I bleed for about a week every month, and I don’t die. As do most other women, the frequency of this bleeding, along with its duration, are subject to change from woman to woman. However, it happens to each and every single person who has a uterus. I’ve always just known this to be a fact. I’m lucky that mine is fairly short, relatively painless and easy to handle. It hasn’t always been, but with a combination of plastic and cotton products, hormone laden pills and small T-shaped devices, we have gotten to a place where we have a decently harmonious relationship.
In some cultures, even sub-cultures within my own society, this is treated as an illness. Because I am capable of creating life, I must be insane, or sick in some way. If a woman is moody, aggressive, flippant or assertive it’s excused by the fact that she bleeds. Pre-menstrual syndrome is blamed for so much of the world’s woes. Sure, some of this is warranted. I’ve had had friends who can’t get out of bed because of cramps that leave them in the fetal position, some who developed anemia because the bleeding is so heavy. It is a physical condition of the body that sometimes has to be treated by doctors, but it is also the thing that allows for our species to continue.
My biggest concern is how we have framed it. I have proclaimed myself that I hate my period, but I have never been repulsed by it. I met a woman once who was so disgusted by her bodily functions that she did everything she could to avoid it, and when she finally had to deal with it took every measure not to come in contact with the filthy abomination coming from her womb. I know men who are repulsed by the idea of having sex of any kind with a woman while she is on her period. People hate talking about it, its an easy way to get blocked or removed from social media sites. I’ve been in relationships where the other person learns to avoid you for about a week around that time.
Rupi Kaur makes a striking point with an Instagram photo and a caption.
How is it that we are okay with seeing violence and gore on TV and in porn, where the blood being shed may cost a life; yet we are not okay with seeing a few tablespoons of blood that that has the potential to create one?
There are a lot of theories surrounding this hatred, or jealousy, or fear or whatever you may call it. Some say that it’s the reverse of Freuds ‘Penis Envy’ which they call ‘Womb Envy.’ The idea that men see themselves as so powerful and yet cannot reproduce the species themselves. Others call it Male Fragility, that the media and the world must be tailored so carefully to the likings of the ideal male. None of those take into account the women who have fallen trap to this disgust and hatred of periods.
I, like Rupi Kaur and many others think this needs to change. This isn’t difficult, it is simply a matter of changing the way we think about it. Kaur puts it so beautifully, periods are love, labour, life, selflessness and striking beauty. Next time you find ourself getting down on your own period, remind yourself how selfless the pain is, how miraculous the whole process is. Take it as a chance for self love rather than self hate, have a hot shower, get a great work out, masturbate yourself to self-congratulating, and potentially pain relieving orgasm. Celebrate your ability to bleed for a week without dying. For those of you reading this far who don’t get them, help the people in your life who do. Bring home chocolate for your mom or sister, give your partner a massage, open a dialogue about if sex during their period is off limits or something they might like (there are plenty of ways to make it work!) I’ve heard of partners who do care packages of sorts, even just cuddles help.
Rather than calling this an illness, a weakness and a disgrace, we should see it as the miracle it is that takes strength and grace to persevere. I’ve spent a lot of time working on how I view my period. I continue to remind myself how miraculous it is, and that it should be celebrated rather than scorned. I hope after reading this you will pledge yourselves to do the same!