Period shame. Never mind how does it still exist… how did it ever become a thing? You may be reading this and thinking… well you blog about this stuff all the time so you aren’t ashamed of it but, I was.
So… for a start… what is period shame?
Period shame sounds like such a silly notion and indeed it is. Women being forced to feel shame about a natural part of their lives and yet it happens… but an even sadder fact is that most women don’t even realise that they are. They don’t even hear it when they say it…
Period shame is…
- Thinking it’s disgusting to talk about the menstrual cycle.
- Using blue liquid on sanitary product adverts???????? (As Russell Howard once said women don’t ‘leak anti-freeze’)
- Asking your friends to put on the hand drier in the toilets because you’re scared someone will hear you changing your sanitary products.
- Being to ‘awkward’ to talk about any extreme pain you’ve been feeling as it will only be dismissed as simple cramps
- Feeling ashamed of a heavy bleed or bleed through to the point that it gives us anxiety during the whole course of a period
- And so many other little things that should never happen…
Yes, the second one in particular is very common, particularly in girls of school age. And… why does it exist?
It’s simple… it’s because we reinforce it. We pass it on from generation to generation, it’s something that happens as natural as night or day but it’s not something to openly speak of.
My first experience of period shame was long before I even knew what a period was. I was about 9 years old and I had found a box of Tampax in my Mum’s bag and at that age, the first thing I was going to do was ask. That was all I did.
My mum was outside, hanging washing out to dry and I ran out, waving the box around shouting, “Maaaaaaaam, what are these?”
She looked at me with horror and became absolutely mortified. Rather than realising that this would have been the perfect opportunity to teach me about the natural functions of the female body, she simply said they were ‘ladies things.’
Then there’s the fact that boys were never taught that girls would have periods when I was at school, they were sent to an early playtime while the nurse discussed it with us. That obviously lead to all those boys who still think periods are dirty and wrong. Immaturity and ignorance at it’s finest.
So, do you know what would abolish period shame all together???