Let's Talk About: Periods With Lily
Lily is currently studying international history and politics at University of Leeds and runs a blog of her own (https://lilygbblog.wordpress.com)! Go and check it out to hear more of her views and thoughts on the world
Let’s talk periods!
One topic that was of great focus on IWD 2018 was normalisation of many issues, of course associated with women, that appear to be deemed unconventional or trivial by society - one being menstruation. This is a matter that seems to result in a sentiment of discomfort for many males - despite it being a natural, inevitable bodily process that cannot (in many cases) be avoided. Socially-induced ignorance and fear results in a neglected issue.
One reason that there exists a taboo surrounding menstruation is a result of the lack of education in this topic, it is widely ignored in the little sex education we received in what… year five?? It is barley touched upon and even female teachers appeared to be at a level of unease when educating us. Women are conditioned to believe that this a subject we should pre empt talking about around our male counterparts, who deem them ‘icky’ and gross, not like we have to deal with monthly bleeding, cramps and hormonal fluctuation or anything. A period-phobic society is not a auspicious one, and shaming periods and period talk perpetuates this issue further and further. We must begin by talking about menstruation more, no matter who you’re surrounded by. Talk to your male friends about them openly, not stating that sharing the detailed complexities of each menstrual cycle is necessary but don’t feel the need to conceal or totally avoid the topic.
Although the situation is by no means ideal in the western world, non-western countries have seen a progressing influx in period shaming- in parts of India women and girls are encouraged to stay at home during their period as this is deemed less humiliating than the potential to bleed in public, women are actually being constrained as a result of a bodily process they have no control over!
The ignominy women suffer from having periods should not exist, they should instead be comforted and consoled for the pain and emotional turmoil they have to experience, even if this is not an experience that is shared across both genders - this is your mothers, your sisters, your daughters and partners. Evidence found from freedom4girls on instagram states that a whole 26% of young girls did not have a clue what to do when they first started their period, this lack of knowledge perpetuates stress and confusion for girls at the average age of 12.
Also significant in normalising this topic allows us to spread awareness of menstruation in general, which sees detrimental impacts for women and girls living in third-world countries. Tackling period poverty is of great importance, menstrual hygiene is a basic human right that is not experienced globally. Sanitary products are a completely distant luxury for those suffering in poverty, having no access to basic civil liberties. In Nepal, 41% of girls suffered school absence due to lack of privacy when cleaning and washing when they had periods, 53% for the same reason in Nairobi, Kenya (‘freedom4girls’). These are BASIC. HUMAN. RIGHTS.
It may sound dramatic but menstrual activism (promoted by Chris Bobel) is a form of new/third wave feminism, and encouraging the discussion of periods in a positive light- resulting in society eventually becoming accustomed to it. This is just one of many topics that needs to see a wave of normalisation in a patriarchal society. Every little step counts. As well as making women feel at ease as a basic right, the normalisation of period talk also allows for a greater comprehension and therefore awareness of period poverty.We have many things to combat, yet this is something I feel particularly passionate about.Menstruation is what made you, boys!