Aunt Flo, Shark Week, Crimson Tide/Wave, Chums, Time of the month, Lady Business and my personal favourite – The red wedding. All the words might confuse the guys but girls are way too familiar with these euphemisms.
In our country, periods are only to be discussed behind closed doors and in hushed tones. Even then, no direct reference is to be made, only one of the 5,000 code words may be used. This topic is such a big taboo, that one of the top brands that sell sanitary napkins is known as ‘Whisper’. God forbid, somebody may hear you talking about a totally natural biological process female human body goes through.
Recently, the trailer for a Bollywood movie called “Padman” released and has garnered a lot of support and appreciation from all over the country. This makes me very happy, because menstruation is an issue that really needs to be talked about. The tagline goes like – “Superhero hai yeh pagla.” No doubt, he is a superhero, but to learn that only one in a million was concerned enough about his wife’s and sister’s well-being to do something about it, is heartbreaking. It’s not that men don’t know anything about it, they just choose to ignore it. One can say that this is because they are conditioned to ignore it since childhood, but they are taught a lot of other things and I don’t see all men following those teachings religiously.
This is my story of initiation into this super secret women’s only society – When I was nine years old, my cousin was on her period and acting very dodgy. So, I asked my mum what was up with her and my mother was caught unaware because she hadn’t prepared for this conversation yet. Nonetheless, she cryptically told me, “Your sister has a disease and you might have it someday.” I’m sure many girls were told the same thing. This needs to stop now. Periods are not a sickness, if anything they make you stronger, I mean which man can bleed for five to seven days continuously and still go about his business without complaining? In some parts of the country (south and east) the first period is celebrated – when I read this I rejoiced! Alas, there are a few people who actually respect women for the goddesses that they are. But after a little more digging I found out that although there is a celebration, later the girls are subjected to third class fourth class treatment.
While I was in college I attended a seminar featuring Goonj founder Anshu Gupta and that was the first time I learned that not all women have access to sanitary napkins or tampons. I was horrified to learn that an item that was a basic necessity for me, was a luxury for most (these women use rags, ash, sand and in a pinch- plastic. Don’t believe me? Read this.) Not only that, in many places women are forced to live frugally and in isolation during their periods. During a time when they deserve to be treated like queens, they are forced to live like they are untouchables. Everybody needs to realize that a woman menstruates because she has the capability of giving birth to another human, she creates another life and you treat her like sh*t. If men could do that they would have us worship at their altar.
I am rooting for this movie to be a blockbuster. I hope it is everything it promises to be and is successful in sensitizing people about menstruation and teaching them that it is not a sickness and it certainly does not make a woman ‘impure’!
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