A thirteen-year-old girl comes home teary-eyed
Mom: What happened?
Girl: I stained my dress for the first time. Why didn’t you tell me about this?”
A thirteen-year-old boy in front of his father and sister
“Mom, what is period? Why can’t boys talk about it?”
Mother shocked, others embarrassed.
“How and what does he know about periods,” they wonder.
Mom: Please get me some water
Daughter: Sure but why aren’t you entering the kitchen?
Mom: I can’t
Mom *angry glare* End of Discussion
Group of boys giggling at the stain on the skirt of a girl
“It’s that time. They bleed. Yuck,” they say and giggle again.
These scenarios strike definitely strike a chord with all of us. The shock, the embarrassment, the hesitation to discuss periods, curiosity silenced by angry glares and much more, right?
All this could’ve been avoided had the children been sensitized at the right age. So, sensitization is the key! If done at the right age and in the right way then awkward situations, ignorance and perpetuation of myths and misconceptions can be done with for good.
But the start has to be right. And it begins with women. The ones who experience menstruation. The ones who actually know what it is to be on a period. The ones who can give the real picture of what their body goes through during the menstrual cycle. The ones who can talk about it openly with authority.The ones who can take away the taboo that surrounds menstruation and stop the myths from spreading.
So much knowledge and power we women wield but do we use it? No. We prefer keeping silent about this subject and suffer physically, mentally and emotionally adding to the ignorance and taboo attached to menstruation. But now enough is enough. Ladies, it’s high time we start talking about menstruation as normally as any other bodily activity is the right start because only if women talk about it openly without the hush-hush tone, that the taboo and the misconceptions surrounding menstruation will go.
Let’s do away with codes like ‘Mahine Ke Woh Din’, ‘Chums’, ‘Unwell’ ( with that typical you-know-what kind of expression) and start saying what it actually is. A period is a period. PERIOD! And trust me, it isn’t that difficult. Open up. Talk about it. Start the conversation and see the change.
Now that this part is done, the next aspect of sensitization can be touched upon. Getting the men to know all about menstruation. The funda to be used here is KISS! Keep It Simple, Sweet. If a seven-year-old year asks you about the pad he happened to see then give him a small but real answer but if a 13-year-old has questions then tell him all about it. The biological aspect, it impacts on women’s health and mood, PMS, etc.
Do this and see the difference in the way they look at you and treat you while you are menstruating. Be it your father, siblings, your husband, your boss, your colleagues or your friends, I’m sure they will be more understanding because now they know what menstruation is and what you are experiencing during that point in time.
And this is what we need, right? A bit of care and understanding while we are on our periods.
Doing this, is again, not very difficult. Yes, might be a bit awkward to start this conversation with men as years of social conditioning of keeping men out of such discussions can’t be undone easily. But there has to be a start somewhere and what better time than now!
Also, a few minutes of awkwardness in return for a changed outlook towards women and menstruation is definitely worth it! And once this conversation becomes a household norm, then the awkwardness will also cease to exist and we can all have a happy period.
And once the reality about menstruation is known then the myths and taboo won’t remain, the teasing about that bloated tummy and that pimple on your face would stop, jokes about PMS wouldn’t be made, you wouldn’t have to lie to your boss for leave because of severe cramps.
Wow! Life would be so simple with one straightforward and open conversation.
So, I would like to conclude by saying that there is a need for proactive sensitization for girls to be prepared for the bodily changes, for women to stop believing the myths around menstruation and passing them on, for boys to grow up with the right knowledge about menstruation and become men who respect women and are sensitive towards the women around them.
Sensitization is a must to stop discrimination against women for a phenomenon that is not only absolutely normal but also is a wonderful part of being a woman, to not make her feel less about herself or guilty while menstruating.
In short, sensitization is the way to go if we want society to be a place where women bleed with pride.
This article has been contributed by Shwetha Jaikrishnan, a stay at home mother and a Finalist- Haut Monde Mrs. India Worldwide, 2019