Menstruation is something that literally half of the population of this world (all cisgender girls and women) have but there’s still so much shame attached to it that women cannot talk about it in public. It is something that we all read in school books, but that information is very limited and we all are left with curiosities in our mind regarding it. Many of the girls don’t even know what’s happening to them when they get their first period.
But boys have these curiosities too. Being a girl, you get to know some things when your first period comes. But boys don’t have that kind of knowledge. I remember in my school there was a workshop about menstruation and menstrual hygiene that took place for only the girls of Class VI to VIII. Our mothers were invited too. Looking back to it today, I think it helped me not to freak out when my first periods came. But the important part is that it was only for girls. Every month we were provided sanitary pads by the school. And in the middle of classes all the girls used to leave the class with their bags to a particular room to collect the packets and get back, everyone including boys and teachers knew where we were going but nobody actually talked about it in class with the boys.
There is a shame and stigma attached to the words “menstruation” and “periods”. It is seen as a taboo if a girl is discussing it with one of her male friends. I think this is how we further segregate boys and girls. And, to be very honest, teenage boys tend to be very disrespectful and unsympathetic. To enable boys to make them see why respecting girls and women is important, it is very important to talk to them and educate them together on topics like these.
What we need them to understand is that it is a biological process and is natural. It is very important to teach boys about menstruation and how it is universal. Schools and teachers should be able to clear the doubts and curiosities they have about it. I think the workshop that took place could have involved boys as well. The school can act and gather many other resources to be useful in ways it should be. The things we read about menstruation in the books are not enough to feed a teenager’s curiosity. Menstruation is a biological process and it is nothing to be ashamed about. It is better to talk to the children openly about it than make them revert to unreliable means of information.