad or tampon when you’re at work or school. Imagine if you were told to “shut up” because it’s not socially acceptable to freely talk about menstruation. Imagine if you were treated like an “untouchable” when you’re on your period because, apparently, you’re “impure” during that time. Well, that’s how the majority of women in my country feel every time they’re menstruating. Sucks, doesn’t it? 

Even though I was never taught to think of periods as taboo, growing up in India, I’m aware that it is still extremely common for women (let alone men, if they even know what a period is!) to brush that conversation under the rug. Why? Because women are taught that their period ⁠— a NATURAL process that the MAJORITY of females in existence go through ⁠— is a cause of embarrassment rather than a miracle of nature. Just like almost everything in a patriarchal society, it is perceived by the average Indian woman as something that makes them inferior and impure…at least that’s what most people (including myself!) believe to be the reality in India – a country that is often thought to be backward-thinking and orthodox. 

In light of this, I recently stumbled upon a short documentary on Netflix and, as a strong advocate of female rights, I had to give it a watch! While I thought the documentary would reveal to the Western world what I already knew (or at least I thought I knew) about how menstruation is looked down upon in my culture by both men and women, I wasn’t all that right about it. Honestly? I’ve never been happier to be proven wrong!

Although the beginning of the film does reiterate the lack of knowledge and awareness about the female body that exists in rural India (some people actually think it’s an “illness that only affects women” …like what?!), I was pleasantly surprised to learn that rather than continuing to shy away from it, there are both women and men who are growing increasingly aware of how to deal with it in a sanitary manner without having to spend the majority of their daily earnings on pads. While it made me sad to realize how poor the living standards in some parts of my country really are, it made me proud to learn that in spite of a formal education and an environment where there is a heavy stigma that surrounds menstruation, it was a man named Arunachalam Muruganantham who began making sanitary pads for women in neighboring villages. The documentary highlights how he, a man, trains and encourages a group of women from the village to make and sell this essential to other women to erode the taboo around menstruation. 

Honestly, I am so proud to know that in my country ⁠— my so-called “backward thinking,” “patriarchal” country ⁠— this man, who was also surrounded by the same stigma growing up ⁠— single-handedly envisioned progress and began eroding the stigma around it, empowering women to earn their living while doing it. 

This Oscar-winning film is a definite must-watch for everyone ⁠— period or no period! It’s the reality check that you didn’t even realize you needed and the hope you didn’t even know existed. 

Period. Beginning of sentence.

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