Do you remember the first time you got periods? I was 10 years old; fortunately, it was summer vacation and a few days before my 10th birthday. But HORRIFYING! To see my undies all bloody red and scared to tell my Mom. But why do we feel it’s okay to talk about period with our mothers and female friends but not fathers, brothers and male friends? The taboo. The moment we get our first period, we are taught to ‘hide’ this ‘problem’ from everyone, to keep it a secret.
Last year, I came across these two books on Period: “It’s About Bloody Time. Period.” by Emma Barnett and “Period Power.” by Maisie Hill. (I actually loved the usage of period as pun in both the titles!) The former is shattering the period taboos across the world while the latter is an attempt to educate us more about our bodies, menstrual cycle and health. We women already feel uncomfortable during periods followed by cramps, cravings and mood swings, etc. But at schools, colleges or workplaces, it is next to visiting Hell for us. Why? Because of our reluctancy and hesitation to talk about periods with friends and co-workers most of the time and the backlash filled with misogynist comments.
In her book, Emma Barnett shares what saddened her the most during her research. She talked about the Sabarimala temple protests in Kerala by Hindu women in 2018. Hindu women of the menstruating age were banned from entering the sacred temple because they were considered “impure”.
While most women are still fighting against the phobia and hatred for menstruating, many women who don’t have medical access to health and hygiene problems struggle as well. Barnett says, “Periods need to come out of the darkness because of the potential benefits to women’s health around the world. But the cultural benefits of smashing the period taboo would be major and just as important.”
In her Introduction, Masie Hill talks about the necessity to make conversations about our period experiences, “the more we talk about our experiences and issues, the less they can be ignored.” She also said why Sex Education should talk more about period where we are told that we have a right to know about our bodies. This is a “sure-fire way to eradicate the shame that many of us have been made to feel about our-usually very healthy and very normal-bodily functions.” I believe this taboo can be permanently eradicated if we women talk about it with everyone around us, once they see how normal we are to talk about it and do not consider it shameful, they will also eventually understand why it is absolutely normal and natural.
There’s a native American saying that,
"At her first bleed a woman meets her power During her bleeding years she practices it at menopause she becomes it"
Recently, I read that Zomato introduced Period Leaves of 10 days a year for women. This is the kind of changes that conversations bring. And for that, I will suggest these books to be read one after the other; first, understand how your body works during a period by reading “Period Power.” and then exterminate the cultural period taboos by reading “It’s About Bloody Time. Period.”