I recently shared a Vagabomb post in which men talked about buying sanitary pads. My intention was to create more informed conversation about this totally normal (though annoying) bodily function. The sad truth remains that not all young (and old) girls have the ability or the capacity to access affordable sanitary care and thus end up compromising on basic hygiene. This got me thinking over the day and I decided to start a mini awareness campaign of my own. Let’s start my clearing some concepts and breaking some myths.
- What does a period feel like?
Annoying, for most part. No, honestly. There is no such thing as a “Happy Period“. A non-painful period is still extremely annoying. To begin with, we have to remember when it is due, plan for it (clothes, supplies, down time, etc.) and if we don’t, we have to be equipped to deal with the aftermath. Imagine having to take breaks every 4 hours, deal with nausea, food cravings, cramps, sore boobs, swollen feet, and an assortment of aches while getting through your regular day. Yeah, it’s no picnic.
- What helps?
Rest, tea, and some space. Yes, people. Give us some space. Don’t ask me why I look bloated. Don’t push me if I say I don’t feel like joining you for coffee. And for god’s sake don’t ask me why I am quiet. Not everyone has a bad period, but there are some of us who can barely get through the day without throwing up a few times. So, back off and give us some space to deal with it coz unlike you, we know how to. There are times when we don’t feel like eating (coz, nausea!) so don’t lecture us about skipping meals. I’d rather starve than throw up 2 hours later.
Sleep, hot showers, healthy food, plenty of water, a light walk, and good back support go a long way in making those days tolerable.
- What doesn’t help?
PMS jokes. I don’t know who came up with this bright idea to ask every quiet/irritated/zoned out girl if she was on her period/PMSing. It’s not funny. There. I’ve said it. Not only is that joke in poor taste, it is regressive and unfunny. So, cut it out.
The public shaming. Don’t wrap our pads in newspapers or cover them in black polythene. We bought them in the shop in front of 10 other people. They know, we know, and so do you. Who exactly are we hiding them from? And what exactly is there to hide?
Perfumed sanitary pads. Don’t even bother to ask for an explanation. Yes, they exist. Why? I do not know. Who came up with them? Some idiot who was desperate to hold on to his job, probably. Do they help? No, they worsen everything. At the risk of too much information, I’ll give you a hint: imagine the mix of bad blood, plastic, and cheap perfume. Now try not to throw up.
- Why am I talking about this?
Because India still remains a largely backward country. Not very long ago, I heard my male colleague say that everyone (girls and boys) should learn to cook. Before I could beam at him with pride, he said: “Because girls aren’t allowed in the kitchen during those 5 days…” Yes, an educated man in a well respected organisation said that. And he happens to be one of the many in this country who hold such regressive views on the subject.
So, it is time we brought about a change. School girls shouldn’t be ashamed to have to speak about their discomfort. A girl shouldn’t have to buy sanitary pads like a ninja carrying out a stealth operation. PMS shouldn’t be treated like a joke.
There shouldn’t be tampon taxes because sanitary pads are a necessity, and not a luxury.
- What do I need you to do?
Start a conversation. Talk about menstrual hygiene in a respectful and clear manner. Create awareness about available, affordable, and re-usable alternatives in sanitary care. Shut down regressive talks, thoughts, and acts. Be supportive to my kind.
That said, periods aren’t a standardised experience. They are different for different people in different phases of their lives. Read that again. Yes, your experience can change depending on your age, medical history, and the level of stress/change in your life. There are delays in due dates and changes in levels of discomfort when we are stressed/ undergo a lifestyle change including moving to another state/country, change in work shifts, weight loss, weight gain, eating habits, and ton of other things. So, no. Periods don’t come with a manual for quick fixes (which is what makes them annoying for most part).
So, I urge you to make an attempt to get rid of this stigma associated with menstruation. Talk about it. Girls, use it as a pass for some TLC, or don’t. It’s your choice. Boys, no more jokes about this. And society, just shut up about your backward, unscientific claims. Coz, I really don’t give a damn about your pickle.