Mensuration has long been a taboo topic and has never been treated as the simple biological phenomenon it is. For this very reason girls hear of it from their mothers and sisters in whispered conversations behind closed doors and boys, more often than not, find out about it in a conventional if not unreliable set up. Girls grow up believing that they need to hide sanitary napkins while boys grow up believing that it is none of their business. This is how the toxic cycle of limited and misguided information starts and continues.
This also leads to the suffocation of sexual and reproductive problems especially among women, who from a young age are taught to never discuss those. Thus, when a young girl returns home late with shaky legs, severe pain and has difficulty walking, everyone to the maximum assumes “it's one of those days” but rarely does anyone step up to ask what really happened. When a girl is touched inappropriately, she doesn't speak up, often because she is not in the habit of speaking about “those” parts of her body, especially to the male members of her family. Thus the cycle of menstrual taboo translates into the stifling silence of a violated girl. Had she been able to tell her father at the age of 12 why her stomach aches, or talk to her brother about the blood on her bed, the conversation about harassment and rape would probably not be so difficult and uncustomary.
Menstruation is just as normal as beard growth among adolescent boys and that is how it must be treated. Boys and girls both must be told about menstruation by their parents and guardians who themselves should accept menstruation as routine and wanted. Girls must be able to tell the male members of their family about needing underwear, sanitary napkins, menstrual cups or anything else they feel. Menstruation and menstrual products should not have code names and schools should start having sexual awareness classes and meetings for both boys and girls together which would increase the students’ comfort with the topic. Males buying menstrual hygiene products should be as normal as a menstruator needing them and these products need not be hidden any longer.
All of these are socio-personal changes which may seem uncomfortable to many, but with this minute discomfort not only will menstruation be normalized and accepted but it will also lead to a much deeper and better understanding of sexual health among the general population. A girl grown up with all kinds of conversations about conventional taboo topics is less likely to fall prey to implorable clichés and a boy brought up with a similar set up will have a more emphatic and knowledgeable approach to several problematic situations. It strengthens the very fabric of the society and will lead to a more open, accepting and empathic society.
To normalise speaking up against sexual harassment, we need to normalise conversations around the “sacred” body parts, especially of girls. Your body is your temple and no part of your body is anything more than a part of who you are. We need to stop making an organ or a cycle a priority over an individual's voice and comfort.