Via my @imGoddess twitter account I post empowering, uplifting and occasionally funny quotes by women for women; so I am tagged sometimes tagged on similar tweets posted by other women. A couple of weeks ago I was tagged on a tweet saying: “The monthly visitor, if nothing else, proves that God and Eve exist, and The Universe hates women. Yet still we rise” I was taken aback by the negative sentiment, although not rare. Plenty women choose phrases such as “having the curse” to describe their period.
I fear that our negative attitude towards menstruation poisons how we perceive womanhood. The onset of your period is the single most significant indicator of the transition from girlhood to womanhood, thus the two are incontrovertibly connected.
I heard a woman on radio promoting menstrual cups. She was punting the benefits of using these cups, made of silicone, over pads and tampons; which are (1) bad for the environment – most are non-biodegradable, (2) bad for your wallet – relative to a reusable cup which can last for up to 10 years, and (3) potentially bad for your health – remember toxic shock syndrome? She shared that her initial attraction to the product was that it gave her an opportunity to learn more about her body, by becoming more involved with her period. That is when it struck me that the entire sanitary wear industry is designed to enable us to pretend our period does not exist; the more absorbent and less detectable the product, the better. I have a mental picture of stern scientists in white lab coats fiddling with test tubes full of chemicals, intent on concocting a better formula for the thirstiest yet barely there sanitary pad.
When I engaged the author of the tweet on her attitude towards her period, she clarified that her issue is not with menstruating per se, but with all the blood and pain. Did you know that an entire menstrual period usually releases only 35 millilitres of blood? That is less than half a cup! The adverts would have you believe that its more akin to a torrent that needs to be stemmed with ever advanced pads and tampons! The language of the industry involves words such as sanitary and protection. Sanitary implies that menstruation is dirty. Protection; what are they protecting us from? Tampon is French for “plug” or “bung”, a variant from the Old French tapon meaning a “piece of cloth to plug a hole”, charming isn’t it? Tanishka, an Australian Women’s Mysteries facilitator, in her book The Inner Goddess Makeover, suggests the use of cloth pads, and returning the rich nutrients in your menstrual blood to the Earth as a way of honouring the life-giving qualities of this blood, instead of flushing them down the city sewers or sending them off to a landfill. This “unsanitary” substance you need protection from forms the basis of what sustained every single human being when they were in utero.
I wonder if the fact that we perceive our period as a pain in the neck contributes to it often being accompanied by actual physical pain. Louise L. Hay, author of Love Yourself, Heal Your Life says “The probable cause of PMS is allowing for too much confusion, giving power to outside influences and rejecting the feminine processes.” She suggests the following affirmation to change the mental process that created the issue:
“I now take charge of my mind and my life. I am a powerful and dynamic woman! Every part of my body functions perfectly. I love me.”
This is an acceptance instead of a rejection of you period, femininity, creativity, womanhood; reclamation of your power.
Before dismissing this as the deranged ranting of a feminist fanatic, take a moment to imagine how different you’d be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually if at the onset of your very first period, the significant women in your life gathered in celebration and you could sense from the elaborate ritual and their joyous expressions that womanhood was indeed blessed.
Please also read this very funny but thought provoking article: “If men could menstruate” by Gloria Steinem
I would love your thoughts on this topic.