Are We Still Ashamed Of Our Periods?

Image credit: Aaron Burden via Unsplash

People seem to be able to get over a lot of things. From kink to polyamory, chatter over pooping habits to golden showers, alternative lifestyles and bodily functions are starting to become normalized and find their way into the mainstream.

One thing people just cannot get over: Periods.

Whenever I see a female colleague or friend go to the bathroom, I see them do some James Bond shit with their tampons. They stick them up their sleeves, in their socks, or in the waist bands of their pants. Whenever any of my girlfriends want to discuss their periods, their voices shift to a quiet whisper.

No one wants to admit they’ve got their period. “I just don’t need people to know that I’m bleeding out of my vagina. Why do people need to know that, anyway? No one wants to hear that information,”said one of my kickass, feminist friends.

We’ve come so far in the realm of women’s rights and confidence. Obviously, there is a long way to go, but we’ve made strides. Period shame is not the only thing holding us back, but it is definitely a factor.

Everything in the mainstream media is designed to make us feel like crap about our periods. Tampons themselves were invented by men, who do not own vaginas or know anything about vaginas.

Women’s health brand and period pioneers FLEX conducted a survey of over 150 women, asking them about the shame they feel surrounding their periods. Ninety percent of respondents hide their tampon while walking to the bathroom, and 43% admitted that their period affects their social interactions.

Ninety percent of us HIDE our tampons when we go to the bathroom? Really?! Forty-three percent of us don’t do stuff or talk to people or have fun because we’re on the rag? Is this real life?!

We vagina owners are ashamed of our periods. It’s the thing we can’t get behind. And why? There is no perfect answer, but I’m thinking it has something to do with the fact that cis-men don’t get periods and therefore do not understand them.

Everything in the mainstream media (besides dope publications like Teen Vogue and Ravishly, of course) are designed to make us feel like crap about our periods. Tampons themselves were invented by men, who do not own vaginas or know anything about vaginas.

Modern marketing having anything to do with tampons, pads, liners, Midol, etc., is all centered around “controlling the flow” or “keeping your secret.” According to the FLEX survey, the majority of respondents — 58% to be exact — were taught that talking about their periods is impolite.

Excuse me? What secret? What is impolite about discussing a normal bodily function? Last time I checked, 50% of the population has a period. So, what the actual effe is with all this secrecy?

Can we talk about periods for a minute here sans shame? Because periods may come with god-awful cramps, but having a period is NORMAL and healthy. It means your reproductive organs are doing what they’re SUPPOSED to be doing. If a pre-menopausal person with a vagina is not having a period, THAT is when we should be concerned.

Female-bodied individuals can bleed for 3-7 days without dying. Can you take a minute to appreciate that? We bleed so that our uteruses can slough off extra cells. A uterus can hold an actual human life. A vagina can push a human life, something 20X its size, out of it and bounce back to its normal size.

Of course, all of this shame is rooted in the patriarchal bullshit that has been stifling female-bodied persons from breaking the glass ceilings since the agricultural revolution. Yeah, dudes. I’d be worried too. Vagina owners are strong AF.

We’re considered dirty or gross when we have our periods. We’re “down for the count.” We’re not “our best.” In fact, 51% of those surveyed by FLEX noted that their period makes them feel dirty.

There are still parts of the world where women/vagina owners aren’t allowed inside their own home or community when they’re menstruating. They’re seen as impure.

I believe the scientific term for all of this thinking is “total and utter bullshit.”

We have got to stop this nonsense. We’ve got to stop letting people make us feel badly about our bodies. Can we take a moment to recognize how messed up it is that we've normalized every single bodily function except the one that doesn’t affect cis-men? That’s so wildly indicative of the larger problems in society that it BLOWS my mind.

No more. No more of this shit. If we own our periods and stop being embarrassed about them, we take away the stigma and shame. Society is forced to change when people force it to. We’re not some tiny minority of the population, which can make effecting visible change especially challenging. We’re half of the world.

Don’t you remember the Women’s March? Don’t you remember how much joy and pride we had? That’s the kind of joy we need to channel for every single thing that involves being a woman or having female body parts. We need to take PRIDE in absolutely everything.

It’s only when we stand up and are willing to openly talk about our bodies that we start to make this happen. Who’s with me?

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