Defined as the regular discharge of blood and mucous tissues, menses, from the inner lining of the uterus. Exiting through the vagina. Menstruation is a natural phenomenon that takes place in a woman’s body on a monthly basis.
Menstruation is often perceived to be a taboo or shame. There are innumerable people in society, living in denial. All the way from considering women impure to enter holy shrines. To being restricted from the kitchen during periods. Being forbidden to touch pickle jars, because touching it may decay the pickles inside…. The list goes on and on. Since time immemorial, menstruation has been stigmatized. Women are bound to undergo through all these brutal “realities”. Solely because a ‘few’ find it gross or are not able to accept the fact that we are women. Women are individuals who go through this biological process from puberty till menopause.
Taboos and Menstruation
All this goes way back towards the past decades from generations to generations. Where patriarchy has been deeply embedded. How women were supposed to be subdued by the shackles of the [so called superior] male. (Note: in brackets because the so-called superior male is not a reality anymore. Women have come a long way. Fighting for equality. Making sure that nothing should be confirmed within the walls of gender superiority). It goes way back, towards the four walls of the house. Where a woman is not supposed to initiate conversations or ‘talk about periods’ with the male members of the family. It goes back to the years when women were isolated and were made to feel unholy or shameful. Solely because they go through this process every month.
But what people at that time failed (in some cases STILL fail to) do is to normalize menstruation. There are a few people who still fail to recognize its importance. Everyone should be accepting. One should be able to contribute towards educating oneself. One should stay towards the right side of the situation by empowering and speaking up about it.
The truth about menstruation
In fact, what really baffles me is how the selected few find it disgusting and shameful. When in reality the associated physical pain that an individual endures during menstruation, is commendable. What is really important is to break down this stigma that has been going on for generations.
The way this stigma can be done away with is by ensuring education about the process of menstruation. Instead of being cynical or having a vague concept about it. This goes out to our education system where skimming a few pages of the reproduction chapter is not enough. People should be educated and should be aware of the processes involved during the menstruation cycle. It is a normal, natural, healthy process.
It’s too much to blanket the same excuse again and again. Saying non-menstruators would not understand because they do not experience it. It’s time every person be educated. They should try to understand that mensuration is a monthly process that is experienced by women. The process of menstruation is really essential in bringing life into this world.
I remember this incident that took place with me while purchasing a sanitary napkin at the nearby convenience store. I remember the shopkeeper running out of newspapers to cover the newly purchases sanitary napkin. He took quite a while looked here and there for a sheet of newspaper. Seeing him, I simply replied- “leave it, bhaiya, I will just take it.”
As he heard my reply, he got flustered and replied- “that way only?”. With an amused and shocked expression on his face. I got really irritated and simply said- “yeah so what? Do you have a problem?”. After blatantly staring at me for a few seconds, he muttered an okay and handed me the sanitary napkin.
What I am trying to point out is how no one should be awkward to talk about Menstruation. We definitely should not feel awkward while purchasing sanitary napkins. Why? Because it’s normal. Be it your mum, your sister, your aunt or your girlfriend, they all go through it. It’s time we stop shushing and whispering about menstruation. It is definitely time to stop towards referring to it as ‘it’.