Mistress Menstruation and All of Her Frustrations
16 years old when Mistress Menstruation came to visit me, a late bloomer they said. As if I was some flower that had blossomed out of season. Like all flowers my fate was sealed, I was to decay in time, unless a bee were to carry my pollen and a different version of me were to live, and so on for eternity. I was hushed about, shamed for the crimson colour that had appeared from within me, and I hid best I could once a month. Yet the boys did not receive such treatment, my very brothers walked around all proud, never were they hushed into silence when the words surrounding blood came up. Never were they shamed for being who they are and for something they cannot control. The words “she must be on her period” ring through my head as if someone held a stethoscope to my ears and screamed into the diaphragm. Those words defeated all my purpose, my pain, my accomplishments.I was debased because someone, somewhere said “all women are moody and angry on their period” and that became the stereotype, and the excuse. My mother offered no real explanation and she said to be wary of what others said to me. I give her no blame because she was taught the same, and the ones before her may have received no warning at all. But then how am I to learn what is happening in my own body. How do I stop it when it crumbles before me and I do not realize that this a cramp and maybe a painkiller will help. Who do I tell when the pain in my chest and the pain in my breast is worse than the rest, when they all turn to me and say “hush you are a woman and this is all for the best.” Who do I turn to when I’m in the middle of nowhere, I have miscalculated and now the scarlet river in my uterus has opened it’s dam and there is not a menstrual product in sight. The store charges me 10 dollars or more, and don’t forget the pink tax for a pack which I should have for free. I use it for a basic necessity, one I cannot control, and yet the government decides they are in control of my body, my temple, even though they come bearing no offerings. I fear asking those around me, afraid my very own fellow woman may look at me in disgust. So I have silenced myself, I have remained quiet, but for how long? Until when do we take the mockery from men, get shamed by our own, silenced by society’s taboos, and empty our pockets for a basic necessity. Now this may not be everyone’s experience regarding menstruation but it is a reality for many. When I first heard that there were girls that get period parties I was in shock. There were people in the world who are able to celebrate menstruation? I later thought why not, it’s a coming of age event, it can be frustrating and scary to get your period so why not lighten the mood a little. And unfortunately I also learned that there was a heavy taboo surrounding periods, that in some places girls and women on their periods are seen as “impure” and therefore are separated from others. Now imagine, India the country with the world’s second biggest population at about 1.366 billion people, and 662.90 million women; only 12% of this population has access to sanitary products. The rest resort to using old rags and even saw dust as an alternative, both of which are unhygienic and can cause serious problems, like reproductive and urinary tract infections (Global Citizen). Oftentimes these girls miss out on crucial opportunities, their education is hindered, these factors increase the likelihood of them entering child marriages and experiencing an early pregnancy, malnourishment, domestic violence, and pregnancy complications (Global Citizen). The taboo around periods have caused problems such as teasing in schools, and shame around having the period in general. This culture of shame disempowers women, having negative mental impacts on them as well. Periods aren’t shameful, they should be celebrated and taught about in schools. Education surrounding periods is just as important as access to sanitary products. In many third world countries despite teachers having the understanding and capability to teach about menstruation they choose not to in fear of embarrassing the boys in the class and to avoid teasing, and so if it is taught it is done very poorly. The ending of period poverty and menstruation stigma is long overdue, governments around the world need to take action and realize that they are denying many women and girls their basic human rights. As head of human rights at WASH United, Hannah Neumeyer said, “women and girls have human rights, and they have periods. One should not defeat the other.” Even on my journey I didn’t learn nearly enough about periods, how I should deal with them, and what consists of a normal period. Intense pains, heavy flows, extreme fatigue among other extreme symptoms, are not always normal and warrant consulting a doctor about. I live in a first world country, if this is the state of a so-called “one of the best countries to live in” I can’t imagine how bad it really is in third world countries. This is a call to raise awareness for Mistress Menstruation and all her frustrations.
Source: Sanchez, E., & Rodriguez, L. (2019, February 05). Period poverty: Everything you need to know. Retrieved from https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/periodpoverty-everything-you-need-to-know