The women’s fight for rights has been taken place worldwide. In different ways and on different stages, females are gathering together to change their own lives and reach independency from all social knots that have been leaving us away from driving our own faiths. However, it is important to understand that being from different cultures also makes our battles different, and this is shown by the “Period.End of Sentence” (2018, 25 min) film, which won the 2019 Oscar for the best short documentary. “I’m not crying because I’m on my period or anything, I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar” said the Director Rayka Zehtabchi as receiving her Academy’s trophy. And it is impressive indeed.
Women’s sexuality has always been an important issue to be discussed. According to the book Caliban and The Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation (2004), by Silvia Federici, since the 4th century, the clergy has recognised “the power that sexual desire has given to women upon men” and the Paenitentiali (practical guides for confessors distributed by the Church since the 7th century) started to control sexual practices among the congregation. But how many times have we discussed this women sexuality as a positive topic? How many times have we discussed this theme not directed to men, but for women themselves? And, at last, how many times have we discussed menstruation as it is, an important part of our being and of our sexuality?
Period.End of Sentence brings up an important revolution in a small village in India. As long as fighting the stigma when it comes to menstruation in a place where women are actually embarrassed to pronounce this word and struggle to understand what the menstrual cycle really is (some women were told that the menstrual cycle is a disease which makes “dirty blood” come out of them), the documentary also shows groups of young and older women discovering their strength while getting their first job working on small female companies that are starting to produce absorbents. It is important to observe that more than discussing women hygiene and public health, once the use of proper absorbents has also an important impact on that, this women movement surpasses it. It beautifully flourishes to discuss freedom.
In the rural village followed by the doc, a group name their pad’s brand “Fly”, because they want woman to soar. And the film is proudly conducted as it begins revealing shyness’ women nervously laughing when talking about period and it evolves to groups of women making out on their own, working non-stop, creating a brand and walking around the streets trying to sell their products. Likewise, we notice the importance of joining together, creating safe spaces to discuss personal matters and opening a dialogue between those women in a society that, according to one of the interviewed, avoid talking about women issues – not only in the presence of the patriarch, but among the females as well.
The Netflix film points out how different our cultural narratives and social battles are. While, in many countries, we are discussing better methods, such as the menstrual cup, some places are beginning to have acknowledgment of absorbents – something so usual for us. But it also makes me wonder how far we reached if we are often still ashamed to openly discuss it with anyone and anywhere; if pads’ commercials are still representing the menstrual cycle in blue and not red. Nevertheless, it shows that, no matter what or where, we are walking forward and fighting together. And as Melissa Berton, the doc’s executive producer, said: “a period should end a sentence. Not a girl’s education”.