A Period Rant

It’s a Wednesday night at the library and I’m in the stall in the fully occupied bathroom, reaching gingerly into my bag for a pad. As I start to pull off the wrapper, I can hear the beginnings of that embarrassing plastic, crinkling sound. Suddenly, I stop. Why am I embarrassed? Fuck it, I think, and rip the pad off the wrapper with as much force and as loudly as possible.

For years, I’ve told people I was feeling “sick” or just had “a stomach ache” to get passed the conversation topic of my menstruation. I’ve forced myself to attend meetings, work, and class on days when, at any other time of the month, I would’ve called off—all because I felt embarrassed to admit that I was on my period. This has left me with a sense of guilt, like somehow—even though what was happening was natural and beyond my control—it was wrong, and that complaining about the sheer amount of pain was even worse. So, on days when the crippling pain of cramps and the overwhelming nausea sets in and a headache starts to form behind my eyes, I grin and bare it.

I have a complicated relationship with my period. Maybe all of us menstruating humans do. I will not pretend that my experience is just like everyone else’s. I am a cis-woman with fairly conservative parents, for one. How I interact with my period is individual, but in talking to friends of mine and reading articles, I have started to notice trends. There is a taboo surrounding periods that force us to hide, allows for poor education on the topic, and makes us look down on people who openly discuss menstruation. It reaffirms a severely damaging system, which can be equally damaging for Trans* men and non-binary individuals as it is for cis women. So often the limited conversations we do have seems to have a female-focus, when in reality, women are not the only ones with periods.

People with periods are made for feel that somehow periods are wrong. When we consider that we live in a country that also stigmatizes resources such as Planned Parenthood, and birth control at large, we start to realize how disturbing the pattern is. Maybe it is of no individual fault, but this is the system we live in: we are told to keep quiet about our periods, to feel embarrassed when buying a box of tampons at the store, and god-forbid you ever make a joke about it.

I am in a place for privilege in many aspects of my life. The fact that I can even have this conversation is primarily built on my access to supplies. Many living in poverty, in the USA and around the world, do not have the means to get what they need each month.  What I propose is twofold: fight back against systems which affect us, and help others in less-privileged positions. Let us go forward, learn as much as we can, and tell it to everyone we know. If they think it’s gross, they’re probably the target audience.

 

 

Image credits: 1, 2