The stigma surrounding the fact that women have periods still exists in 2020. Although since the beginning of time, women usually bleed once a month.
And it has been a glorified joke for far too long.
Periods themselves are hard enough to deal with. Tampons and sanitary pads come at an extortionate cost; Plan International UK found that 1 in 10 girls in the UK can’t even afford period products.
And that’s not including the painkillers women pay to survive the cramps.
Fortunately, women now have a voice in society. More than ever there is a need for women’s menstrual cycles to be accepted. Because women shouldn’t be suppressed about something so natural, and the way to encourage this normalisation is to discuss it.
Research conducted by The Guardian said, “One in five girls and young women in the UK are teased or bullied about their periods,”
The study was based on Plan International UK’s survey that included 1,000 girls. Raising awareness about the negative impact of shaming girls and young women for having periods. Statistics showed that 66% of their survey pool missed school because of their periods.
Yet, people still fail to see the impact of this. It’s time to acknowledge the risk period shaming imposes on the mental well-being of young women and girls.
Female students gathered outside the Shree Sahajanand Girls Institute (SSGI) in protest after 68 girls who attend the university said they were forced to strip and show their underwear to female teachers on Feb 11.
All because the SSGI is run by a wealthy and conservative Hindu religious group that actively oppresses women on their periods. Despite the school authorities attempting to get the girls to stay quiet about the incident.
The hostel where the students board are requested to register when they get their periods. Stripping impressionable young women of their privacy so to ‘help’ officials identify when and which students are menstruating.
Only to then enforce restrictions on them.
India’s conservative outlook on periods should encourage societies acceptance of it. Because women shouldn’t be stopped from doing something as simple as attending school or banned from places of worship all because they’re menstruating.
Which is why this talk isn’t just for women; it’s for everyone.
It’s for the men in and out of our lives who still have no idea what periods are. They’re not just something gross that happens in women’s panties. Or a monthly milestone that relieves everyone because we don’t have surprise guests in their wombs.
An immeasurable amount of women all around the world bleed once a month. Women you walk by on campus may or may not have them too. Your mum, your sister, your aunt and even your grandmother.
Yet, their sons, brothers, nephews, and grandsons actively make a mockery of it. And this is the price of their stupidity.
YouGov, a polling company, conducted a study that found 43 per cent of girls stated that boys teased or joked about periods.
And it’s unfair. There shouldn’t be any shame surrounding something so natural, but Clue, a menstrual health app, discovered around 5,000 different wordings and terms to refer to women’s menstruation cycles.
“That time of the month”. “Menses”. “Red rivers of the panties”. “Mother nature’s vacay”.
All these euphemisms to refer to periods. All of it because of the shame we have systematically made to feel about it. Women are so indirect that we’ve come up with so many different ways to hide the word ‘periods’ like it’s a dirty secret we have to hide.
The real shame is that women’s universal passage into womanhood has been sullied. To the point where young, impressionable teenage girls, have associated shame and humiliation to periods and menstrual blood before liberation and excitement.
However, society may be closer to ending period poverty that originally thought.
On a brighter note, Scotland’s parliament recently approved a bill that would make Scotland the first country to end “period poverty.”. A momentous step forward for women across the country. Despite the huge amount of work it will take, knowing the government is aware of the issue is a step forward itself.
According to BBC, “The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill would create a legal duty on the Scottish government to ensure that period products are available free of charge “for anyone who needs them”.”
It is the first step on a seemingly very long journey towards acceptance, but one to be celebrated. Because with every voice that speaks out about the injustice of this ridiculous taboo, women are closing on the verge of bleeding in peace.
Featured image credit: LoveLibra.com
Deputy Editor of Brig Newspaper. Fourth year journalism and English student at the University of Stirling. Lover of covering social issues and creator of 'The Talk' column for everyone who needs to hear it.