Menstruation – The subject is so taboo as if it’s a crime to have periods! In my own fairly educated middle class family, women took great pride in following the custom of 5 days’ isolation. There was a separate mattress for the menstruating woman. The woman couldn’t enter the kitchen, couldn’t touch anything, was made to sit separately in a corner for 5 days.
What exactly happens inside the head of a teenage girl when we period shame her? Period shaming can create a havoc in the world of a little girl. At the age of menarche (when a girl starts to menstruate), girls not only have to deal with the physical changes in their bodies but also have to manage their studies at school and focus on the academics. As mothers/parents/ relatives, our role is to guide the little girl into womanhood and make her comfortable with the process of menstruation.
‘One hundred and thirteen million adolescent girls between the ages of 12-14 in India alone are at risk of dropping out of school because of the stigma surrounding menstrual health. The United Nations advocate explained that if a girl misses school every time she gets her period, she will end behind her male classmates by 145 days. Beyond India, in communities all over the globe, young girls’ potential is being squandered because we are too shy to talk about the most natural thing in the world.
Menstruation is shamed in our society, and we don’t have to go far to find examples of this.Often, what we’re taught about periods are harmful myths which make people feel ashamed of their bodies. We’re taught that menstruation is dirty, disgusting, and something that’s to be kept a secret.
This stigma leads to a lot of misinformation around menstruation, a lack of open discussion about period-related health issues, and not enough access to menstrual products.
As a society, it’s absolutely imperative that we work towards destigmatizing menstruation. The period-positive movement aims to do that through discussion and education. It aims to encourage open discussion about periods and raise awareness around menstrual health issues and menstrual hygiene.
The movement includes the development of eco-friendly, reusable menstrual products as alternatives for disposable pads and tampons. It usually aims to get people to see menstruation as normal, and even beautiful.
The period-positive movement is incredibly important.
Often, menstruation is equated with femininity and womanhood.When we’re taught sex education and biology in school, we are told that menstruation is something that cis women – and only cis women – experience.
With changing times, women’s role in the society changed and so did the period management methods. Haven’t we Indian women switched from pieces of an old cotton saree to sanitary napkins with strings to sanitary napkins without wings on the pieces of cotton saree to only sanitary napkins with wings to now, tampons?
But it’s time we know better. It’s time we stop wrapping pads with shame and disgust and it is definitely the time to tell young girls that ‘period is not equal to a stop.’ And that is exactly what this powerful poem by Aranya Johar is trying to tell us. Irrespective of gender and genitals, this video uploaded by Menstrual Hygiene Day – India is for every woman who has been stigmatised and told she belonged in a four-walled room, just because she bleeds and every man who has made the mistake of hushing it down.
India, its time to celebrate the only blood that is shed without violence and it’s time to bleed with pride!