I woke up from a seemingly peaceful sleep, feeling slightly uneasy. I tossed and turned on my bed, unwilling to get up till I finally received the surprise.
A punch in the gut later, I’m sitting on the toilet seat looking down at the drops of thick menstrual blood trickling down between my legs, down to the surface of the pot, dreamily mixing with the water below.
As I look down at the confirmation of my period’s arrival, I try to recall the whereabouts of meftal spas (life saviour) and my heating pad before I turn into Bella from the movie Twilight.
Does anyone remember her screaming and shouting as she gave birth to a half human, half vampire child? Well, every month, on the first day of my period, Bella and I become one, only there is no childbirth and no venom in my body – just my normal menstrual cycle, shaking my insides and blessing me with pain in my lower abdomen and for few other women their backs, legs, pelvis, etc. But let it be. I don’t want to sound too dramatic here; after all, one cannot complain because to complain and talk about discomfort would make us weak, as a few highly intelligent life forms often argue.
For a long time in my life, I was afraid to say that I needed to rest during my period, because I was told it was weak of me to miss a class for this reason. Like all other girls my age, I was supposed to ‘bear’ the pain. This menstruation day, I want to tell all women that it’s okay to give your body some rest, a day’s rest won’t stop your promotion, won’t reduce your marks or negatively affect your life in any manner.
When I got my period for the first time, it knocked my world upside down. Having received no pep talk on the subject, finding blood in my underwear was quite frightening to be honest. My mother came to my rescue and enlightened me about the changes in my body and most importantly, she told me that this was ‘normal’.
Today, I can’t trace back the exact moment when I realised that menstruation was a topic to be discussed in hushed tones, but I guess the society hammers the stigma into your brain as you grow up. The nonsensical black plastic bag achieves a weird satisfaction in not letting people see a sanitary napkin but at the same time know that it is being carried. Why do we have to black out a normal bodily function? What purpose does it solve? Why do girls try to hide their discomfort? Why can’t we say we are on our periods and not feeling on the top of the world? Can’t we just sit back and relax? Why is it preferred to say that someone is under the weather but not okay to say that a woman is on her period experiencing pain, excessive blood flow and rightfully needs rest?
The answer to most of my questions is ‘patriarchy’. The reason behind a normal body function turning into a taboo is born from patriarchy’s womb that has used everything possible to discriminate against, disrespect and destroy women. To break out of this, we need to talk. We need to talk about periods in school, colleges, in markets, in restaurants, at workplaces and everywhere possible. Because when you talk, you question and when you question, you challenge preconceived notions.
I’m starting to talk about it right here from this article. I’m seriously done with whispers, I want to stay free. The latter is literally better in my opinion. Talking about menstruation will open our eyes to the plethora of health issues attached to it, like the accessibility of sanitary pads, busting of myths related to women on period, pre-menstrual syndromes and more.
Men and women need to talk about it. Women need to share their experiences and not feel guilty about it or fear being judged at the workplace or at home. We need to tell our children about it in schools and not let them think that sanitary napkins are some sort of shoe soles or makeup accessory.
We need to share, inform, question and educate if we expect any form of change. Menstruation is not gross. Menstruation isn’t dirty. Stop vilifying it. It is not an evil red stream but something beautiful that reminds us of a woman’s power to create a new life.