Dating back to biblical times, we see negative references about women and their periods. My favorite period app, Clue, wrote an article about negative period taboos that include biblical views and an encyclopedia entry.
“Go apart from women during the monthly course, do not approach them until they are clean” Quran 2:222
“…in her menstrual impurity; she is unclean… whoever touches… shall be unclean and shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening” Leviticus 15
“Contact with [menstrual blood] turns new wine sour, crops touched by it become barren, grafts die, seed in gardens are dried up, the fruit of trees fall off, the edge of steel and the gleam of ivory are dulled, hives of bees die, even bronze and iron are at one seized by rust, and a horrible smell fills the air; to taste it drives dogs mad and infects their bites with an incurable poison.” First Latin Encyclopedia
Research has found that the menstrual taboo comes from the intersection of evolution, behavior, and biology. There is a universal understanding of the taboos as well; some societies have positive menstrual associations, saying they are powerful, and the women have been blessed by the moon. “The creation of menstrual taboos took place independently and repeatedly across different peoples and geographies. But scholars don’t agree about why.”
Views Around Me
As a little social experiment of my own, I decided to ask my team their thoughts about periods in general and how they are viewed in society. The answers vary from the girls and the guys; these are the responses:
“We shouldn’t have them. I know there are ways to not have it. I feel like we as women should get some type of sympathy from bosses/government/etc. What I mean by that is, feminine products should be free or cheaper in cost. Also, work leave should be given cause no woman asked to have a period and we shouldn’t have to take medication to stop or make it lighter”.
“Can we get free birth control! I feel like my struggle is with not having access for cheap/free. I also feel like the information from OBGYN and PCP’s isn’t consistent at all. I also think that there needs to be better training on not pressuring women to have periods who don’t want them/shouldn’t have them. The influence of politics on the opinions of OB’s is ridiculous, and the restrictions on birth control are absurd. None of our products should cost an arm and a leg. And they damn sure should be regulated better. Men don’t have to put things in their body to function”.
“One thing I know is that in most states, companies that make pads and tampons are not required to tell you what chemicals are in their products. Which I think they should”.
Some of the men agreed that they would still have sex with a woman who is menstruating.
As you can see, everyone has a different opinion on menstruation. The biggest problem we face is those who need support from their society but don’t get it. That problem is also seen in school, because menstrual products on campus is an important topic and people don’t want to talk about it. Students such as Preeti Iyer want to change this. Preeti is a student at Princeton University who wanted to change the standard at school and bring menstrual products to campus. Her story is about grit, activism, and radical change. I will go more in-depth about her Menstrual Products Task Force. If you’d like to read the Clue article, it can be found here: https://helloclue.com/articles/culture/how-did-menstruation-become-taboo