Yes! ‘Period Shaming’ it is. For a fact, if the title of this piece would have been ‘period’ or ‘menstruation’, a lot of us would not have glanced through it immediately like one of those posts of our favorite actors or health benefits, irrespective of the kind of place, time, etc.
What is the shame about? Menstruation, Periods, a phenomenon every girl has as soon as she hits her puberty. Biology taught us that both men and women face such changes, cracking of voice, pubic hair etc that we all are aware of are discussed around with all the comfort. Then what is it about a natural process that girls go through by the virtue of being a girl.
Don’t enter the kitchen during those five days! Don’t be even seen near the pooja room or the temple during this time and to further surprise, don’t eat that prashad from the prayer offerings. Bhaiya ek whisper ultra dena, bhaiya wraps it in the ‘brown bag’ as if you are carrying a bomb that will explode if seen.
Why? Will you be killed or end up killing people if you do any of the above? Apart from all of these being superstitions such that people our age will mostly associate to be belonging to their parents, grandparents, men in the family and men around, but it is the truth. Why can it be not expected with all the respect and practicality of the natural process. Why are our minds set to whisper in the society we live, school, college, offices etc regarding that tampon required in emergency?
Here again I am not asking you to make a hue and cry about it and declare around if you have a period. Just to recall a dialogue from 3 Idiots, if you have fever then will you go to the doctor and get a medicine or will you get it broadcasted on the television.
The Bleeding Runner:
Kiran Gandhi, a woman who was set to run her first marathon, got her period a night before. After a year of training, she was certainly not ready to give up the opportunity because of biology. She could either run the 26.2 miles with a tampon, or she could bleed freely. She chose the latter. The woman ran the entire marathon as she would have, had she not been on her period. Is she less of a woman? Or has she broken up a societal norm? She did what the circumstances required her to do. She crossed her brother, her father, and numerous others who witnessed her running the marathon.
She wrote about her experience in medium blog last month:
“As I ran, I thought to myself about how women and men have both been effectively socialized to pretend periods don’t exist. By establishing a norm of period-shaming, [male-preferring] societies effectively prevent the ability to bond over an experience that 50% of us in the human population share monthly. By making it difficult to speak about, we don’t have language to express pain in the workplace, and we don’t acknowledge differences between women and men that must be recognized and established as acceptable norms. Because it is all kept quiet, women are socialized not to complain or talk about their own bodily functions, since no one can see it happening. And if you can’t see it, it’s probably “not a big deal.” Why is this an important issue? Because THIS is happening, right now”.
Yes amongst us exist women like Kiran Gandhi who had a specific motive in her mind but we don’t have to follow a path, line of thought or opinion blindly, merely because it is being followed. We have the right to build one on our own as strong and independent people. Men in our society, I am talking to those who change the T.V. channel if an ad promoting a tampon brand comes up while watching it with others, or the women in our society who whisper in the other woman’s ears if she needs a whisper in emergency (pun intended). We don’t have to do that. We can easily do it as we would ask for a band-aid to put on our bleeding finger.
Then again I would like to point out here as above, if we need a band-aid we don’t make an issue out of it and make announcements as if there is an influx of a communicable disease affecting all, similarly if you are on your period, reacting as we would in ordinary and unexceptional circumstances would be the right approach.
We as women are surely not a subject of humiliation for bleeding but we as women don’t have to take unnecessary steps in the pretext of propagating something at a level not required.
We ask for women rights and at the same time we read about a 21 year old young girl forcefully taking a seat in the public transport from a 70 year old man.