Why does everybody whisper, when talking about menstruation?

Secondary school was one hell of a lesson to me. I did not spend those three years surrounded by books, but I was definitely developing. I discovered who I am and who I want to be. I blazed the trail, got to know people, and watched how people interact. I remember when one time, while going out for a break, I returned for my bag. The teacher asked me where I was going, since I didn’t have to take my stuff for ten minutes, because I didn’t smoke and didn’t go behind the bank or the church between lessons. I was shocked, because I couldn’t say that I didn’t actually need a pack of cigarettes and a lighter, but a pack of tampons, hidden in a side pocket, next to raspberry-currant juice. But to be honest, why shouldn’t I say that?

I am a sensitive person, seriously. I’m not able to watch horror movies, drastic scenes and photos, and in high school I hated classes about medieval torture, for example. And that happened, ask no more. At such moments, I felt like fainting, just like when I saw photos from concentration camps. It is quite surprising that blood is a taboo subject only in some issues. Finding photos or videos of the execution performed by famous terrorists is no problem. We watch blood in action movies and thrillers, and we also watch pornographic movies that are both vulgar and brutal. All this, when put into pop culture trends, is no longer shocking. But slightly stained panties, or tampons and pads continue to shock our society. Because pornography and murder are considered quite normal. However, menstruation is not.

Rupi Kaur, the author of my beloved, because extremely necessary and groundbreaking, volume of poetry entitled Milk and Honey, once posted a very expressive photo on Instagram. Rupi lay on the couch, her back to the lens. She was in gray sweatpants, on which we could see a small, burgundy spot. Rupi had a leakage.

The scandal broke out when Instagram removed the photo, explaining its supposed non-compliance with community guidelines. Rupi posted it again, the picture stayed this time, but the problem didn’t disappear. I know that many people are wondering why such content was publicized in the first place, because “there is nothing to brag about”. It is “unattractive” and it maybe no one should mention it at all. But many others gave period solid support. The photo wasn’t drastic, no nudity and nothing disgusting. Well, can something as natural as occurrence of menstruation be disgusting? Kaur writes in her book:

apparently it is ungraceful of me to mention my period in public cause the actual biology of my body is too real it is okay to sell what’s between a woman’s legs more than it is okay to mention its inner workings the recreational use of this body is seen as beautiful while its nature is seen as ugly”

I remember when I had a really hard Monday at high school. You know how it is – Mondays aren’t usually among favourite days of the week. Personally, I think it‘s not Monday that is to blame, just Your life if you have such an attitude, but that one, very Monday was evil in itself. I swear. I used to start classes at 7 a.m. I got up at 5:48, half asleep, as you can guess, yet I bravely marched on to get thirty minutes of maths. I had a two-hour window, then two scheduled math classes, got my mock exam back, which I passed as the only one in my group. Nothing seemed to be going wrong. But then it turned out that I was waiting for three Matura exams that Monday. Panting heavily, begging the Lord for salvation, I was crushed by another question about Hasdrubal, the former senate marshals, about what it meant to follow the principle of the presumption of innocence and the causes of Galician rebellion. And I was furious, because the only thing I wanted was to cry in pain and go home, and I couldn’t do it. Because “it’s ok not to feel well during the final high school exam”. I can see now how prophetic it was, but then it was a bit inhumane and cruel, in my opinion.

I don’t want to demonize anything nor do I want to present us, women as victims. This is not the point to receive compassion, but to be understood and to experience empathy. After all, it is obvious that teacher wants me to prepare for the fact that the circumstances of writing an exam may vary and he’s not to blame for it. Although I wasn’t given any time to get painkillers or other anaesthetics. It’s not about special treatment due to the fact that I’m a woman who experiences period. It is about reaching out to someone who feels hopeless. And suffers. Seriously.

It seems to me that the period is as much a taboo as masturbation. Supposedly, everyone knows what is going on, but we won’t talk about it, because it’s more comfortable and more convenient that way. Something as natural as menstruation was pushed into a drawer, and there’s no key whatsoever. And everyone should tone down to a whisper when they talk about m e n s t r u a t i o n.  And of course, it will be better and safer when we change the term to “period” or “indisposition.”

Recently, I’ve come across an article on some website which points out things that men shouldn’t hear. In this bunch of pieces of advice on life, one, probably the most important and totally new to me struck me the most. I read that in order for a man to treat a woman seriously, under no circumstances should she mention period. Just no. The same goes for pads, tampons, pms, abdominal pain, headache or backache. Because to be a sexy lover, every woman must be a titan of life. Always positive, always in high-heels, pencil skirt, with high neckline and perfect makeup. And most importantly, without blood on underwear or tampons, which a guy could accidentally spot somewhere.

All I have to say regarding this issue is: screw this!. Yes, I do bleed. Every month, if everything’s well, I menstruate because I’m a woman. I don’t feel well, I’m obsessed with taking showers and replacing personal hygiene products as often as possible. Sometimes I leak and stain the sheets. Perhaps this removes me from the list of desirable and sexy women, because it is not very attractive. On the other hand, it’s natural and real and let’s not pretend it’s not or that the issue doesn’t exist at all. Because it’s not just a lie, but I have repeatedly stated that the conspiracy of silence can be harmful. I’m not going to describe situations in which little girls are surprised to see blood on underwear, because no one told them before. There’s no need for radical examples. The subject of menstruation should also be present in both partnership and relationship, because, let’s not pretend, the period, or its absence is an issue significant for both of the partners.

I wait for a day when women stop following what they should be and what they shouldn’t say. When they will be honest, first of all with themselves. And I want us all to stop being silent or talk in whisper, and began to speak and talk. Loudly.

ILLUSTRATIONS: Layla Ehsan via Buzzfeed
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