Say it aloud – Periods.

How would you feel if you are judged by profuse sweating? Oops. The society already judges that, too many body deodorants in the market already. What if you are denied certain basic rights of activity and movement because of that? Uh. That makes sense now. Replace sweating with ‘red staining’ of a woman. The menstrual cycle. Now that I got your attention, I will tell you why it is such a big issue.

The White-angels to rescue
The White-Angels to rescue

Today, I read of Kiran Gandhi’s mini-feat of running a London marathon without wearing a tampon (so stylish this word is basically, The sanitary pad) in order to raise awareness about this “unspeakable” topic altogether. This as an issue has been bothering the womankind for quite some time already, for one, we are women. Two, we are expected to hide our basic biological features. Starting with our body parts, ending with our body processes.

Years ago, the day I was told that I have become a ‘mature’ woman, I was given a lot of social illogical ‘baggage’, which dint include my liberal and sensible parents. In fact my dad (an advocate) was so open about the issue that he started speaking of the legal implications of sexual abuse in general terms. But the rest (= most of the society minus them) gave me a lot of free advice on how this should mark a change in my social behavior and triggered something called ‘peer consciousness’. I go to the school the very next day to write my exam, as expected, I get weird looks from my classmates. Guys giggling for reasons they are not sure and girls panicking for the ostracization they are soon going to embrace.

Periods, people, is just a phase, representative of a girl evolving to a fertile woman. As simple as that: it doesn’t represent divinity nor does it invoke bad forces. Menstrual taboo, as believed by many is a first world problem. NO, it isn’t. It is not very rare that we hear of women in the rural and slum areas dying of cervical cancer because they don’t have the basic knowledge about this. For gory details, you may understand that they use sand, mud, straw between their legs to handle that bleeding. Because it is easily understood how often this as a topic is being spoken there, considering it’s near absence in urban settlements.

During their cycle, which is almost once every 28 days, women become slightly weak as they are losing out on some blood. And cramps for uterine contractions. A change in that number is slightly indicative of her hormonal imbalances. That’s all about it.

But the issue has unsubstantiated extrapolations, thanks to the “sh-sh” ness amongst most of us. Earlier women were made to sit outside the house as the kitchen work involved a lot of physical strain. And temples usually located on hill-tops, assumed a holy dip in the river before entering. Then, forbidding ‘menstrual’ women in such places made a little sense. But now? You guess it.

Our religious preachers (Mind you, I dint use the word religion), though usually split on different accounts of ideology; stand united on this aspect – “Impurity of a bleeding woman”. Exceptions – Sikh, Bahá’í Faith and a very few more. Yes, I am not denying how girls are given presents and are a part of a big celebration of their first period. But, things after that are not normal. They are not expected to talk such ‘embarrassing’ routine and even more, to do rituals to purify such a ‘dirty’ phase. Now, this got really nasty. Not to mention the ‘black-carry bag plus creepy sign language’ hiatus while purchasing sanitary pads from a medical shop.

It is undeniable that there are a lot of other ‘important’ issues that make the women’s life troublesome. But, this out of all shames her and makes her feel bad about something that is not even in her control or wish. This, relatively, is an easy battle – we can fight up to it by educating boys what this whole drama is all about.

Empathy factor is taken care of and they no longer shall stand ignorantly silent on this issue. Such things can’t be solved by political slogans or legislations, they need social awareness. The more you discuss it, the more outreach it gets. Parental comfort needs to be created – unless the basic family group is empowered to handle this, it can’t sustain for long.

The curriculum of the biology textbooks should involve detailing on reproductive systems and the social implications it carries. Yes, the respective teachers should speak more about that chapter, not deliberately push it to be a ‘self-read’ part.

Blue color to represent the stain in advertisements? Red is the color, please. The crimson red. Let movies and books speak more on this. Write about a woman who has her normal periods, for a change without the exaggerated PMS mode of para-normal activity.

Let the menstrual activism take its deserved space in our gender-skewed stereotype overflowing mindsets. The cycle and the burden, we take on every month, all our lives, is the reason for the existence of a next generation. Reason enough to beat this taboo?

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