Let us, dear friends, take a look at the United States of America for a moment. Women have been able to vote for ninety five years. It has been illegal to own a slave for one hundred and fifty years. It has been sixty one years since integration began. As of this year, gay people can get married.
God forbid a woman talk about her period.
I stumbled upon this conundrum yesterday when I was talking to my boss about my period and realized that we were both whispering. Whispering. Two women. In a store full of other women- whispering about the most unifying female related topic on this daggum planet. We were both whispering because somehow, some way, in today’s constantly evolving society periods are still taboo. Odds are, you are alive because of a woman who once had the ability to have a period. Unless you’re an alien. If you’re an alien and reading this I hope my words don’t further your desire to wipe out the human race. I digress.
Menstruation. Periods. Being “on the rag”. Whether it happens every twenty eight days like clockwork or it sneaks up on you like Actual Cannibal Shia LaBeouf, it happens. We deal. We cramp. We bloat. We crave weird foods. We get headaches. We get pissed off. We cry. Some of us actually throw up or pass out. Some of us barely notice. Some of us have severe conditions related to our periods. We spend way too much money on things that keep us from walking around all bloody. And we can’t freaking talk about it.
It’s the twenty first century and something that’s been happening since the beginning of human kind is still too gross to talk about. I have been the soul period informer to most of my guy friends. Not their mother, nor their sister(s), or aunt(s). The majority of the children in this country aren’t being taught about menstruation. Hell, I didn’t even know about it.The only reason my first period wasn’t horrible was because my little cousin had her first right before I did, so it was a topic that was being discussed. Before she started I never heard a word about periods. I didn’t even know my mom had one.
Until I was put on birth control every period was a separate nightmare. I often ended up on the bathroom floor writhing in pain. My cramps were concentrated in my thighs. By the time I was a senior most of my teachers would let me lay across my desk or nap if I even showed up at school at all. Birth control moved my cramps up to my ovaries and lessened their intensity. It also added hormonal fuel to my already fiery temper. The decision is different for everyone. Pump hormones into my body and hope it takes my acne away and eases my cramps, or wait it out and stuffer. Get the shot and not have a period again for three months, or get the shot and have a period every freaking day for three months. Use an IUD so I don’t have to remember to take the pill, but possibly have the IUD attach itself to my body and suddenly I’m sterile or I may die. Damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
Women everywhere have the same struggle but we’re silenced by the stigma surrounding the uterus. It’s where the blood comes from. Partly sexual. Partly life giving. It’s complicated. If I’ve learned anything in my twenty two years of living it’s that when something is complicated society is going to shy away from it until it’s forced into the light. I want to talk about my period openly. I want to be able to share in other women’s struggles without whispering. I want to talk openly about the pros and cons of birth control. I want to pay less money for “feminine products”, dammit. Moreover, if I have a daughter I want to be open with her about my experiences. I want her to be open with her friends. The female body is already stigmatized enough. It’s time we take hold of something that is truly ours, because it certainly isn’t going away