Most of you people must be aware of a recent post about this one woman's woe when she was blocked from uploading a photo on a popular social site, which showed a blood stain on her bed sheet caused by periods. Also most are aware that the word 'periods' or 'menstrual cycle' is almost an offensive word in society though its a natural cause that occurs in all young girls and we are taught about the how and whys in school. The society almost shuns the usage of this word and it is a taboo especially if used in front of the opposite sex. We as women are made to mystify this natural phenomenal in our bodies and are made to hide our sanitary napkins, pads and tampons in black plastic bags under multiple layers of newspapers.
You see that girl mysteriously speed walking to the office bathroom holding a parcel under her coat? No, its not drugs, or a cigar or even a gun. Yep, you know it, it's a sanitary napkin.
What I've always wondered since the first time I got mine was why did I have to buy and use a sanitary pad in such secrecy? Even missile attacks wouldn't have been plotted with such secrecy which we girls are taught as children to hide from our fathers, brothers and other male counterparts scrutiny. It's not like they don't know about it. Its somehow okay to talk about it in a reproduction class in school in grade 8 but not okay to talk about or even mention the word period in front of my father or brothers at home or my friends. Schools give us the whys and hows but don't give us the consequences we need to face for starting our menstrual cycle. It's self-implied.
Dear Society, yes we girls bleed for 40 years of our life. Yes we know you're aware of this fact too. But why should I have to hide this from you? Why am I made to mystify this natural cycle every month for 4-5 days? Why can't I sleep on my bed? Why can't I go into the kitchen? Why can't I visit a temple? Why can't the elders in my house touch me?
My mother told me that in the olden days people didn't allow girls to do such activities because they felt that the girl was impure during those 4-5 days and it was best to steer clear from her as she was moody and hormonal. If I pestered more she would shoo me off because either my father was around or someone else. This is such a hushed topic that its difficult to have an open dialogue.
I've studied in an all girls school so I didn't have that many difficulties as opposed to co-ed schooled girls but I still hid my pads in a black cover and under my sweater to go to the washroom. When I entered a co-ed college I asked my classmate if she had a pad. The way she gave it to me was; with the utmost secrecy that even the Germans would have been impressed with. She took her bag and went under the table keeping me on the lookout so that no boy could even remotely see her and took out a black bag and a notebook which she nicely concealed it under and stuffed this book into my back pocket and threw her jacket over my back and quickly ushered me into the restroom. I didn't even have words for the efforts she must take at home considering she had two older brothers!
It's time to demystify this. It's getting ridiculous day by day. Young women don't even tell their own mother or family members the first time they get their period for the fear of rejection that this phenomenal is associated with, and the many restrictions regarded by the family from now on. I know girls who've gone months without informing their family, that they've got their period. Some girls have a grudge with Hinduism because they're told not to enter multiple temples or not to touch people who are going to the temple or cannot eat certain foods. I know some girls who are not allowed to go out apart from school or sometimes even not then during these days. Is this a new height or what?
In villages girls are made to sleep in a separate out house and given absolutely plain food of dal and rice during those days. They sleep on the floor and don't enter their house till it's over.
But I'm so glad that this social stigma, though slowly, is being lifted. Women are getting more liberated to have an open debate about the restrictions with their family and friends and Unions are being set up by female and male advocates. What people don't understand is that this secrecy and mystifying is causing a division among the sexes and hampering the confidence and degrading this natural cycle that happens to every female organism in this world. It's time we speak up and re-think our ideas and values about this. Let's not make the future generations suffer like this. These are liberal times to live it and its damn well about time to start talking about this too.
Here's a link to a campaign stared by Delhi University students about this topic.
Until next time readers