The first question I asked my mom after I got my periods was, ‘For how many years more, will this happen?’ Don’t get me wrong, I was well aware of the scientific facts and biological processes but nothing I had read had prepared me for it. I used to and still have unimaginable cramps which along with the fact that I react weirdly to all painkillers, is pure torture. The sanitary pad woes were a ghastly nightmare in themselves. I also remember, that mom never ever allowed me take an off. She told me this was something very natural and I would have to learn to live with it. So I did that.
We had an open conversation about it at home. There was no hiding of the fact from my father or my brother. My father would get my sanitary napkins from the shop and my brother would oblige my tantrums and bitchy mood swings for those five days every month. So, even when I went away to college and my guy friends asked me about my low mood, I wouldn’t hesitate to tell them that I was on my periods.
Since I wasn’t into much praying, I never really got into the whole tussle of entering it while on my periods. Same went for the kitchen since I wouldn’t be bothered to fetch my own glass of water. Not much has changed. I still don’t go to temple and there is no restriction from my kitchen since I am the queen of it!
Given my background, I have been quite perturbed, annoyed and even amused at the whole issue of periods these past few years. There are of course some issues that I support, some I can’t really claim to be bothered about and then there are those few I completely disagree with. For starters, I don’t get the concept of free-bleeding, not because it is gross but because it is unhygienic. I also don’t appreciate the period leave that companies are offering. Trust me, while on a marketing level it might seem oh-so-cool, it is not so on the ground. Imagine you missing an important meeting because you are on your “period-leave”. Forget professionalism, how is that fair to your colleagues and team mates? My two cents, if you are unable to function at all (which isn’t a possibility), quit. Otherwise, suck it up and work through it.
I really am not bothered by the whole temple entry issue because I personally don’t get it. Whether you flaunt the religious reasons or swear by the scientific facts, I don’t get it. Period. Pun intended. And to all those fighting for it, do you really want to be somewhere you are not appreciated as a human being?
Coming to the issue of Sanitary pads, I support every woman who is fighting against the GST bracket it has been placed in. But I also urge you all to look at some of the better options available around today. Something as simple and revolutionary as the Menstrual cup, has been around for a long time. While I understand hesitance, maybe it is time you give it a serious thought.
All in all, sometimes I feel there is at times a little too much noise about something as natural and simple as periods. The changes will not happen unless you start at the grass root level.
- Use the word Period or Menstrual Cycle. Stop hiding behind Aunt Flow or being down !!! Enunciate, MEN-STRU-A-TION!!! Loud and clear.
- When you buy your Sanitary Pads, ditch the brown paper bag or the black polythene. Own the fact that you are a healthy woman.
- Talk to your sons. Teach them that menstruation cycles are not to be giggled at or shied away from. Use it as a launching pad for all the sex talks you have to give. Be open and invite questions. Help the boys understand it so that they don’t grown up into men who claim PMS as a reason every time a woman is pissed off at them.
- If you need time off from work, stop pretending you have a headache. Tell them your Period cramps are killing you and you need a chocolate bar STAT! If nothing else, it comes in handy in embarrassing people into giving you some time off. However, don’t use it blatantly as an excuse to shirk responsibilities.
- Accept the fact that during your Periods there will be detours from your normal routine and behavior. Own them. Stop tying that emotional sweater on your waist!
Remember, while people go gaga over the free-bleed movement, lash out at the government for taxes or applaud the companies who treat you like a fragile vase during your periods, you will still go through those not-so-awesome 5-day hormonal trip every freaking month till your ovaries decide to retire. Till then, enjoy your womanhood.