After turning 18, when I could push back people’s attempts to shove things down my throat with a sentence like “this is what society follows”, I started talking to women about several issues that plague their world – and most importantly, about things revolving around menstruation.
Seven years down the line, my calculations on the problems women face during menstruation are based on mixed reactions.
A woman on her periods is probably more on the plate of topics than a woman who has achieved the pinnacle of success in some field. The dos and don’ts range from the bizarre to the illogical and preposterous to the incomprehensible.
I am often told by women that a lady on her periods must stay away from temples, not offer prayers to god, not be allowed to even touch anything that is to be offered to god – and more along similar lines. However, I am often baffled at the thought that while women are subjected to such limitations, the deity at the Kamakhya Temple in Assam is not only revered as ‘shakti’ ; her ‘period blood’ is also taken as a ‘relic’ by devotees. But this isn’t all. While the menstruating goddess is worshipped here, it is said that women on their periods are not allowed inside the temple. Hypocrisy much?
If these problems were not enough, women’s adherence to such practices adds to the issue. It is said that education gives us reasoning power – but trust me, I have come across a lot of well-educated women who have, till date, practised the most illogical things when they are on their periods.
Women are often the ‘purest’ while menstruating. They can do what we men cannot. Let us first understand that a woman flushes out ‘impure blood’ from her body once every month. That act – and that act alone – helps their bodies get prepared for procreation.
On several occasions, I asked a couple of my close female friends if they could point out any logic behind the act of abstaining from praying to god during their periods. Many of them kept silent, but some threw a dangerous reply at me that confused me to no end. They told me, “I know it is wrong, but I have to follow this as I fear being reprimanded by my mother and god.”
I couldn’t have said anything more. While I see women around me taking the bull by its horns and addressing such hushed-up topics, there are some who still fear the ire of society for not following something that is perhaps weird and illogical in the first place.
Thus, it is not just the rules that matter. There’s also the issue of adherence by women who feel that it’s imperative to follow such things, even though they may also understand that the rules are misogynistic, oppressive – and above all, illogical. I believe such women should take a cue from the ones who are leading the charge against these practices these days – women who are above such pettiness, and those who have promised to change the way India thinks.
Before ending, I would like to say one last thing. While my write-up may be read, understood and believed by many, the impact among some women may well be ephemeral. They may feel that they should stand up, but they ma stand up only to sit back again, as their minds are still likely bound in shackles.
This Menstrual Hygiene Day, I hope women break the shackles and come forward and talk more freely about menstruation. I hope they stop hushing it up and start taking pride in it. I hope they do what they should have, long ago. Happy Menstrual Hygiene Day to all my friends!
Featured image used for representative purposes only.