Let’s Not Celebrate Our Periods, We Need To Learn About Them First
Merfyn talks about how celebration of our periods may be masking a deeper issue of education.
As a gender questioning person, menstruation is something particularly concerning to me…
As a gender questioning person, menstruation is something particularly concerning to me, and with certainty, is deemed to ultimately become a centrepiece in my identity. Nonetheless, the rising tide of modern fourth-wave-feminism that lauds the monthly gift, sells pictures of it on badges for 50p a pop and struts free bleeding has definitely no relation to my identity whatsoever. Although I may not be afraid to stand up and ask for a sanitary towel at a dinner table, or to a newfound friend, it does not mean that I have any positive outlook on the whole affair. This new movement of accepting menstruation and celebrating it, whether our identity is female or not, is not my thing. In fact, it is perfectly neutral to me, a transgender person, in and of itself.
The fact of the matter is, society still can’t understand the period, or live up to it.
However it is the bloody instance that throughout time has been utilised in the oppression of women and others blessed with a uterus alike, and it is this antagonistic oppression that leads new feminists to aim to celebrate their bodily functions. It is still being used now: Donald Trump lashing out at Megyn Kelly, referencing menstruation as a tactic to derail her as a debate show host when she dared questioned him, as she was hired to do. It has been so throughout time that women have been slandered and thrown out of male spheres for having periods, such as Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which seems to gain a legitimate criticism of a woman not being able to govern when undergoing hormonal changes during menstruation (Even if Clinton is 68, a full 17 years older than the average age for the menopause). In areas of India and Africa, women, culturally, are still locked away when they have their periods, and are prevented from attending school. Transgender men are thrown out, and so have to deal with periods and passing as a man, a double ordeal. However, no bloody instance has been more famous than Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’; maybe we could all take her advice on how to hit back at the bullies. The fact of the matter is, society still can’t understand the period, or live up to it.
It is miseducation that drives this oppression, and I believe that we do not need to praise the period and boldly express it, but educate about it instead. How can we rally around the identity of having a period, when we, the people experiencing and not experiencing, are so uneducated about it? In the case of King’s ‘Carrie’, although fictional, the freak out over blood running down her leg was to blame for her misguided mother that subsequently locked her away to pray instead of nurturing her, believing Carrie to be the devil. A similar case of neglect caused a charity to be founded, the Samaritans. When a 14-year-old girl killed herself because she mistook her period for an STD, Chad Varah set up the charity in 1953 to offer help to suicidal people. If the poor girl was educated on what her period was she might have not even contemplated taking her own life in the first place.
It neglects the LGBT+ society that has members who may well have periods, but are not women…
We have come a long way in the UK, with better sexual education in schools, online and in the household, but now it’s time to take this globally. I find the feminist movement of being crude and explosive in their expression of the joining of femininity to the period overwhelming and naïve. It is a reminder of the burning bra days and the hostility of radical movements. It neglects those in developing countries such as rural India, China, or South America that will punish those who have a period or miseducate them on how to take care of themselves. It neglects religious purity and the prudish natures of first world societies that ridicule women into hiding. It neglects the LGBT+ society that has members who may well have periods, but are not women, and so are rejected from the fourth wave movement. In short, we shouldn’t celebrate our menstrual cycle, but educate about it until it becomes a normal, casual acceptance in conversation and society across the globe.
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