Why My Favourite Colour Is Red

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.

 leak

(Click to see 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!

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Fraternity men speak out about sexual violence

Sigma Chi, Theta Psi (Waterloo) chapter have recently posted a video pledging themselves against sexual violence. This comes in cannon with a host of other videos and projects that get men on board talking about the issue. These include but are not limited to projects such as It’s On Us, He For She, and #Project97.

As Lily Jay stated in her introduction for the VP of the USA speaking on the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign, when allies stand up, it allows survivors to be free. Project 97 is named after the Canadian statistic that 97% of sexual assaults go unreported, which is astounding given that in 2009 over 472 000 women reported this having happen to them. That many women are affected by these crimes, and that’s only a portion of the victims, as people who are Trans are more likely than cisgendered women to be victims, and there are also proportion of men who have also been victim to these crimes. These statistics should be shocking to me, but they aren’t. As a young women who recently graduated from a post-secondary institution, these statistics are all too familiar to me.

Seeing groups of men who are notoriously known for being perpetrators, such as fraternities and athletes pledge themselves as allies is surreal. For someone who has been an advocate against sexual assault for years, it brings a feeling of elation, like progress is being made. I can only speak to how I feel about this as a woman. Most young women I know have a story to tell. Whether they have experienced being cat called while walking down the street, being grabbed or touched in a bar, being followed home from school, being assaulted by a stranger, or even by a family member or friend. No matter if these stories have been told, or if they are secret, they have a power over us. They instil fear in us, so much that we illegally carry pepper spray, or buy cat shaped key chains with sharp ears that we can hold in our hands while walking at night. As Lily said, this is constantly in our minds, we are bound by this reality.

This kind of campaign is more of what we need. Seeing men’s groups on my own campus such as Delta Upsilon take part in “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” and walking alongside Slut Walk not only shows victims that they have allies, bit helps to discourage perpetrators as it’s not socially accepted by their peers. Intersectionality of beliefs is on the rise and I couldn’t be happier. The feminist wave that didn’t believe allies are welcome is over. I hope this means a decrease in sexual assault is near. The numbers are far too high, but if we can decrease that even by one, that is better than nothing. We also desperately need to be implementing better after-care for victims of crimes of this nature. Expanding the conversation on such topics is how we eliminate these norms within a culture. I’m so please to see this kind of campaign proliferating. I’m proud to say I know men who will stand beside me so that my burden is not as heavy.