To be honest, as a woman, I am sick of menstruation being such a taboo subject. I do not think that we should be so afraid to talk about something that happens or has happened to more than half the population of William Jewell College, and the world, every month. Just think of how many euphemisms there are for a period: that time of the month, Aunt Irma has come to visit, Mother Nature’s monthly gift, surfing the crimson wave. It seems that people will say anything to avoid actually telling someone that they are on their period. I don’t get why it is such a big deal.
I remember being in middle school and desperately trying to hide my pad from everyone else in the class because I was so worried about what they would think. One day, a pad I had been keeping secret went missing, and I felt like I might die from embarrassment. Even today, I find myself sticking tampons up my sleeve to conceal them as I walk to the bathroom.
I still feel that there is a social stigma and shame attached to the idea of a woman on her period, as if she is something to be afraid of or ridiculed. Yet, it is so natural and normal. Once a month, unless a woman is past menopause, pregnant or on certain forms of birth control, her ovaries release an egg, and if it is not fertilized, her uterus will shed its lining, and she will have her period. This is not some terrifying, alien process of which women should be ashamed; it is healthy and biological.
This is not to say that being on my period is an awesome, empowering experience. Usually it is pretty awful. It can be gross and painful, but that does not mean that I should be afraid to tell people why I want to lie in bed all day. It also doesn’t mean that all women experience their periods the same way. For some women, like me, it can make them tired and give them cramps that feel like hot knives are being twisted around in their abdomens. For others it can affect their moods, make them overly hungry or make them lose their appetites completely.
Because all women experience their periods differently, it is important not to make generalizations about them. For example, if your friend, who happens to be a woman, seems sad or upset for no reason you understand that is no excuse to write off her emotions because she “is just on her period.” Even if her period does affect her emotions, that does not make them any less valid or important.
I think the best way to try and turn periods into something less socially forbidden and to avoid these generalizations is to talk and be open about menstruation. When you see that a woman is feeling upset, ask her what is wrong. If she says she’s on her period, do not be afraid and find an excuse to run away (which has happened to me); keep talking to her and ask her questions. And, women, next time you go to the bathroom to change your tampon or your pad, do not hide it as if it is some kind of illegal paraphernalia. Embrace your period and start talking about it.